Newsletter from the office of Representative Mary Belk.
View this email in your browser


As my family gathers from far and wide to celebrate Christmas, we want to wish you all the joy and light of the holiday season.

I hope we can all take a bit of time to consider that all most people around the world want is a quiet, safe place to raise their families, build their dreams, and contribute to their communities.

There may be funds to be raised and elections to be won off convincing us our differences are more important than our solidarity, but deep down, I think most of us know better.

If we can start the new year with that in mind, I believe it will do us all a world of good.
Rep. Carney and Rep. Elect Hunt joined me at the LifeSpan campus for a discussion with representatives of local health organizations and the Metrolina Provider Network about funding challenges for mental health and developmental disabilities.


One of the most underreported stories of the 2018 midterm elections was the victory of Medicaid Expansion by voter referendum in three traditionally conservative states: Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska. Voters in these states were persuaded that the federal funds available to expand insurance coverage in their states would lead to more investment in local communities and better health outcomes for everyone. North Carolina does not have a voter referendum mechanism in our state constitution, so we must convince the leadership of the General Assembly to pass a Medicaid Expansion bill in the next biennium.

Democrats picked up nine seats in the NC House last election, but the Republicans will still have a five-seat majority when we return to Raleigh in January. The two parties long ago agreed that we will not turn people in need away from our hospitals. If we keep that fundamental moral agreement in mind, we can understand the current debate as seeking the best way to pay for a system we’ve already agreed to create.

In my conversations across the aisle, I will highlight the bipartisan priorities like job creation and health care savings that Medicaid Expansion will bring to North Carolina.  

I recently looked over a report from the Cone Health Foundation that found North Carolina missed out on over $5 billion in federal funding in 2014-2016 that would have been invested in North Carolina’s healthcare sector under Medicaid Expansion. In 44 of NC’s most rural counties, the local hospital is one of the five biggest employers and every one of those hospitals would have seen millions of dollars in additional revenue.  

Similarly, a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the 2016 Medicaid Expansion in Michigan created 39,000 additional jobs and led to at least $2.2 billion in additional income for residents on the state.    

Finally, another fairly exhaustive survey published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that average out of pocket healthcare spending was reduced by 11.9% in states that have expanded Medicaid. That’s a survey of ALL the population of the states, not just the low income population that would be served by Medicaid expansion.

The political, economic, and moral arguments for Medicaid Expansion are compelling. We need to make sure the leadership understands that in 2019.
This data is based on research done by the Cone Health Foundation


This week, the lame duck GOP supermajorities that lost their seats in November’s election overrode Governor Cooper’s veto of SB824, a bill to implement the voter photo ID constitutional amendment. It provides the critical details of how election officials will enforce the photo ID requirement. Normally, we would have passed it PRIOR to November’s vote so that the voters would understand their choice, but legislative leaders decided to withhold that information.
In November, the voters, by a vote of 55% to 45%, amended the North Carolina Constitution to require a photo ID when voting in person. The photo ID requirement does not apply to mail-in absentee ballots.

North Carolina’s new photo ID requirement should be simple - a voter needs to show a photo ID to prove to election officials that you are who you say you are. That is what the voters supported and approved.

Unfortunately and predictably, SB824 is far from simple. It is 21 pages of picking winners and losers, by declaring that some photo IDs work and some do not. Basically, it creates different rules for different people. That’s not right. When we are talking about the right to vote, everyone should be treated equally.

Too many types of valid photo IDs are NOT accepted at all. Here are some examples of unacceptable photo IDs:
  • Bank and commercial institution IDs (credit/debit cards)
  • Nursing home or other adult living facilities IDs
  • Public assistance IDs
  • High school IDs
  • IDs issued by private employers
  • Temporary drivers license issued by the DMV until a permanent license arrives in the mail

SB824 allows some voters to use expired or outdated IDs, but prohibits others from doing so. For example:
  • A military or veterans license will be accepted no matter how old it is.
  • A driver’s license will be rejected if it has been expired for over a year. The same is true for state/local government IDs, student IDs, tribal IDs, and passports.
  • Voters 65 and over may use expired licenses in some circumstances where voters under 65 cannot.

SB824 does not address real problems with election fraud in North Carolina - fraud that is making national news. Almost every part of SB 824 focuses on virtually non-existent, in-person voter fraud, not mail-in absentee ballots, which are far more vulnerable to fraudulent activity. There is growing evidence of significant election fraud in southeastern North Carolina involving absentee ballots. The fraud is so egregious that the entire 9th District U.S. Congressional election may be tossed out and re-run.

