Category Archives: state budget issues

Jones: Make Rape Kit Testing a Priority

About 30 years ago, my sweet, elderly aunt for whom I was named was brutally beaten and raped in the country church where I was baptized and where five generations of my ancestors are buried. She had gone there on a Saturday morning to practice the organ selections for the next day. A neighboring farmer and family friend found her naked and barely alive on the church steps. She survived to bear witness in a courtroom where they acquitted her rapist. No DNA evidence was supplied. The following week, all of the witnesses that provided an alibi for her rapist received new cars from the car dealership belonging to the rapist’s father. Rape is usually a serial offense. Eventually, he was convicted after raping a young woman after her car broke down, stranding her on the highway. DNA evidence from a rape kit finally nailed him and thankfully, he is now in prison.

The young man who date-raped my little sister when she was in high school is still out there. A rape kit might have convicted him. We know that one in four rape kits results in conviction, a reason that former Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Tim McGinty, calls rape kits “the best bargain in the history of law enforcement.”

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NC NOW Legislative Update, 11 Jun 18

It’s been another crazy week in the NCGA.  Here are some highlights (lowlights) from the North_Carolina_NOW_Legislative_Update_#4_Short_Session, 10_June_2018.

BUDGET
As expected, Governor Cooper vetoed the budget, citing inadequate funding for education and teacher pay raises, implementing unnecessary tax cuts, and the deplorable process used to pass the budget. See “Cooper vetoes budget bill — here’s why,” NC Policy Watch, 6/6/18. The Senate has voted to override the Governor’s veto and the House has voted once to override with a final vote scheduled for 06/12/2018.

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NC NOW Legislative Update, 4 Jun 18

NC NOW Legislative Update #3 of the Short Session, 4 Jun 18 talks about the budget as the most controversial in modern history—not for what it contains, but for the process it went through. The process was explained in detail in NC NOW’s Legislative Update #2 for the Short Session, 28 May 18. This week, people learned more about some inappropriate recipients of taxpayer money, and some of the things the budget did and did not do. 

“The budget did not expand Medicaid coverage or provide adequate funding for education, including supplies and teacher salaries. No money was allocated to begin testing and tracking the backlog of untested rape kits, even though Attorney General Josh Stein requested $2,000,000 for this purpose.”

Actual rape kits used in NC. Displayed at the NC NOW State Conference in Oct 2017. We heard the story of how Fayetteville made the rape kit inventory happen! Photo Credit: Catherine Evangelista

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Pro-choice Signature Ad Packets Delivered on 6/4/18

NC NOW members delivered the pro-choice signature ad packets to all of our representatives in the NC House and NC Senate on Monday, 6/4/18. The packets included a copy of the pro-choice signature ad that we ran in Indy Week in January (as we do every year), and a letter from NC NOW. 

NC NOW Members Deliver Pro-Choice Signature Ad Packets on Jun 4, 2018. Photo Credit: Gailya Paliga

This year the letter was somewhat focused on the terrible budget process which blocked input from all Democratic lawmakers and maybe some Republican ones as well. The letter also talked about inappropriate uses of taxpayer money in the budget. See the letter below.

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$1.55 Million in Taxpayer Money Going to CPCs in NC Budget

Information and Actions to take!

The NCGA is giving taxpayer money away to Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC). They gave $1.3 million away in the 2017 budget, and have increased the amount in the 2018 budget. The money is going to 3 CPC umbrella organizations! These clinics are not health clinics, and they are often tied up in religion. Actions to take are at the end.

The 2017 NC state budget gave away $1.3 million to a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) parent organization, Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, an anti-abortion group that operates 8 clinics in North Carolina. The NC legislature gave away this money with no strings attached and no milestones or controls on services provided. The legislative majority had planned to give $1.3 million away to CPCs two years in a row.

Destigmatize Abortion, NoGagRule Rally on 4/10/18 Photo Credit: Karen Ziegler

In 2018, the Republicans who wrote the state budget behind closed doors raised that amount –  they are now giving away $1.55 million, and they’ve made some changes to the taxpayer money recipients. This money isn’t going to health care for low income women, it isn’t expanding Medicaid to help low income women and men. Taxpayer money is being delivered to three CPC parent organizations, as follows.

  • $1 million to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship (same one that benefited last budget)
  • $300,000 to “The Human Coalition” which describes itself explicitly as opposing the “abortion industry.”
  • $250,000 is going to a third anti-abortion pregnancy clinic, Mountain Area Pregnancy Services in Asheville.

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You Can’t Believe this Terrible NC State Budget

Even just the titles of the listed articles give you an idea how terrible this state budget is. This is the state budget for which the NCGA leadership subverted the process so there can be no amendments or discussion on it. NC NOW Vice President of Legislation Robin Davis described how this was done and why  in the NC NOW Legislative Update for the Short Session #2. When she wrote it, most people, including Democratic lawmakers, had not even seen the budget yet! Now more people have seen it and many are angry and upset! These articles explain a few of the major issues being discovered in this budget that was written behind closed doors, and delve in if you dare!

There have been some amazingly scathing articles on the legislative leadership (Senator Phil Berger & Rep. Tim Moore) circumventing the normal budget process. Berger and Moore and their buddies are shutting out the voices of citizens and other lawmakers. Here are 2 of my favorites.

