From the desk of Senator Joyce Waddell

State Legislature held a historic Session

Joyce Waddell

The state legislature returned Tuesday, April 28, 2020 for the first time since the pandemic spread to North Carolina, to start a historic session like no other.

Many lawmakers wore masks and sat apart from each other in a Legislative Building that was much more empty, and quiet, than usual. Our primary task is to pass COVID-19 relief.

As of Thursday, May 1, 2020, North Carolina has 10,509 positive cases and 378 deaths.

Governor Cooper and Secretary Mandy Cohen shared an update on where North Carolina stands in the fight against COVID-19 and urged North Carolinians not to let their guard down.

I am hopeful that we will be ready to move into Phase 1 of easing restrictions next week.

Visit the NC DHHS dashboard for more information about COVID-19 in NC.

If you are sick or think you may have COVID-19, start by calling your doctor, public health department or community health center to talk to a medical professional by phone. They can help you make a plan for what to do next. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, call the COVID-19 helpline at 1-866-462-3821.

North Carolinians can call 2-1-1 if they need help or resources in response to COVID-19.

Listed below are some resources that may be helpful:

•If you have lost your job or had your work hours cut drastically due to COVID-19, consider applying for unemployment benefits here.

•If you own a small business that has been harmed by COVID-19, consider applying for a disaster relief loan here.

•For more information, visit the websites of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Help Lines:

Text Updates: Text COVID19 to 889211 to sign up for statewide updates

COVID-19 Updates: 1-888-892-1162

Childcare Assistance: 1-888-600-1685

General Questions: 1-866-462-3821

Report a Scam: 1-877-5NO-SCAM

Small Business Help Line: 1-800-659-2955

2019 Tax Filing Concerns: 1-877-252-3052

Session News

SB704: COVID-19 Recovery Act - State lawmakers have been back in Raleigh to work on the coronavirus relief package, deciding how to spend the $3.5 billion the federal government sent to North Carolina. The work comes roughly a month after Congress passed its federal relief package.

Governor: $1.4 billion

House: $1.7 billion

Senate: $1.3 billion

This relief bill is the result of bipartisan efforts by legislators to respond to the most critical needs facing our state. We support it with the understanding that this is just the beginning of our work. We are committed to providing the best support possible.

There is more to do to support and protect our prisons, public safety workers, our schools and our elections system.

•Funding allocations in S.B. 704 include:

•$50 million for PPEs

• $300 million to local governments

•$25 million to DHHS for testing and tracing efforts

•$22 million for child nutrition

•$61 million to support underserved communities

•$125 million in small business loans administered by the Golden LEAF Foundation

In addition to allocating more than $1.3 billion in federal funding, S.B. 704 also makes policy changes to help alleviate the stress that COVID-19 has put on our families, our communities, and our institutions:

•Increase unemployment benefits to $400/week

•Waive interest payments on UNC student bills and personal and commercial income taxes.

• Waive end of year testing for students

•Extend DMV deadlines for six months

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