Voting lines are about to get much longer under SB824. By being forced to evaluate acceptable versus unacceptable IDs, election workers will take up more time and slow the process for everyone, with the potential for much longer lines and significant wait times. Long lines have a chilling effect on voter participation.

Our county election officials have a lot more work and a lot more expenses under SB824. It is going to take longer to vote, which means either longer lines or more money spent on polling locations and polling workers. Counties pay for a lot of election administration and these added expense will be a huge burden on them without enough State money to help. 

I voted against SB824 because I think it’s the wrong approach to implement the photo ID requirement passed by the voters. Here are some basic guidelines that I adhere to:
  • Every citizen should have the equal opportunity to cast a ballot.
  • Any photo ID that allows an election worker to identify the voter should be allowed. This prevents fraud while protecting a citizen’s right to vote.
  • Voting procedures should shorten lines for voters. Long lines are inexcusable and serve to suppress the vote.
  • Early voting hours and locations must be protected.
  • We must work to find ways to make it easier to register to vote.
Ensuring the integrity of the election process is a basic responsibility in a free and functioning democracy. Where there is evidence of fraud, North Carolina should take reasonable steps to prevent it. Currently, the evidence points to election fraud through vulnerabilities in our absentee ballot procedures, not in-person voter fraud. That should be our priority going forward.


This week, the General Assembly passed and Governor Cooper vetoed HB1029, which largely returns the elections, ethics, and lobbying administration to how it was prior to Roy Cooper becoming Governor. If the bill becomes law, we will basically be back to where we started in November 2016, minus a lot of money in legal fees and more than a little confusion.

You may remember that after Roy Cooper was elected in November 2016, but prior to him taking office in January 2017, Republicans changed how North Carolina administers elections and enforces ethics and lobbying laws – a change, not surprisingly, that greatly limited the Governor’s authority.

Governor Cooper challenged the changes in the courts and won. The new bill seeks to mostly restore the system as it existed before. 

I support the main points of the bill, but I was still forced to vote against it because of two provisions that will limit transparency in elections investigations. These provisions would make confidential all information on investigations into campaign finance violations or elections fraud. These provisions are highly suspect when there are serious investigations into members of both parties for finance violations and a congressional election under investigation for major election fraud.

If the Governor’s veto is overridden on the 27th, as expected, the Board of Elections will once again consist of five members appointed by the Governor from a list of recommendations submitted by the political parties.  No political party shall have more than three members. In practice, the Governor’s party will have three members and the next highest party will have two members.

Local county boards of elections will have five members. Two members from each of the two biggest parties and one member appointed by the Governor.

The State Ethics Commission will consist of eight members, four appointed by the Governor and four by General Assembly leaders. No party will have a majority.

The Secretary of State’s Office will resume its authority over lobbying laws. The Board of Elections will supervise elections and campaign finance enforcement. The Ethics Commission will have authority over ethics enforcement.
Dianne Russell left her position as the Legislative Assistant Coordinator for the NC House to take a bit of time and enjoy the finer things in life. Ralph and I wish her well (& Aloha)!


Are you ready to party like it's 2019?! How about getting the kids out of the house in holiday break week two? Here are some links to information on events happening around New Years. See you next year!

Charlotte Center City Partners New Years Uptown

31 Cheap Things To Do for New Years Around Charlotte

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


UNC System President Discusses Reasoning for Leaving Position
Spectrum News

School Violence Is Adding To Student Stress And Anxiety

NC DEQ Seeking Public Input On Proposed Settlement With Chemours

Editorial:  Independent redistricting commission needed before 2020
Fayetteville Observer editorial published in Greenville Daily Reflector

Plan to Peg State Employee Health Plan Prices to Medicare Rates May Face Legislative Opposition
North Carolina Health News

Aging Sewer Systems Spell Trouble Across North Carolina
North Carolina Health News

Governor’s education commission discusses teacher preparation, recruitment

NC lawmakers: Make schools safer by teaching about responsibility & controlling bleeding
The News & Observer

New Opioid Legislation Possible Next Year
North Carolina Health News

Foresight, Empathy, Adaptability: A Recipe for Happy Holidays for People with Dementia
North Carolina Health News

Amid fraud probe, an election redo might require new primary for 9th District

11 Charts That Changed the Way We Think About Schools in 2018

Recruiting and Retaining Rural Health Providers
North Carolina Health News

Expand Medicaid for military families and the opioid epidemic
NC Policy Watch

N.C. GOP legislators deny Greensboro judge a seat on N.C. Industrial Commission
News & Record
Mecklenburg County NC House Districts Effective for the 2018 Election 
Copyright © 2018 Representative Mary Belk, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list