North Carolina State Senate
North Carolina State Senate
Hold Military Moving Companies Accountable
An Open Letter To Our Elected Officials - Every year thousands of military service members and their families pack up and move on military orders. All of their memories, heirlooms, worldly processions, keepsakes, pro-gear, kids toys, and some useless stuff, otherwise known as household goods (HHGs) gets packed up by contracted strangers, loaded onto a truck and driven across country. If you are on the lucky side of things, your HHGs will arrive with a few scratches and maybe a broken bowl. However, most everyone ends up on the other side. Boxes will be unloaded smashed and torn, furniture will come off broken in multiple pieces, and other items will just go missing. It will be brushed off as “don’t worry, you can just file a claim”, and while that might be true, there are things that money just can’t fix. Money can’t replace the broken hutch inherited from my grandmother. Money can’t fix the missing foot board from the custom made bed. Money can’t fix my discontinued, now smashed in to pieces wedding china. And money can’t fix the box of my children’s baby memories box that never arrived. I know, we should just leave these things with family! While that is a good thought, it’s not always possible. Some service members just don’t have the family available to leave these things! Every year, thousands of service members file claims with moving companies. Within the last 2 years the average claim has been around $10,000, with an average of only 50-60% of that being paid out. Over the last 5 years, the PCS season has become more and more horrendous to deal with. The major moving companies being awarded the contracts, often sub contract out to smaller, local companies. Many of these companies do not understand how military bases work- usually sending drivers or crews who have a felony background, can’t access post, or a truck that has expired registration. These companies also do a poor job in packing and handling of the HHGs. Many times the crew will pack as quickly as possible to get to the next job to make more money. In doing so, things are usually packed improperly, allowing for damage to occur. When loaded into the truck or unloaded at the storage facility or destination, everything is usually just thrown around without a care. When Service members and families speak up about how things are being handled, we are usually scolded, degraded, and told to just let them do their job. In one of our recent moves we had a mattress come off the truck soaking wet. When I questioned it and ask what my son was suppose to sleep on, the driver took a furniture pad off the dresser and said he could sleep on that. When we moved to our current location, I questioned the driver about my high value list, and the markings on the inventory about the furniture. The response I received was “this is just how we do it.” Then when we arrived, our range bags complete with range equipment were missing. Our military service members and their families already sacrifice so much for this country. The deployments, holidays missed, birthdays not celebrated, their children’s firsts moments, training time, and sometimes even their life. Is it so much to ask that moving companies take a little more care in handling our memories? Is it so much to ask our elected officials to step in and protect our service members from the headache and heartache during a PCS? I challenge you to start holding these companies accountable. I challenge you to step up your game and ease the worry burden on our military families. MilitarySpouseChronicles #PCSChronicles #MemoriesSmashed
Change Outdated NC Law That Does Not Allow Consent to be Withdrawn After Sex Begins
Late last year, my estranged husband brutally raped me. When he came to my house -- angry and belligerent -- I initially consented to having sex with him because I thought it was safest to say yes. But he grew more and more violent, and I became more and more scared and uncomfortable. I begged and pleaded for him to stop, but he refused. He attacked me for more than an hour and a half. It was horrific, and no one should have to endure that. Soon after, I pressed charges against him. But because of a North Carolina legal case in 1979 that says a victim can’t revoke consent after sex has begun, even if it turns violent, he wasn’t charged with rape. He merely pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor assault on a female, which resulted in roughly 10 months in prison. North Carolina is the only state where ‘no’ doesn’t actually mean ‘no’ -- and this loophole remains. If this happened in Virginia or South Carolina, he would’ve been tried with rape, and he would’ve served a much longer sentence. This is not acceptable. It’s not okay for me or the many others who have been or will be sexually assaulted in the future. It is not justice, plain and simple. That’s why I’m asking you to help me, my attorney, Kris Hilscher, and Sen. Jeff Jackson hold rapists accountable. Please sign this petition in support of a legislative bill in North Carolina that will reverse this horrible law and will lead to a new one that says ‘no’ actually means ‘no’ at every single point. Unfortunately, I won’t benefit from this bill. But other women could, and you can help them get the protection they need by changing this law. North Carolina cannot wait any longer.
Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!
