I strongly oppose HB370 and was honored to work with fellow Buncombe County Commissioners Newman, Whitesides, and Edwards to send letters to Governor Cooper to support his pledged veto and to NCGA leadership urging them to oppose HB370. You can read the letters here.
This is a critical time to stand with immigrant communities at the local, state and federal level. HB370 is a dangerous bill that targets the immigrant community, violates due process, and undermines NC sheriffs' ability to set local policy regarding compliance with ICE detainers. Versions have passed both chambers of the legislature and it is currently at the House Committee on Rules.
This unconstitutional bill has particular implications in Buncombe County because Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller has established a local policy that our Sheriff's Office will not comply with ICE detainers. Here's what you can do to oppose HB370:
1) Please contact state elected officials and urge them to oppose HB370;
2) Please support the work of local organizations like CIMA that are on the front lines of opposing HB370 and supporting immigrant communities.
Since being elected in 2016, my top policy priority has been working on early childhood education and development issues - how we can make Buncombe County a place where every child has an equal opportunity to thrive.
I'm so excited that the county's new Early Childhood Education and Development Fund officially launched on July 1, 2019, ushering in a permanent commitment to the youngest children in our community. With this fund, the county has committed $3.6 million annually in county funding to support the county's priority of ensuring that every child has an opportunity thrive in their first 2,000 days, including expanding access to quality early childhood education. I'm grateful to serve on a County Commission that places prioritizes early childhood issues: the Fund was approved by a 6-1 vote and there is strong engagement on these issues across the Commission.
You can read more about this work on the county website and in media coverage. And you can read the full listing of projects receiving funding for FY 2020 here. It's an incredible line of projects.
All this really sunk in for me last week when the county hosted grantees for an orientation. In that packed room, people who are on the frontlines of educating and caring for our children shared stories about what this new funding will mean - new classrooms opening to serve more children, increasing teacher and staff pay to a living wage, being able to respond to the needs of children impacted by trauma. It was pretty emotional and pretty inspiring.
As part of this process, we also launched a 15-member Early Childhood Education and Development Committee, comprised of 3 County Commissioners - myself, Commissioners Pressley and Whitesides - and 12 community members who bring rich and diverse leadership and lived experience to this body. The work of this committee, which included reviewing grant applications totaling $7.8 million dollars and bringing funding recommendations to the Board of Commissioners, has been supported by county staff who have worked hard to ensure that accessibility and transparency are key features of the start up of this fund.
Everywhere I go, I talk about the experiences of children in Buncombe County and part of what motivates me is hearing how passionate people are about this issue. That local engagement tracks with what polling data from across the state tell us, which is that a commanding majority of people, across the political spectrum, support public funding for early childhood education.
I'll keep sharing updates here and invite you to follow along as this work keeps growing.