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Rep. Amber Baker discusses legislative session during Rowan Democrats breakfast meeting

Rowan County Democrats this weekend heard from Rep. Amber Baker, a Democrat from Forsyth County, about a slew of bills and discussions moving through the General Assembly.

Baker is an educator with more than 20 years of experience, and a freshman legislator representing District 72. She served as principal of Kimberley Park Elementary School in Winston-Salem from 2008 to 2019.

She spoke to Rowan County Democrats during their May virtual meeting. County chairman Geoffrey Hoy credited Baker with her history of incorporating better methods of culturally relevant information in schools.

Baker told attendees that “the honeymoon phase” in Raleigh is over because lawmakers are rushing to get their bills over to the other chamber before the crossover deadline of May 13. The change in atmosphere has been evident in floor debates, she said, recalling that debate had been suspended for her for two different bills that sponsors didn’t seem to know enough about.

“We may not be in the majority, but we still fight,” Baker said.

Much of Baker’s focus during the discussion was her experience in education and the need for an overhaul in the public education system, especially since COVID-19 has shown the nation a new way to think about school. Baker said schools considering a shift to longer days or year-round school require creative ways of conducting the day because traditional methods are no longer always beneficial.

She cited her experience as a principal at Kimberley Park Elementary, a public charter school that consistently scores low but is aimed at helping at-risk children.

She expressed disgust at the House for passing H.B. 453, which prevents abortion in the event the child will have Down syndrome after its birth. The bill also would prevent abortions based on the child’s race or sex. Baker said the bill is aimed at taking away rights from Black women, specifically, and does nothing to address the issue of high infant mortality rights among Black women.

Baker is also leading legislation that would automatically expunge evictions from one’s record after five years because evictions are expected to spike after the end of a current moratorium. She is advocating for the state to consider dipping into its savings to help North Carolinians.

“If this doesn’t constitute a rainy day in our (state), then I don’t know what does,” Baker said. She suggests that even $1 billion can do a lot for small businesses, housing relief and municipal funding. “It doesn’t have a good look to brag about how much money we have in our reserves when so many people across our state are hurting.”

Hoy told attendees about 16 Rowan County precincts had now been organized and reminded them that campaigns are yearlong events that require work now. Baker said many races in the 2020 election were lost due to the party’s issues with messaging. She said Republicans often build their messages on “lies, half-truths and mistruth,” but they are still consistent. She said Democrats must work to mobilize the independent and small subset of Republicans who elected Democrats in 2020.

“We know the quality of life gets better for everyone when the Democrats are in office,” Baker said.

NC Congressman Dan Bishop endorses Budd for Senate

Rep. Dan Bishop, a North Carolina Republican representing the 9th Congressional District, has endorsed Rep. Ted Budd for the U.S. Senate.

Bishop, of Charlotte, previously served as a Mecklenburg County commissioner and state senator. Bishop’s endorsement of Budd is due to him being “a true conservative” compared to other Republican candidates at this time, including former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker.

Budd began his campaign by aligning himself with former President Donald Trump and talking about crushing “the liberal agenda.”

“There is no room for error in 2022,” Bishop said in a statement. “North Carolina’s next U.S. Senator must be a fighter for ordinary people and the values the left is systematically destroying in Washington. I have gotten to know Ted Budd well. There’s nothing slick or artificial about him — Ted Budd is a true conservative and solid as a rock. He’s humble, principled, loyal and unafraid to stand up for working families. North Carolinians can rely on Ted Budd.”

Federal program allows NC households to receive financial help with monthly internet bills 

Beginning May 12, North Carolina families can receive financial help toward their monthly internet bills as part of a $3.2 billion federal program.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides families with a discount up to $50 per month toward their internet bill, and $75 for those living on tribal lands. Eligible households can also get a one-time discount of $100 toward the purchase of a laptop, tablet or desktop computer through participating providers.

“Many North Carolina families struggle to afford high-speed internet,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will help bridge the digital divide so that people in need can get online to talk with their doctors, learn remotely, find or do work, and connect with friends and family.”

Households with an income at or less than 135% of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for the program, as well as those with at least one member receiving federal benefits such as Medicaid, SNAP or Lifeline. Additionally, families and individuals participating in the free and reduced-price school lunch program, lost a job or significant income because of the pandemic or received a federal Pell Grant are also eligible.

More information can be found by visiting www.getemergencybroadband.org/. 

The program will end six months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares the pandemic is over or when the program uses all its $3.2 billion funding, whichever happens first.



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