Short Session: Your Voices Need to be Heard!

2014 Legislative Short Session
Kay Castillo, BSW
National Association of Social Workers, NC Chapter and NCWU Secretary

Many North Carolinians fear the idea of being involved in advocacy. Perhaps this is due to the headlines you see in newspapers and online or the attack ads during election season that cause you to turn away. You may also think there is no point in being involved because your legislators do not share the same values as you. So with headlines about the NC Legislative Session starting May 14th, you are quick to ignore, roll your eyes, or move on to the next subject.

Your voice needs to be heard!

Since our legislators are part time, there is no way they are experts on ALL issues impacting women or other issues important to you. Many of our legislators barely make $14,000 for the work they do. Because of this, they have to have other jobs that support them being in office- jobs that are not human service related. Imagine telling your boss and coworkers that you will be out of the office starting May 14th and you’re not sure when you’ll be back- maybe the beginning of July but maybe not until August. Who will take on your clients, manage your classroom, and ensure your day to day tasks get done? You are the one working and living in legislators’ districts and you are the one that knows what is going on with yourself, clients, your job, and friends and family. This makes you the perfect person to relay these messages and stories to your legislators.

Think back to the 2013 Legislative Session. What changes did we see? Our entire tax structure was changed. Our voting laws were drastically changed. The budget was cut unfairly impacting human services and education. Medicaid was not expanded.

So, when legislators get back to work on May 14th, what will happen this time? During short session, legislators mostly focus on the budget. But we also anticipate policies impacting child welfare, foster care, juvenile justice, mental health, Medicaid,public education, and more. These are a result of bills that passed one chamber (the House or the Senate) but not the other. For now, we anticipate at least a four-week long session.

NC Women United will be present at the Legislative Building this summer. Join us or a number of our members as we talk to legislators about what matters to women in this state!