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Political notebook: Democrats oppose council’s proposed public comment changes

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

The Salisbury City Council raised the ire of local Democrats when it began considering changes to its public comment period.

In a Feb. 22 meeting, the council started weighing changes that included a time limit of one hour for comment; moving the comment period to the end of meetings instead of at 6 p.m.; requiring people to sign up before the meeting; and a hard limit on people who yield three minutes to other speakers. The council chose to delay consideration of changes and will discuss them again when it meets on Tuesday.

In advance of the meeting, the Rowan County Democratic Party’s Executive Committee issued a statement saying the changes would be “a constraint on the freedom of speech.”

“We believe that representative government works best when citizens are encouraged to participate in discussions on issues of concern in a public forum,” the statement said. “Limiting the time in which they are allowed to do so is, by definition, a constraint on the freedom of speech.”

Democrats said the council should “let the people speak” and listen to what local residents have to say.

“At a time in our country when many elected federal and state legislators refuse to meet publicly with their own constituents and the freedom of speech is under constant attack from those seeking to drown out the concerns of the average citizen, we urge the City Council of Salisbury to be an exemplar of the democratic principles that made this country great,” Democrats said. 

The next City Council meeting is at 5 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, 217 S. Main St. Discussion about changing public comment rules is on the agenda.

Report provides statistics about effects of Obamacare repeal

A report by Democratic staff members in the U.S. House that is being publicized by the N.C. Democratic Party provides insight into how repealing Obamacare might affect local congressional districts.

The report analyzes health care in all 435 congressional districts and provides statistics about how many people could lose coverage. The state Democratic Party said the report is an example of the “very real harm that a reckless and ill-conceived repeal of the Affordable Care Act will cause.”

Reports on individual congressional districts use a template and plug in statistics.

In the 8th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Richard Hudson, the uninsured rate has dropped from 18.4 percent to 11.8 percent since the ACA was implemented.

In the 13th District, represented by Rep. Ted Budd, the uninsured rated has dropped from 19 percent to 13.2 percent.

The largest drop in the number of uninsured people in the state was in the 2nd Congressional District — 8.8 percent, according to the report.

North Carolinians feel similar about Trump

A High Point University poll released this week found that North Carolina residents feel almost the same about President Donald Trump as they did in early February.

The poll found that 36 percent of North Carolina residents approve of the job Trump is doing as president and 55 percent disapprove. The approval number is the same as in February, but the disapproval number is slightly better.

For the poll, High Point University surveyed 451 adults. A plurality of those polled self-identified as politically moderate.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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