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Moral Monday Leaders Looking To Spend 2014 Advocating For The Uninsured

Photo: The Rev. William Barber outside the North Carolina State Capitol building.
Jorge Valencia

A judge gave permission Monday to a group that’s been protesting new North Carolina laws to rally on the grounds of the state Capitol building.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour’s decision reversed denial of a permit  earlier this month.  It served as a preamble for the new year of protests, that have become known as Moral Monday, against the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Just hours after the decision, the Rev. William Barber, one of the key Moral Monday organizers, spoke to dozens of people on a courtyard outside the Capitol, mapping out 2014.

The group plans to scrutinize Gov. Pat McCrory’s decision to not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (referred to by some as Obamacare) by consulting with attorneys and looking for people who may have been affected.  An estimated 500,000 people in the state would have become eligible to receive government-paid care under an expansion.

“We will have the best legal minds, and the best historical scholars, and the best sociologists to come together and examine what is the legal penalty if you engage in public policy and you know in advance that people will die because of your actions,” Barber told the crowd. “That's a legal question that ought to be studied.”

Participants in the Moral Monday movement have criticized bills passed by the GOP-led General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory. The focal point has been a law that required voters to show state-issued identification in order to vote, eliminated same-day registration and shortened early voting by a week.

The state Department of Administration rejected a permit application earlier this month to congregate outside the Capitol building. Meetings have been held on Halifax Mall behind the State Legislative Building.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Gov. McCrory’s office said the state is fortunate it did not expand Medicaid and that Moral Monday organizers have been advocating for policies that put people out of work.

“Governor McCrory is working to strengthen the economy so more North Carolinians can earn a paycheck instead of hoping for a government check,” spokesman Rick Martinez said. “If you disagree with that concept, then you are going to disagree with most of the entrepreneurial innovations Governor McCrory has and will continue to implement to get more North Carolinians back to work.”

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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