Newsletter from the office of Representative Mary Belk.
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Tuesday, March 5th was ERA Day at the NC General Assembly.


At the very first Town Hall I hosted as a new legislator in 2017, I met a gentleman named Rhandu Williams, who works with a local umbrella community group called the Council of Elders. He told me about the expunction clinics his group has sponsored in partnership with District Attorney Merriweather, and the positive effects they have had on the lives of the people they help.  

When a person commits a crime and is convicted, there is a reasonable expectation that they should ‘pay a price’ for breaking the law, but criminal records exist long after that price has been paid. They make it more difficult, or in some cases, impossible to secure employment, housing, and even some government safety net services. Expunctions are available to people who have paid their debt to society in full and have not committed additional offenses for 8 or 10 years, depending on the crime. 

After rare bipartisan agreement at the federal level led to the “First Step Act,” legislators in North Carolina are starting to realize that people are less likely to break the law when they have legitimate opportunities to build a productive life.

A new bill (H121) is moving through the House that shows real promise to reform our system of granting expungements (clearing) of criminal records. Originally, the bill was designed to make expungements immediately available to juveniles who are convicted of adult crimes before the new ‘Raise the Age’ legislation goes into effect (after December 2019, NC will no longer automatically try 16 and 17 year olds in adult court).

After some impressive amendment work in committee by my colleague and friend Rep. Marcia Morey, HB 121 now also includes a section that would automatically expunge arrest records that do not lead to a conviction, as well as ‘not guilty’ judgments. Right now, you still need to file court papers (meaning ‘hire a lawyer’ for most people) to get these types of records cleared. 

I would like to reform our system so it doesn’t require wealth and power to navigate. It’s also about wanting people to have the option to make the right choice without being prejudged by long past actions. Any way you look at it, we need to use this moment of agreement to push forward with criminal justice reforms that aim for rehabilitation, not just punishment.
Nursing instructors from UNC Penbroke advocated for the SAVE Act during Nurses Day at the Legislature on April 3rd.


As of right now, most UNC system student IDs will not be eligible for use as Voter ID when the law goes into effect for the 2020 election cycle. The State Board of Elections has rejected requests by 12 of the 17 UNC campuses, including UNC-C, UNC-CH, and NC State to accept student and employee IDs at the polls. As you might imagine, I am deeply disappointed but not terribly surprised that this law is being used to limit access to the polls for citizens who have a constitutional right to vote in the place where they attend school.  

Last year, North Carolina voters approved a voter photo ID amendment without knowing how legislators would fill in the details. Republican legislators pushed through their bill (S824) which included a series of stringent and confusing requirements that a college or community college must meet in order for students at their schools to use their IDs to vote. Now we know these requirements are being used to limit students’ access to the polls.

Even as these disturbing decisions emerge, we still don’t know a lot of the details about how counties are expected to implement the voter ID requirements. That’s why legislators approved SB 214 to delay the implementation of photo ID until the 2020 elections. Democrats attempted unsuccessfully to amend SB 214 to move back the deadline that has prevented so many college and community college IDs from being used in the 2020 elections, but we could not get Republicans to agree.

I continue to believe that our elections will better reflect the will of the people if more of the people are able to participate. I’m a proud co-sponsor of Let NC Vote Act (H589), which would provide for automatic voter registration, use technology to keep our voter rolls up to date, fix the UNC IDs issue, and restore a number of pro-participation reforms. 

The truth is that when politicians limit access to the ballot box, they are limiting their accountability to voters. I believe more accountability in Raleigh would do us good right now.
Local Mecklenburg volunteers from ActionNC were in town with Robert Dawkins to push for Medicaid Expansion in 2019.


An ICE detainer is a written request that local law enforcement detain an individual for an additional 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) after his or her release date. It is not a warrant and is not typically authorized by a judge.

Current federal and state law allow a sheriff discretion in misdemeanor cases whether to honor an ICE detainer. This allows the sheriff to use his or her local knowledge and experience to make the best decision on a case-by-case basis.

This week the NC House passed HB 370 which takes a one-size-fits-all approach.  HB 370 is opposed by the NC Sheriffs Association, the NC Crime Victim Assistance Network, and civil rights organizations.  I voted No, but the bill passed.

I voted No because HB 370 turns a small interaction with law enforcement, like reporting a domestic assault, into a high stakes situation that could lead to deportation, loss of child custody, or employment for people in the immigrant community. We need to trust our local sheriff to do his or her job to make our community safe without having their hands tied by state and federal government.

