Leader Blue outlines possible GOP agenda

Leader Blue outlines possible GOP agenda
April 19
19:06 2018

When the short session of the N.C. Legislature begins on Wednesday, May 16, it is still not clear exactly what agenda the Republican-led body will adopt.

But at a recent town hall meeting in his Raleigh district, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue outlined some of the issues that may come up, even though the short session traditionally is supposed to solely focus on budgetary items, or correcting bills that were passed during the Long Session the year before.

And many of those issues impact the African-American community.

One pressing issue that Sen. Blue felt Democrats should push hard for is new gun legislation that restricts exactly who can legally get a firearm in this state. Blue said there’s no reason for an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, like the kind recently used in mass shootings across the country, to be available to the public.

“[Senate Democrats] think there needs to be common sense legislation relating to guns, and especially these assault, military killing machines,” Blue said. “There is no justification for an 18-year-old to have a weapon of war.”

Blue noted that he does expect Republicans to move forward with their plans for judicial redistricting in order to gain control of the state’s court system by changing the voting lines in order to elect more Republican judges. Given the plans he sees thus far, Blue blasted the GOP for crafting it in a way that eliminated many black Democratic district court judges.

More has to be done to create jobs, improve the environment, and strengthen education across the state, Sen. Blue opined. He added that better access to affordable health care was still a major concern for he and his fellow Senate Democrats.

Blue also indicated that the movement to break large school districts in the state up into closer districts is probably dead, because researchers can’t agree which is ultimately better for students.

Many of the citizens who attended the town hall had their own areas of concern that they expressed interest in having the legislation address during the short session.

One major concern, which is affecting older predominately-black communities across the state, is gentrification.

Gentrification is the process by which cities replace older housing and structures in mostly poor areas of color, with new residential and commercial development aimed at attracting high-income, and predominantly white populations.

One of the key concerns for many black communities is that past promises of affordable housing are now not being fulfilled, meaning that while old housing is being torn down, the structures that replace them are then overpriced, forcing residents to search for affordable housing beyond where they traditionally reside.

Blue noted that while gentrification is a concern, it is also a local responsibility that citizens should lobby their local city councils about.

There were also concerns about the bail bond system, and how seemingly unregulated, and ultimately unfair to poor people it is. Blue said he doubts the issue will come up during the Short Session, but something could happen in the next long session in 2019.

Several educators present urged Sen. Blue to push for more education funding to relieve growing class sizes. Teachers complained that they are not able to give each student in a class of 30 or more, the kind of attention that they need in order to assure a “sound, basic “ education, as required by North Carolina’s Constitution.

Sen. Blue replied that while he agreed that class-sized should be lowered, he didn’t think the Republican majority was interested in the issue.

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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