I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. Filipino Amerasians are abandoned and neglected biracial children of Filipino mothers and American fathers (mostly members of the US armed forces). In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. As a former US colony between 1898 and 1946, the Philippines was home to millions of US soldiers and their dependents, even after its independence. Until 1992, the country hosted two of the largest US military facilities outside the US – Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, which played major roles during the Vietnam and first Gulf wars. In 1982 US Public Law 97-359, or the Amerasian Act of 1982, allowed children from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand to move to the US and eventually become American citizens, but those who were from the Philippines were excluded from the law, an exclusion which was upheld by the US Senate on the basis that many Filipino Amerasians were “conceived from illicit affairs and prostitution”, and were born during peacetime. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2018, HR 1520, creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Currently, blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggles to connect to their American military families. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017, HR 1520, now!
Wake County Walkout to End Gun Violence
"We are the students, we are the victims, we are change, fight gun violence now! High School students across the U.S.A., the way to fight back is here. Ther has been too much complacency on the part of politicians when it comes to gun violence. The time to act is now!" - The National School Walkout Change.org petition. On February 14th, a high school shooting took place in Parkland, Florida and resulted in the premature deaths of 17 innocent teachers and students. Still, the government has failed to act and to adequately protect our generation. The National Student Walkout is meant to empower the voice of teenagers. Most of us cannot vote and so our voice is silenced and marked off. Yet, we are the victims of these awful and mindless crimes. Enough is enough. It is time for us to speak out and take matters into our own hands. We as Wake County students are protesting the violence in solidarity with all of our brothers and sisters across the nation. We are protesting the same violence that occurs at the places where we are supposed to learn and grow. We are protesting the same violence that results in the average of seven children and teens in America being killed with guns every day (https://eveyrtownresearch.org We are protesting the same violence that has not had any laws put in place to address it. We are protesting gun violence. The Plan: Wednesday, March 14th: On the one-month anniversary of the Parkland Shooting we the students of Wake County are going to join in the National High School Student Walk Out. We are going to walk out of school at 10:00 AM promptly and voice our opinions for 17 minutes. We will wear orange to symbolize our unity and protest online and in our communities. Sign this pledge if you are willing to support the cause to protect your life and the lives of those you love.
Remove the penalty that prevents people with disabilities from marrying!
When we think of marriage equality, we think about the ongoing fight LGBT couples face, but another minority group must deal with the stark reality that they are better off living in long-term committed relationships, without marriage. Like LGBT couples, these couples are denied the right to over 1,100 rights afforded to married couples. They have been denied access into their loved ones hospital rooms, faced family disputes over wills and have been denied spousal benefits from their partners workplace or the government in the event of their partners death. These are people with disabilities. Many people rely on the government for medical and financial assistance. Without medical insurance they would have no way to live independently. They would be forced into nursing homes (some already are), which would cost the government significantly more than getting Medicare and/or Medicaid does. At the same time, this assistance comes with a price. The government expects married couples to share income and that affects any assistance the couple receives. For many, their spouse makes too much (even if they make meager SSDI payments). This cuts into the healthcare services these couples receive. For some, their able-bodied partners make too much to allow them to qualify for medical assistance, if married, but not enough to pay out of pocket for costly medical equipment, medicine, or any other needs the disabled partner has. Add in the fact that even when a person with a disability can work, the opportunity for quality medical insurance is hard to find, due to their pre-existing condition and you will understand why many couples with disabilities are forced to live in domestic partnerships. Also, if two people with disabilities marry and they are on SSI or SSDI, their payments are CUT significantly, making it hard for them to maintain independence and afford their own food, shelter, clothing or other necessities. The time to stand up is now!! Let your Senators and Representatives know you want to remove the income caps placed on individuals with disabilities, so they can keep the government assistance and still be able to get married. Every loving couple deserves the right to marry. No one should have to choose between their wheelchair and their love, their therapy and their love, their medication and their love, their ability to eat or have a roof over their head and their love!! Those are not choices!! Help make it possible for those with disabilities to share their love without being penalized!Join our fight for marriage equality for people with disabilities:https://www.facebook.com/MarriageEqualityForPeopleWithDisabilities
Revoke the statute protecting hunting dogs from citation for aggressive and dangerous behavior toward people, livestock, and pets while engaged in a hunt.
