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Political notebook: Heggins calls on U.S. Senate to pass ‘HEROES’ Act

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins, who is running for a seat in the state legislature, on Thursday called on the U.S. Senate to pass the “HEROES Act,” a House-backed coronavirus relief package.

Heggins also said she supports Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision to keep North Carolina in phase 2 of the “Safer at Home” order for five more weeks, but she recognizes it will further continue the hardships for businesses unable to open at this time, as well as local residents whose livelihoods have been impacted by the pandemic.

“We are fortunate to be a southern state led by a governor who is making decisions based on science and data,” she said.

The $3 trillion package, called “Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions” Act, or the HEROES Act, includes $1 trillion for state and local governments, another round of direct payments to individuals and help for the unemployed, renters and homeowners, college debt holders and the U.S. Postal Service.

The act passed the Democratic-led U.S. House on May 15.

Heggins specifically calls on U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr — both Republicans — to pass the act. Both of Rowan County’s U.S. House representatives — Rep. Ted Budd, R-13, and Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8 — voted against the HEROES Act.

The latest action on the bill includes hearings on July 23 in the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

The act, if passed as written at this time, would include:

  • An additional direct payment of up to $1,200 to individuals
  • Financial assistance to state, local, tribal and territorial governments
  • Emergency supplemental appropriations to federal agencies
  • An expansion of sick days, family and medical leave, unemployment compensation, nutrition and food assistance programs, housing assistance and payments to farmers
  • Modification and expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program
  • Establishment of a fund to award grants for employers to provide pandemic premium pay for essential workers
  • Expansion of several tax credits and deductions
  • Funding and requirements for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing
  • Extension and expansion on the moratorium of certain evictions and foreclosures
  • A requirement for employers to develop and implement infectious disease exposure control plans.

The bill also modifies or expands a wide range of other programs and policies, including Medicare and Medicaid, broadband service, medical product supplies, immigration, student loans and financial aid, the federal workforce, prisons, veterans benefits, consumer protection requirements, the U.S. Postal Service, federal elections, aviation and railroad workers, and pension and retirement plans.

“I request that they consider the welfare of residents in the 76th (District) and across North Carolina and work immediately to pass relief for people who are facing evictions, small business closures and missed paychecks,” she said.

Heggins, a Democrat, is challenging Republican incumbent Rep. Harry Warren for the 76th district House seat in the North Carolina General Assembly.

An agreement regarding another COVID-19 relief package remains stalled in U.S. House and Senate. President Donald Trump on Saturday moved to bypass lawmakers, issuing his own executive order that includes deferral of payroll taxes, $400 in unemployment benefits and an extension on evictions moratorium, according to an Associated Press report.


Atrium Health, Novant Health to provide on-site care at Republican National Convention

CHARLOTTE — In a joint statement on Monday, Atrium Health and Novant Health announced they would provide on-site medical care and test everyone involved with the Republican National Convention scheduled for later this month.

The convention is scheduled for Aug. 24-27. The Associated Press has reported that the RNC has estimated no more than 500 delegates per day will be hosted at the Charlotte Convention Center. President Donald Trump has said he will speak at the convention, though it’s unclear if it’ll be in-person or remotely. Though the state remains in Phase 2 of the “Safer at Home” order, which prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, the Associated Press reported the state has agreed to ease its gathering restrictions for the RNC after a request from the party to be more accommodating.

Atrium Health and Novant Health both said they would test and screen convention delegates and supporting staff and essential workers who will interact with them in addition to providing medical care on-site.

“Charlotte is proud to have a prominent role in our nation’s selection of its presidential candidates,” the companies said. “Despite having the inherent risk of having large gatherings during the pandemic, nominating conventions are an integral part of our democracy. As the leading health providers in the area, we at Atrium Health and Novant Health are dedicated to lending our expertise to help minimize the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 for our visitors and for the people who call Charlotte home.”

Though restrictions were eased for the RNC events, “it was adamant that mask-wearing and 6 feet of physical distancing must remain enforced,” according to the AP report.

“Good health practices are not political,” both health systems said in the statement. “They’re based on the science of medicine. Our collective guidance to the event organizers and everyone coming is to wear a mask, always and properly; maintain appropriate social distancing at all times, and be diligent about washing your hands frequently.”


Former President Barack Obama endorses 10 North Carolina statewide candidates

RALEIGHFormer President Barack Obama endorsed 10 candidates vying for the N.C. House, governorship and U.S. Senate.

Obama’s wave of endorsements included support for incumbent Gov. Roy Cooper, Lt. Gov. candidate Yvonne Lewis Holley, state treasurer candidate Ronnie Chatterji, state Commissioner of Labor candidate Jessica Holmes and Democrat Cal Cunningham, who is challenging Republican incumbent Thom Tillis in the U.S. Senate.

Additionally, Obama endorsed Pat Timmons-Goodson, who is running to unseat U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8. Hudson currently serves as a representative for Rowan County, but will be redistricted out following the completion of the 2020 U.S. Census.

There are 117 Democrats running for the N.C. House this election cycle. Democrats would need to flip six seats in the House to take the chamber.

“The nation is watching North Carolina as we prepare to flip the House this November,” said Dana Walton, the N.C. House Democratic Caucus executive director. “It is time to end the decade of harmful Republican leadership that has hurt N.C. families and put the state on the wrong path. We are so grateful President Obama has joined us in our fight to restore leadership in Raleigh that is going to prioritize healthcare, education and an economy that works for everyone.”


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