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General Assembly Adjourns: Leaves AARP with a Few Wins and Much More to Accomplish

The General Assembly concluded the legislative session with a whirlwind of new laws, a new budget and an overhaul of the tax system. It also left behind a new set of challenges for older adults who recognize the importance of issues including increased health care access, increased funding for home and community-based services and support for those who are unemployed.

AARP volunteers were instrumental in stopping proposals that would have added a state tax to Social Security, prescription drugs and groceries. They were also successful in beating back proposals that would have raised auto insurance rates and allowed storefront payday lenders to open up businesses in our state.

With growing waiting lists for services provided through the Home and Community Care Block Grant (HCBG) programs, AARP’s advocacy helped prevent cuts to the funding for these programs.  As the need grows and 2.3 million Boomers advance in age, demand for services that help people stay in their homes like home-delivered meals and in-home health care will also grow and AARP will be calling for increased support for HCBG funding in the years to come.

When it comes to health, advocates for the uninsured were unable to convince lawmakers to use available federal funding to provide health insurance to over a half-million uninsured. The financial security of unemployed North Carolinians was also threatened when unemployment compensation was drastically cut.

Older adults who want to enrich their education or learn skills for today’s job market will also have to pay as the General Assembly eliminated a tuition waiver for those ages 65 plus to take up to six hours of noncredit classes at community colleges.

Does any of this activity make you want to become a more active voter? Better plan ahead. Changes to the state’s voting laws were also enacted that among other things require state approved photo identification, reducing the amount of early voting and prohibiting the extension of voting hours.

For a full summary of 2013 legislation, 2013 Legislative Summary

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Ivelin Radkov

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