North Carolina Open Thread: Wetlands, Medicaid Expansion, Dunham’s Black Wall Street

Numerous N.C. wetlands lose protections under Farm Act and SCOTUS case

The Daily Tar Hill, Walker Livingston, 9/5/2023

Each year, the N.C. General Assembly passes a new Farm Act — a bill that creates guidelines for agricultural practices and environmental regulations in the state.

This year’s Farm Act, Senate Bill 582, included a controversial provision: it keeps the state from having to protect wetlands that do not meet the new federal definition of “navigable waters of the United States.” It was passed in the General Assembly, despite Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto, on June 27.

The new definition was established in the recent U.S. Supreme Court case, Sackett v. EPA, which was argued in October of last year and decided in May in a 5-4 decision. It changed the definition of waters of the U.S. under the Clean Water Act to only include “wetlands with a continuous surface connection to bodies that are ‘waters of the United States’ in their own right,” according to Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion .

The Clean Water Act provides environmental protections, like outlawing the discharge of certain pollutants and establishing wastewater standards. But it only applies to “navigable waters of the United States,” meaning a considerable amount of wetlands are now left without the protections of the Clean Water Act according to the Sackett decision.

Governor’s Crime Commission connects Medicaid expansion to criminal justice

NC Newsline, Kelan Lyons, 9/7/2023

As the rollout of Medicaid expansion remains delayed as lawmakers continue to negotiate the budget, the Governor’s Crime Commission passed a resolution Thursday acknowledging that extending healthcare to about 600,000 North Carolinians is a criminal justice issue.

“In rural communities, the biggest treatment facility often is the jail,” Pamela Thompson, a member of the Governor’s Crime Commission and an Alamance County commissioner, said in a statement. “The jail has become the new hospital. Expansion of Medicaid will help shore up healthcare resources across the state, ensuring North Carolinians have access to critical services.”

Across the state and nation, police and first responders are on the frontlines of responding to the country’s mental health care and substance abuse treatment crisis. “Our police departments and our jails too often are tasked with filling the health service gap that exists in our state,” Chairman Robert Evans said in a statement.

“This is a criminal justice issue impacting the safety of our communities,” said N.C. Department of Public Safety Secretary Eddie M. Buffaloe, Jr., who is also on the Governor’s Crime Commission. “North Carolinians need access to critical care, outside of our law enforcement agencies and jails.”

Research in the National Library of Medicine suggests that Medicaid expansion leads to significantly reduced arrests, especially arrests for drug selling and possession.

Once-thriving Black Wall Street in Durham legacy endures today

WRAL, 9/6/2023

Black Wall Street was a thriving African-American business district in Durham during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The area along Parrish Street centered around the Hayti neighborhood just east of downtown Durham, was home to over 200 Black-owned businesses, including banks, restaurants, theaters and shops.

The district was founded by African Americans excluded from doing business in white-owned establishments. Black people were not allowed to own businesses or property in white neighborhoods, so they created their community in the Hayti neighborhood.

n recent years, there has been a renewed push to revitalize Black Wall Street. The Hayti Heritage Center is working to preserve the district’s history, and several new businesses have opened in the area.

“We have maintained the traditions over the years by providing a space for community healing, joy, and safety for patrons, artists, and visitors,” said Angela Lee, Hayti Heritage executive artistic director.

Take-out cocktails and Sunday liquor store runs: lawmakers consider new alcohol legislation

WUNC, Colin Campbell, 9/5/2023

State lawmakers are considering a bill to allow ABC stores to open on Sundays, as part of wide-ranging alcohol legislation.

The bill passed its first House committee Tuesday. If it becomes law, local governments could decide whether to open liquor stores on Sundays and some holidays. The bill would also allow restaurants and bars to offer take-out and delivery cocktails. That’s something that was allowed during the times of COVID-19 restrictions, and the hospitality industry wants to bring it back.

Jason Smith is the owner of Cantina 18 in Raleigh. “It was a major uptick for many restaurateurs,” he said. “To-go sales have dwindled, and it’s a great way to push to-go sales up.” Smith also praised a change that would allow restaurants and bars to buy their liquor from ABC stores when the ABC warehouse runs out of particular brands.

The bill would also create a new permit for mobile bartenders who provide alcoholic drinks at events. And a new addition to the legislation would allow alcohol sales at community college sporting events.

Carolina (0-0) at Atlanta (0-0) 1:00PM

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