On October 13, 2014, my dogs and I were viciously attacked by a large pack of out of control hunting dogs while backpacking in the mountains of North Carolina. The hunters took 45 minutes to arrive and pull their dogs off of me (12 dogs in total). During the fight to protect the lives of my dogs, I was bitten badly several times in my hands and legs. My dogs were nearly killed and suffered serious wounds. I have no doubt my dogs would have been killed if I had not defended them. The hunters took no ownership of the damages their dogs inflicted (totaling ~$1800 in damages) and continue to hide from authorities. During the process of this traumatic event, I was told that the owners of hunting dogs are exempt from being cited for aggressive and dangerous behavior (including killing of pets or livestock) while engaged in a lawful hunt. Hunting dogs need to be on equal footing with other dogs. There is no excuse for allowing such behavior to occur nor for no laws being present to hold hunters accountable for poorly trained and dangerous dogs. Dogs acting in a pack are capable of killing not only family pets and livestock, but also people. Please sign the petition to ask that legislators remove language granting hunting dogs protection from being cited for their dangerous behavior. Please note: these dogs are allowed to train in the woods for 8 months out of the year. Avoiding hunting season does not mean you will not run into them. http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/10/20/charges-hunting-dog-attack-graham-forest/17623053/
Justice for Jesse Help us get Randolph County Officials invite the SBI to investigate the death of my son, Jesse Maness
My son, Jesse Maness, age 24, went missing on October 13th. He was last seen in a parking lot of a restaurant, Compadres of Siler City at 2:30am. They found Jesse on October 19th face down in a creek off Hwy 22/42 in Bennett, Randolph County. It appeared that he ran off the bridge (no guardrail) and landed on the creek bank. The police propose that he crawled out the window onto the dry land, and then pulled himself into the water. His body was found 30 ft. away from the car, upstream, in about 18 in. of stagnant water. This creek is very shallow and does not flow. The water is black with sediment. There were no apparent injuries to his body that would determine cause of death. He did have a severely fractured hip. When we identified Jesse's body, he looked like he was just sleeping. No marks on his body that would be cause of death, no bloating, decomposition, or discoloration. His hands looked wrinkled as if they had been in water a long time. The coroner said that he didn't think that Jesse had been dead long (1-3 days at most) and did not look like he had been in the water long (less than 24 hours). Jesse was found with no pants, shoes, and just one sock on. The shirt he was wearing when he left was a light cream color. They found him wearing a dark slate blue thermal underwear shirt like what he usually slept in. The creek and bridge where he was found had been searched earlier in the week. His car and body were not there. I have signed and recorded statements of the people who checked the bridge and actually walked under it and saw no evidence of Jesse or his car. I also talked to the medical examiner in Chapel Hill who did the autopsy. Although she had not officially released the report, she told me that Jesse’s cause of death was drowning and that he had been dead anywhere from 24 hours-3 days. She also said that he had not been in the water more than 24 hours. There was clear water in his lungs and 300 ml of dark fluid in his stomach. She did not test for diatoms because she said she was not told that there was any question about his death. Her understanding was that Jesse was found in his car, overturned in a creek. She was not told that he had been missing for several days. I feel that several pertinent details about the scene of his death were not relayed to the ME's office. A detective with the RCSO assured us that he would escort Jesse's body to Chapel Hill and inform them of the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. I have contacted the chief medical examiner and she agrees that there needs to be a review of the autopsy results. Although they ruled Jesse’s death as a drowning, there were several indicators that contradict that theory. I also contacted several experts in forensics and indicators of drowning. In examining pictures of Jesse and the scene of the accident, they reported that there were no signs of lividity, blood pooling, or decomposition that would indicate that Jesse had been in the water over 24 hours. They also pointed out characteristics of Jesse’s rigor mortis and body that might indicate that Jesse did not die in the water. Other details of the scene of the accident were not consistent with a drowning. The tilt of his head was noted as an indicator that Jesse died on land and was later put in the creek. The degree of wrinkling on his hands and feet were not indicative of a person who had been in the water more than 12 hours. In fact, he said that the "washer woman" wrinkling effect on Jesse's hands were normal for just a few hours in the water. The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department has