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Rep. Ray Russell’s Raleigh Report: Newsletter Highlighting Info from NC General Assembly

February 5, 2020
NC in Strong Financial Position to Issue Bonds
This week the Debt Affordability Advisory Committee, chaired by State Treasurer Dale Folwell, voted unanimously to approve the Debt Affordability Study that shows North Carolina is in a strong financial position to issue new bonds. Last year, Gov. Roy Cooper proposed a $3.9 billion bond to renovate and build new schools and upgrade aging local water and sewer systems across our state. The committee’s report states that North Carolina can afford to borrow $11 billion over the next 10 years.
The Governor’s proposed bond is a responsible path forward to help North Carolina keep up with the demands of population growth. The proposed bond includes $2 billion for K-12 public schools statewide to help meet the estimated $8 billion need for renovations and new schools. It includes $500 million each for facility improvements at community colleges and University of North Carolina System institutions and $800 million for local water and sewer projects. The proposal also invests $100 million in the NC Museum of History and the NC Zoo, cultural institutions that help educate North Carolinians and contribute to the economy.
To learn more about how local areas could benefit from the Governor’s proposed bond, click HERE.
NC Infant Mortality Suffers with No Medicaid Expansion
Medicaid expansion would help North Carolina’s economy by bringing federal tax dollars into the state to use for health care services. The Cone Health Foundation estimated by 2022 this would amount to $4.7 billion dollars and 37,000 jobs into our state’s economy.
Medicaid expansion would close the health care coverage gap for 634,000 people by 2022. Expansion not only helps those folks, but also all of us who currently have coverage but face higher health care costs because we all ultimately pay for ER uncompensated care of the uninsured.
Health care jobs and lower costs are very important, but perhaps the most heart-breaking consequence of failing to expand Medicaid is that more babies die when states do not act, particularly African-American babies.
The American Journal of Public Health recently found that states that expanded Medicaid saw significant drops in their infant mortality rates compared with states like North Carolina. 
North Carolina needs to expand Medicaid so our most vulnerable and precious citizens can get the start to life that they deserve.
NC Policy Watch
Proposed Duke Energy Rate Hike
Last September Duke Energy filed an application with the NC Utilities Commission to increase residential rates by 6.7%, commercial rates by 5.1%, and industrial rates by 4.8%. The North Carolina Utilities Commission is a state agency created to regulate the utility rates. It is the oldest regulatory body in state government.
The Utilities Commission is currently considering the proposed rate increase and accepting public input. You can email the Commission using this email form. Include docket number “E-7 Sub 1214” in the docket number line. 
Residents of Ashe and Watauga counties are not affected by the proposed rate hikes, but we’ve received many emails from the district about Duke Energy’s policies, and wanted keep everyone informed.
News & Record
NC Policy Watch
Duke Energy
One-Stop Early Voting in Watauga and Ashe
One-Stop Early Voting Schedule for Watauga
All sites are open the following dates and times:
  • Thursday, Feb 13 & Friday, Feb 14: 8 am-7:30 pm
  • Monday, Feb 17–Friday, Feb 21: 8 am-7:30 pm
  • Monday, Feb 24–Friday, Feb 28: 8 am-7:30 pm
  • Saturday, Feb 29: 8 am-3 pm
Locations (You can vote at any One-Stop site in Watauga County)
  1. Watauga County Administration Building, 814 West King Street, Boone
  2. ASU Plemmons Student Union, Blue Ridge Ballroom, 263 Locust Street, Boone
  3. Blowing Rock Town Hall, 1036 Main Street
  4. Blowing Rock Deep Gap Fire Department, 6583 Old 421 South, Deep Gap
  5. Meat Camp Fire Department, 4797 NC Hwy 194 North
  6. Meat Camp Western Watauga Community Center, 1081 Old US 421
  7. Sugar Grove High Country Vacation Homes, 520 Church Road, Foscoe 
Sample Ballots can be found on the Watauga County Board of Elections website:
If you have any questions, please contact Matthew Snyder at the Watauga County Board of Elections.
842 West King Street, Suite 6 – PO Box 528 – Boone NC 28607
Fax: 828-265-8068 
One-Stop Early Voting Schedule for Ashe
Location: Ashe County Courthouse
Board of Elections Office
150 Government Circle, Ste 2100
Jefferson, NC 28640
  • Thursday, Feb 13 & Friday, Feb 14: 8 am–7:30 pm
  • Saturday, Feb 15: 8 am – 3 pm
  • Monday, Feb 17–Friday, Feb 21: 8 am–7:30 pm
  • Saturday, Feb 22: 8 am – 3 pm
  • Monday, Feb 24–Friday, Feb 28: 8 am-7:30 pm
  • Saturday, Feb 29: 8 am–3 pm
For more information, contact the Ashe County Board of Elections:
Fax: 336.846.5574
Rep. Russell On the Go!
I attended the following events and meetings over the last three weeks. I want to thank all who welcomed me and helped me learn more about the needs and issues of our district.
  • Spoke before the Banner Elk Kiwanis Club during a their luncheon meeting then fielded questions from the members.
  • Met with hemp farmers from Ashe and Watauga counties concerning their issues with proposed legislation.
  • Attended a roundtable meeting of Ashe County municipal and county officials to discuss areas of common interest and to facilitate open lines of communication.
Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Members of Cox’s Grove Baptist Church Choir and Community Voices performed at the Ashe County Arts Council as part of the community celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which I attended last week.
Boone community leaders came together on MLK Day to celebrate the civil rights icon and to dedicate a street in his name. Entertainment for the event was provided by the Boone Mennonite Brethren Church Choir. It was an honor to attend both events.