UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR SOME NC WORKERS ARE DELAYED: Taylor said he couldn’t yet promise lawmakers exactly when the state might be in a position to start approving people for those PUA benefits, but “I’d really like it up and running in two weeks.” The reason for the wait and the uncertainty, Taylor said, is the “tremendous amount” of paperwork needed to verify that self-employed people applying for unemployment are telling the truth about their job losses, their incomes, or even that their businesses are legitimate. And although Congress approved the PUA benefits two weeks ago, the federal government didn’t publish the actual rules for the program until Sunday. Taylor said state unemployment officials spent Monday trying to figure out all the numerous rules and requirements, and will next try to figure out how to best put the new system into place. Politico reported Monday that those rules have raised the ire of some Democratic politicians and groups for excluding too many people.
SEANC WANTS HAZARD PAY FOR STATE EMPLOYEES EXPOSED TO VIRUS: The state employees association has asked Gov. Roy Cooper and state legislative leaders to pay state workers at prisons and in other essential jobs hazard pay because of the coronavirus. The State Employees Association of North Carolina said employees "in essential jobs where social distancing is impossible or impractical" should get time-and-a-half throughout the state of emergency called over COVID-19. The letter, from SEANC Executive Director Ardis Watkins, went out Saturday to Cooper as well as to House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, the association said. SEANC posted it to its website Tuesday. Cooper's press office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening. The letter asked Cooper to use his authority to implement the increase for, "at a minimum, workers within the walls of our state prisons, workers at state mental health and drug treatment facilities, parole and probation officers, the State Highway Patrol and workers in the unemployment section of the Employment Security Commission."
NC'S JAILS AND PRISONS COME UNDER SCRUTINY OVER COVID 19 VULNERABILITY: Forty inmates and a worker at a federal medium security prison in Butner, north of Raleigh, have tested positive, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, making it among the largest current clusters in the system. Fifteen inmates also have tested positive at a low-security federal prison nearby, the bureau said. State prisons on Tuesday began a two-week moratorium on accepting offenders from county jails and dramatic reductions in transfer between prisons. Cases have turned up at three state prisons so far. Disability Rights North Carolina urged on Tuesday county sheriffs and local district attorneys to reduce inmate populations in jails, saying too many are already overcrowded. The group said many of those jailed simply can't pay their bonds or are serving time for non-violent misdemeanors. "As the virus spreads and staff levels drop due to disease or quarantine, the perilous conditions that overcrowding causes will only get worse,” group CEO Virginia Knowlton Marcus said in a news release.
ACTING NAVY SECRETARY RESIGNS AFTER CALLING CAPTAIN CROZIER "STUPID" IN FRONT OF SAILORS: Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly has submitted a letter of resignation to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. That’s according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the matter before an official announcement. The official says Modly has also told staff he is quitting. Modly had created a combustible controversy by firing the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt last week, saying Capt. Brett E. Crozier had shown “extremely poor judgment” in widely distributing by email a letter calling for urgent help with the COVID-19 outbreak aboard his ship. Modly then flew to the ship, at port in Guam, and delivered a speech to the crew in which he lambasted Crozier, saying he was either “too naive or too stupid” to be in charge of an aircraft carrier. On Monday night, at Esper’s insistence, Modly issued a public apology, but by then the calls among Democrats in Congress for his resignation were mounting.
REPUBLICANS FORCE VOTERS TO THE POLLS IN WISCONSIN DURING PANDEMIC: The snaking lines in Milwaukee and other cities illustrated the fallout from the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s controversial order to proceed with Tuesday’s elections over the objections of the governor and public health officials — and showed the determination of many voters to participate despite the pandemic. The nearly unprecedented challenge for election officials hit hardest in Milwaukee, which opened five voting locations out of the typical 180 because of worker shortages, and Green Bay, which offered only two polling locations instead of the usual 31 and had waits of two to three hours. Confusion and partisan rancor reigned across the state after a series of fast-moving events Monday, when Gov. Tony Evers (D) tried to suspend in-person voting but was defeated in court by the GOP-controlled legislature. Republicans argued that canceling elections would sow chaos, while Democrats accused them of trying to suppress voter turnout to help a conservative incumbent on the state Supreme Court. The hotly contested Supreme Court race, between conservative justice Daniel Kelly and liberal candidate Jill Karofsky, attracted the most attention among the day’s contenders — including a tweet from President Trump. “Wisconsin, get out and vote NOW for Justice Daniel Kelly,” the president wrote. “Protect your 2nd Amendment!” At the daily White House coronavirus briefing, Trump was asked who should be held responsible if Wisconsinites become ill after standing in long lines to vote. “Look, all I did was endorse a candidate,” Trump said. “I don’t know anything about their lines. I don’t know anything about their voting.”