closed the case and ruled it as a "simple traffic fatality." However, we feel that there are too many unanswered questions and suspicions of foul play. I contacted Randolph County Sheriff’s Department in order to ask them for a copy of the report. I talked to a Capt. Derrick Hill. He told me, “Get over it, that it was a simple traffic accident.” He also made other hurtful and insensitive comments about Jesse’s death. I called Sheriff Maynard Reid in order to report this unacceptable behavior. He was extremely rude and told me that since I was not a citizen of Randolph County, he did not owe me anything. He then hung up on me. My husband, who is a former Chatham County Deputy Sheriff, called Capt. Hill the next morning. He denied speaking to me in that manner, but said that he could not release the report. He did send the missing person’s report, which was not what we had asked for. We have given the Randolph Co. detectives a list of names of people who checked the bridge and creek where they found Jesse. Each of these people reported that there was no car in the creek earlier in the week. We have also given the detectives a list of names of people who could possibly have more information about what happened to Jesse. These people have not been questioned. We do not understand why this police department is being so uncooperative. My ex-husband is a convicted felon and tried to kill Jesse twice before by shooting at him. He has family working at the Randolph Sheriff’s Dept. I can’t imagine why else we would be treated with such disrespect and lack of compassion. An acquaintance of my ex-husband came to my house twice in the past two months, stating that he was a witness to my ex-husband killing Jesse. He stated that after Jesse was killed, he was put in a freezer. They later removed Jesse from the freezer and placed him in his car, pushing it off the bridge. This bridge is less than a 1/4 of a mile from my ex-husband's house. Recordings of the witness's statement have been provided to both Chatham and Randolph County detectives. Also mentioned in the audio recording were statements about certain buildings in Chatham County that were burned down my ex-husband. The second time my ex-husband's acquaintance came to my house, he told me that he wanted to clear his conscience and make an official statement to the police. We called Det. Jeffrey Goins and asked him to come to my house. We waited for several hours. During this time, I did not allow him to drink any of the alcohol, which he had brought with him. When Det. Goins arrived, he explained his rights and asked permission to record his statement. I was asked to leave them during this session. Det. Goins stated that the statement was basically the same as earlier statements recorded. I talked to Randolph County District Attorney, Garland Yates on Friday, November 1st. I had been trying to reach him for several months. He told me that he had heard about my son's case, and quite frankly he didn't see enough evidence to warrant any further investigation. He felt that as far as he was concerned, Jesse drowned as a result of a car accident. When I tried to tell him about some of the suspicious details of his death which did not clearly indicate that he wrecked and drowned on the night he went missing, he told me that he didn't see anything suspicious. He even suggested that perhaps Jesse committed suicide, and I didn't want to accept that. He finally told me that he would look into it and get back to me, but not to expect to hear anything from him for a few weeks. I have contacted NCSBI agents who are aware of the circumstances of Jesse's case but are waiting to be invited by either RCSO or the DA to investigate Jesse's death. I also have an officer of the U.S. Marshall's Office who has reviewed the wreck report completed the NCSHP officer. He found several inconsistencies in the report and the narratives, along with missing pertinent information. We will be requesting a review of the wreck report. I have contacted the NC Medical Examiner's Office and requested a review of the autopsy. Because they were not told the circumstances of Jesse's death and background information, several tissue samples and tests were excluded from the autopsy procedure. Justice for Jesse Our family asks that you please look into the actions of the Randolph Co. Sheriff’s Dept. and investigate why they issued a "hush order" the night we found Jesse. They wouldn't even let me touch Jesse, telling me that he was part of a crime scene. I waited a month before I finally called them and was told that they closed the case, ruling in as a "simple car accident" which resulted in drowning. The accident report or autopsy reports were not even completed at this time. We also ask that you contact the appropriate officials who can call in the SBI to investigate Jesse's death, as we do not trust our local authorities to handle it properly or with integrity. We do not feel that we can find closure as long as there are so many unanswered questions. We need someone to please help us get the Randolph County DA or RC Sheriff Maynard Reid, ask the SBI to investigate my son’s death. If they are convinced that Jesse died as a result of a "simple car accident" then why will they not turn the investigation over to another agency?
