NC JUSTICE NEWS: Lottery Sales + Migrant Workers + Defenders of Justice Honorees

April 3, 2012

LOTTERY: Most impoverished NC counties top lottery sales

North Carolina adults spent an average of $212 on lottery tickets last year, with the state’s biggest lottery consumers residing in the state’s most impoverished counties. N.C. Policy Watch's investigative report features interviews with a variety of residents, some of whom spend as much as $100 each day on the N.C. Education Lottery.

N.C. Policy Watch discovered that the average per capita sales figures more than double in areas such as Halifax County, where per capita lottery sales were $516, the second-highest in the state. More than a quarter of Halifax's population lives under the federal poverty line, which is roughly defined as a household income of $23,000 for a family of four. More than $21.7 million was spent on lottery tickets in Halifax County in 2011, and $1.5 billion statewide.

EITC: How workers benefit from Earned Income Tax Credit

At a time when working North Carolinians face stagnant wages, declining benefits and higher costs for their most basic needs, the Earned Income Tax Credit can make all the difference in offering support to low and moderate-income families across the state.

A new report from the NC Budget & Tax Center analyzes the occupations that are income-eligible for the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credit and finds that earning entry-level and average salaries in a range of occupations could be eligible for the EITC, including firefighters, library technicians, nursing aides, teachers, police patrol officers, restaurant cooks and waitresses, retail salespersons, and office administration workers.

The EITC has been a proven strategy to support workers. It benefits not only the taxpayers who receive the credit but also their families and local economies. Workers in occupations that are essential for the overall well-being of the state – such as workers in education, health and public safety – are able to make ends meet and continue working toward a more secure economic future.

MIGRANT WORKERS: Study finds rampant law violations across NC

A study has uncovered widespread violations in migrant housing across North Carolina, showing a disturbing trend in inadequate and harmful conditions for farm workers.

According to the study by the Center for Worker Health at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, migrant housing is plagued with violations. Researchers uncovered at least four violations of the North Carolina Housing Act in each of the 183 camps they inspected, including infestations of roaches, mice and rats, non-working toilets and showers, contaminated drinking water, and a lack of fire safety equipment.

The North Carolina Department of Labor is responsible for enforcing migrant housing law, and the researchers used NCDOL migrant housing standards to evaluate the homes and labor camps they visited. It’s imperative that NCDOL take note of these findings and increase inspections of farm worker housing before any more lives are put at risk.

DEFENDERS OF JUSTICE AWARDS: The 2012 honorees

The Justice Center presents its Defender of Justice Awards to honor individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions in the fight against poverty in four areas that reflect the scope of the Justice Center’s work. The 2012 honorees are:

LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY

  • State Representative Deborah Ross of Wake County for her dedication to increasing access to affordable housing and public transportation, protecting civil rights, and reforming the state's tax system to make it more fair and transparent.
  • State Representative Larry Hall of Durham County for his commitment to protecting vulnerable families and members of the military from predatory lenders, safeguarding voting rights, and expanding opportunities for low-income individuals and communities throughout the state.

POLICY RESEARCH AND ADVOCACY

  • Disability Rights North Carolina for their research and advocacy efforts to uphold the fundamental rights of people with disabilities to live free from harm in the communities of their choice and with the opportunity to participate fully and equally in society.

LITIGATION

  • Mary Lee Hall of Legal Aid of NC’s Farmworker Unit for fighting to protect the rights and improve the well-being of the tens of thousands of migrant and seasonal farmworkers who work in North Carolina’s fields.

COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT

  • Reuben Blackwell of Rocky Mount for his tenacity in opening doors to opportunity, breaking down barriers, and standing up for the rights and well-being of the people of Rocky Mount and the state.

The event will be held on Thursday, May 10, 2012 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Bay 7 in the American Tobacco Campus, Durham. Purchase your ticket today!

CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER CARE: Luncheon in Greensboro

Join the NC Justice Center and AARP NC on Tuesday, April 17 for the next Campaign for Better Care community luncheon and make your voice heard on one of the most important, complex issues in North Carolina today.

The Campaign for Better Care aims to make improvements in the health system for vulnerable older adults and to build a strong, lasting consumer voice for better health care. Come and share your experiences about what you think needs to be changed in our health system, and take advantage of the expertise offered from the AARP and the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).

The free event will be held from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Beloved Community Center in Greensboro. To reserve your space, contact the Beloved Community Center at 336-230-0001 or Nicole Dozier at nicole@ncjustice.org or 919-856-2146.

COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY: Panel to address access, budget

Despite its long history of generous support for higher education, North Carolina has not successfully kept pace with the rapidly increasing cost of attending college for its students. As costs rise and aid tightens, North Carolina risks losing the dynamic and creative economy that its higher education system has supported for decades.

On Wednesday, April 4th, the NC Justice Center, Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change at NC Central University, and the national public policy organization Demos will co-host a panel, “Shrinking Budgets, Growing Debt: Is College Still Affordable?” This discussion will address trends in funding for our state’s universities and how these trends create challenges in accessing a post-secondary education.

The event will be held at North Carolina Central University’s Alfonso Elder Student Union at 7:30 p.m. on April 4, and will feature Alexandra Forter Sirota (NC Justice Center), Dr. Jarvis Hall (NC Central University), Jasmine Hicks (Young Invincibles), and John Quinterno (Demos). The panelists will discuss policy recommendations to promote fair and open access to the benefits of higher education and assess how students, lawmakers, and advocates can work together to promote and ensure opportunity for all.

"OUT OF CONTROL" TOUR: Public forum in Greensboro

The General Assembly’s “midnight attack” on North Carolina’s teachers in January revealed a remarkable willingness to ram through an extreme agenda, no matter what it takes.

Please join N.C. Policy Watch and some key progressive allies at a series of public forums that will explore: how North Carolina's extreme right-wing General Assembly is turning back the clock, who's bankrolling its agenda, and what it means for our lives. You’ll have a chance to ask questions and share your perspective, too.

Greensboro: Thursday, April 5, 7:00 p.m., Presbyterian Church of the Cross, 1810 Phillips Ave. Featured speakers: Chris Fitzsimon, MaryBe McMillan, Linda Sutton, and Chris Kromm. Register here.

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