Rally on “Real Money For Fake Women’s Clinics”. Photo Credit: Michael Eisenberg

Cut from the NC budget: Democracy,” News and Observer, 5/26/18, at http://www.newsobserver.com/article211879774.html.

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NC NOW Legislative Update, 28 May 18

First and foremost, the NCGA Short Session budget machinations.  “The Republican leadership has devised a plan to pass their budget bill without going through the normal appropriations process and blocking any amendments. ” And some response to this underhanded and hypocritical move, including an action you can take.

See more at North_Carolina_NOW_Legislative_Update_Short_Session_2.28_May_2018

“I am 28 years old and my mom is still buying my school supplies!” On orange sign.

Rape Kit Inventory Initiated in Fayetteville, NOW Helped

Many North Carolinians learned that there are 15,160 untested ‘sexual assault evidence collection kits’ (SAECK) left in North Carolina on February 28, 2018. These kits, also known as ‘rape kits’ were inventoried as part of the 2017 state budget, thanks to a bill that was spearheaded by the executive director of a Rape Crisis center in Cumberland County, Deanna Gerdes. Prior to the inventory, no one knew how many untested ‘sexual assault evidence collection kits’ there were across NC. Gerdes worked with Lt. John Somerindyke, Fayetteville Police Department’s Special Victims Unit commander, who discovered the problem in the first place and leads a unit to solve these crimes.  Other key supporters were bill sponsor state Rep. Billy Richardson, D-Cumberland; Roberta Waddle, a long time officer of Fayetteville NOW and NC NOW; and Gerdes’ daughter, Kathryn. Attorney General Josh Stein announced the count on 2/28/18, and has great recommendations going forward what to do. NC is finally making progress on untested rape kits, thanks these heroes in Fayetteville.

Deanna Gerdes at Podium, SBA Celebration with Fayetteville NOW. Photo Credit: Gailya Paliga

Gerdes and Somerindyke have talked about their journeys to getting this bill written and passed at a few events with NC NOW and the Fayetteville NOW chapters in the past 6 months. On Feb 22, 2018, the Fayetteville chapter of the National Organization for Women held their 18th annual Susan B. Anthony (SBA) Birthday Celebration, where they honored Gerdes and Somerindyke for their work on the passage of this bill. Some of their journey is captured in “Fighting for statewide sexual assault survivor justice: Gerdes and Somerindyke honored at Fayetteville NOW event,” which was the cover story in the 2/6/18 issues of Up and Coming Weekly, a community paper in Fayetteville. Gerdes and Somerindyke also did a workshop at NC NOW’s state conference last October on grassroots work to pass the auditing of the Sexual Assault kits. More about their workshop and the conference at “Mobilizing Women NOW – Totally Worth It! Summary.”

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Women’s Rally On Raleigh 2018 is ON!

Plan to join us at Raleigh’s women’s march anniversary event in 2018. A group of individuals and organizers are planning a women’s rally on Raleigh, with the theme of “Women Leading The Resistance!” on January 20, 2018.

women rally 2018

Date: Saturday, January 20, 2018
Time: 9am to 1pm
       Gather: 9:00 am
       Resistance music: 9:00am-10:00am
       Speakers begin: 10:00am
       Event ends: 1:00pm
Place: Halifax Mall, in Raleigh
Location: Green space next to the Legislative Office Building at 300 N Salisbury St (Where most of the Moral Monday rallies are held.)
For more information, go to https://womensmarchonraleigh.org/.
See some of the speakers at https://womensmarchonraleigh.org/rally-program/.

Our rally is timed as the one year anniversary of our giant march and rally in Raleigh and with the hundreds or thousands of other marches across the United States and around the world on January 21, 2017. Organizer Yevonne Brannon documented 13 marches in North Carolina alone! We will rally in solidarity with other women’s events that day, including those in Winston Salem, in Chicago, and in New York. 

Read more about our 2017 Women’s March On Raleigh at Women’s March On Raleigh was Huge! 1/21/17 and in earlier posts, at Women’s March on Raleigh: Women Mobilizing NC (12/25/16) and at Women’s March on Raleigh 2017 – Spread The Word! (1/1/17) and at Women’s March On Raleigh 2017 Press Release (1/11/17).

These are two of my favorite pictures from the Women’s March on Raleigh in 2017. The first shows some of my co-organizers leading the march.

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Mobilizing Women NOW – Totally Worth It! Summary.

This year’s NC NOW conference in Fayetteville occurred at a time when women’s rights and reproductive choices are under greater attack than they have been in decades. As we all attempt to adapt to an administration that has been hijacked by special interests including climate deniers, the evangelical extremists and forces hostile to women, the theme of Mobilizing Women NOW could not be more important.

Attendees got to choose what interested them the most. Some workshops focused on dangers – like threats to reproductive rights  and a hostage budget that hurts women. Other workshops ways to fight back – lawsuits against gerrymandering, planning programs that pop, and working with other organizations and legislators to pass commonsense legislation. All of our workshops were on topics of current interest and presented by people who were well prepared. See the agenda, keynote and speaker biographies, workshop summaries and more at 2017 NC NOW Conference Program – Updated.

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