Governor Pat McCrory and North Carolina General Assembly: Fund NCCAT
NCCAT's funding for the new budget has been completely removed. NCCAT’s mission is to keep high-quality teachers in the classroom, advancing teaching beyond that of a simple job to an art form and a profession. By renewing their love for teaching, and improving the quality and enthusiasm of the teachers themselves, NCCAT ultimately improves student engagement in learning and academic achievement.
Support North Carolina's HB 280: Get Children Out of the Adult Criminal Justice System
Sign the petition to support HB 280, the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act. When children end up in the adult criminal justice system, no one wins. Research shows that prosecuting youth charged with non-violent crimes in the adult criminal justice system wastes young lives, fosters crime, does not increase public safety, and costs society more in the long run. Youth charged with non-violent crimes should be handled in the juvenile justice system. Evidence shows that the juvenile system - with programs tailored to how children think and learn - is more effective at rehabilitating youth. Fewer then go on to commit another crime, which means lower costs to society and more children growing up to become educated, employed citizens. North Carolina remains one of only two states in the nation that still prosecutes all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, regardless of the severity of the crime. When youth end up in adult court, there is limited access to rehabilitative programming, mentoring, counseling, or even education. A bag of chips shouldn't cost a kid his future-- or taxpayers a lifetime of support. A North Carolina high school student was arrested and charged with larceny in 2011 for stealing a .69 cent bag of Doritos from the cafeteria. Yes, this kid made a mistake and deserves consequences. But in N.C., our outdated system of trying 16-and 17-year-olds who commit even minor crimes as adults means far more drastic and permanent consequences than almost anywhere in the country. By Raising the Age of juvenile jurisdiction to 18, we'll discipline our kids effectively and prevent them from becoming career criminals. Tell North Carolina's leaders that it's time to join the rest of the country. Tell them to throw out this nearly 100-year-old law and put 16- and 17-year-olds accused of non-violent crimes in the juvenile justice system, where they can be treated, rehabilitated, educated, counseled, and prepared for a successful life.
BRITNY'S LAW: NC Senate Bill 600- Make Domestic Violence Homicide a First Degree Offense
Britny Jordan Puryear was 22 years old when she was murdered by the father of her 5 month old son, on November 6, 2014. Britny was the sweetest person. She always put others first. In high school, she played soccer and softball. She was an A/B Honor Roll student. She was a great friend and teammate. She was a loving daughter, sister, and mother. On November 6, 2014, Britny was shot and killed by her boyfriend, the father of their baby. Britny was shot in the back of the head at point blank range with her 5 month old son nearby. Britny's murderer admitted to being the shooter and hiding the murder weapon. Witnesses came forward to testify about a past pattern of abuse, including being choked unconscious while pregnant and thrown down a flight of stairs while pregnant. The autopsy showed the murder was intentional and that there had been a past pattern of physical abuse. The District Attorneys Office told us that we had enough evidence to go to trial for first degree murder but that it would be very difficult to get a conviction for first degree due to the difficulty in proving "pre-meditation" in domestic violence cases. Most domestic violence murderers receive a sentence for second degree murder as it only takes one juror to consider it a "crime of passion" or an "argument gone wrong". Britny's murderer took a plea deal and was sentenced for second degree murder. Due to the difficulty in proving "pre-meditation", domestic violence murderers are receiving less time for killing their intimate partners instead of more time. Britny's Law would make getting a first degree conviction easier by proving a "past pattern of abuse" instead of "pre-meditation". Britny's Law has been introduced in the North Carolina Senate as Senate Bill 600 (S.B. 600). Britny's Law says "If there is a past pattern of domestic abuse, and you kill your intimate partner while committing domestic abuse, it is a first degree offense". Since Britny's death, there has been more than one domestic violence homicide per week in North Carolina alone. Please sign our petition for "Britny's Law" to make sure domestic abusers are held accountable for killing their intimate partners.
Dear Sen. Randleman, Thank you for stepping up in support of Camp Sertoma at Vade Mecum Springs! It is much appreciated. Steve Shelton, Danbury
Dear Sen. Randleman, Thank you for stepping up in support of Camp Sertoma at Vade Mecum Springs! It is much appreciated. Steve Shelton, Danbury