$200M disaster relief package passes N.C. House, moves on to Senate

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — During a special session held by state lawmakers on Tuesday, the House passed a $200 million relief package for Hurricane Matthew and wildfire victims.

The bill now will move on to the state Senate and could be passed as early as Wednesday.

Gov. Pat McCrory called the special session last week, and he said the disaster relief plan is for people who can’t help themselves.

“There are human stories behind every one of those floods,” said McCrory. “Thousands of human stories behind every one of those floods. And sadly the people impacted by this flood were typically the poorest of the poor or the people who could least afford it.”

As the current bill reads, $20 million would go to the Golden Leaf Foundation to build infrastructures outside the 100-year flood plain and repair or replace damaged infrastructures, $20 million would go to the housing trust fund to help families displaced and $5 million would be allotted for loans to small businesses who saw damage.

These are just some of the key allocations listed in the bill.

All the help would come during the holidays.

“There are residents right now who are still trying to figure out how to put the pieces back together and their lives,” said state Sen. Don Davis, D-District 5. “They’ve reached out to the insurance company if they had insurance. They’ve reached out to FEMA, and they still have needs.”

This bill also includes a clause stating the 2017-2018 budget must transfer the amount of money in the relief bill back to the states saving reserve account

The bill could still be changed before it is finalized.

 

During the session, lawmakers faced protesters and the NAACP who urged them to keep the session about Hurricane Matthew and wildfire relief.

Some Democratic leaders are concerned because of specific wording about the special session that allows any topic to be fair game.

In response, NAACP held a silent protest at the special session due to concerns the General Assembly would add two additional judges to the North Carolina Supreme Court because of redistricting that has to take place.

“Now knowing they have to redraw lines in 2017 and that whatever maps they redraw may have to come before the Supreme Court, (they may) want to now in advance of that stack the court,” said Rev. William Barber, NC NAACP.

Those who attended held signs reading “Say no to power grabs” and “Don’t pack the court.”

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In a news release, the NAACP accused the General Assembly of previously using important issues to sneak through “unconstitutional and discriminatory laws.”

Republican Rep. Greg Murphy said there are no plans to pack the court.

The Governor’s Hurricane Matthew Recovery Committee visited many hard-hit communities over the past couple months, asking for feedback from those impacted the most. Committee members then made recommendations to the governor, which the General Assembly will see Tuesday.

Sidney Locks served on the committee.

“As we listened to people in all of the areas that we went to receive information, some of the most striking things was people who were so devastated because they were so unaware of how to respond,” Locks said.

Governor McCrory hopes to secure nearly $200 million for hurricane and wildfire relief.

Locks hopes the committee’s recommendations will be taken seriously.

“Sometimes politics is slow as almost Jesus coming back but I’m hoping it will not be delayed and that the governor will also reach out even more although that has been done, although even more towards local officials and people in the communities to help them to pull it off the way it needs to be done,” Locks said.

 

 

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