Unfortunately, bills like HB 370 seek to divide communities and break down trust in law enforcement.  It also distracts us from issues that matter most to people’s daily lives like Medicaid expansion, our public schools, and promoting policies that create jobs and bigger paychecks.
Representatives from programs supported by the Mecklenburg Arts & Science Council highlighted the educational opportunities arts funding provides.


Last week the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) ordered Duke Energy Progress to excavate all remaining coal ash sites in North Carolina. The sites impacted are in Cleveland County, Gaston County, Catawba County, Stokes County, and two in Person County. Two plants (Marshall & Allen) are on the Catawba River, which supplies drinking water to Mecklenburg County. The order comes after rigorous scientific review and listening sessions in impacted communities.

DEQ determined excavation of all six sites is the only closure option that will protect public health. The coal ash must be disposed of in a lined landfill.

By August 1, 2019, Duke Energy is required to submit final closure plans. Duke Energy will have the opportunity to propose beneficiation options (such as recycling) as well as full excavation in their plans.

For the full DEQ analysis and orders to excavate issued today, as well as the comments made earlier this year on Duke Energy’s proposed closure options and related documents, please visit
My friend, Rep. Becky Carney, was looking hale and hearty on the 10th anniversary of her experience with sudden cardiac death.  


Governor Cooper's proposed 2019-2020 budget was filed last week, kicking off the formal beginning of ‘budget season’ here in Raleigh. It is a complex task that involves input from all corners of state government. Thankfully, the Office of State Budget Management has a website that outlines the process and provides access to the same information received by legislators. 

Budget 101 Page - How does it happen?
OpenBudget Project - Where did the money go?
Governor Cooper’s 2019-20 Budget - How would the Governor write a budget?


Domestic Violence Hotline: If you or someone you know is trapped in a domestic violence or partner abuse situation, please call Safe Alliance at 704-332-2513 and they can help you.

Property Tax values and histories in Mecklenburg County can be searched on this site that includes links to Polaris and information about the reassessments that occurred in 2011. You can find more detailed information on real estate values on the Mecklenburg Modria site. 

Charlotte 311 is your connection to city services, including Animal Control, Street Maintenance, Bulky Trash Pick-up, Parking Enforcement, and all other non-police related matters. Dial 311 or visit their website to fill out a form and have your issue addressed as soon as possible.    

Voter Information: You can find your current information on the NC Voter Lookup page. You can also find interactive versions of the new House & Senate maps HERE.   
Don’t forget! Visit today to see if you have unclaimed property under the supervision of the NC Treasurer’s office.

My office is here to help you navigate any issues you may have with state services. Please call myself or my legislative assistant, Ralph Belk, at 919-733-5607 or email me at with any questions or concerns


Bill blocking State Health Plan changes clears House

Special Report: What happens when a state expands Medicaid?
North Carolina Health Care News

Pastors say to address the opioid crisis, expand Medicaid
North Carolina Health Care News

NC sheriffs now oppose mandate to help ICE – but it’s closer to becoming law
The News & Observer

State House passes bill on sheriffs working with ICE; NC Sheriff’s Assn opposes it

NC Orders Duke Energy to Dig Up Millions of Tons of Coal Ash at Six Power Plants
Charlotte Observer

Opinion:  Customers shouldn’t pay for Duke’s new coal ash clean up
Charlotte Observer

The USS North Carolina Is Battling A New Enemy: Climate Change

Opinion:  Support NC families with paid family leave
The News & Observer

Fix student voter ID before election
The Courier-Tribune

PRO: Arming teachers will protect students (column)
The News & Observer

CON: Arm teachers with books, not gun (column)
The News & Observer

Our view: Ending LGBTQ discrimination
Winston-Salem Journal

NC Democrats Seek To Pass 'Historic' LGBTQ Protections

N.C. legislators propose new protections for LGBTQ+ residents
The Daily Tar Heel

NC House Agrees To Repeal Corporal Punishment In School
Associated Press

On Fox News, NC Speaker calls out ‘sanctuary sheriffs’ for ignoring ICE. What’s their legal duty?
The News & Observer

Hidden history: How NC’s education system overlooks harsh realities of Natives past and present
NC Policy Watch

Editorial:  NC lawmakers overreach again, this time on abortion restrictions
The News & Observer

Offshore Drilling Plan on Atlantic Coast Expected Soon
Public News Service

Wind farm ban proposed in eastern NC
Daily Advance
Mecklenburg County NC House Districts Effective for the 2018 Election 
Copyright © 2019 Representative Mary Belk, All rights reserved.

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