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The Latest: Energized Democrats promote Medicaid expansion

January 30, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the North Carolina General Assembly beginning in earnest Wednesday its annual session (all times local):

1:55 p.m.

Larger and energized Democratic blocs in the North Carolina House and Senate say finally expanding Medicaid in the state is their top priority during this year’s legislative session.

Dozens of Democratic legislators held a Legislative Building news conference to discuss bills they filed Wednesday that would provide health coverage to hundreds of thousands of additional low-income people. They say it would help rural economies and hospitals in addition to making people healthier and treating opioid addiction.

Legislative Republicans essentially blocked expansion in 2013. GOP majorities are now narrower following the November elections, giving Gov. Roy Cooper and other Democrats negotiating power.

The bills filed Wednesday contain neither work requirements nor co-payments for the additional covered people. House Minority Leader Darren Jackson says the stripped-down bill would be the quickest way to begin expansion next fall and avoid delays.

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10:55 a.m.

North Carolina Senate Republicans have unveiled a public school construction plan that wouldn’t require additional borrowing that GOP House Speaker Tim Moore and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper support.

House Majority Leader Harry Brown and other senators filed a measure Wednesday that would expand a recently created state capital construction fund. The bill would direct a higher percentage of annual state revenues go to the fund. Brown tells reporters the amplified fund would generate $2 billion over nine years for K-12 school construction and maintenance.

Moore has been promoting his proposed $1.9 billion bond package that would go to voters in a 2020 referendum. Cooper also backs a debt package. Brown said at a news conference the Senate GOP proposal would be less expensive over time and distribute money quicker.

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