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News State / Region

Recently it was announced that the debt North Carolina owed to the federal government to pay unemployment benefits had dropped from nearly $2.6 billion to $980 million. Now, the Division of Employment Security says they are hoping to pay that debt off early, perhaps as soon as August 2015. Initially it was estimated the debt would be paid off by November 2015.

“The quicker this debt is paid off, the quicker we can lower the taxes and level the playing field for North Carolina employers,” said Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary of Employment Security Dale Folwell.

Since 2011, North Carolina has had to pay interest on this debt. With a projected interest payment of $37 million on September 30 of this year, North Carolina’s employers will have paid nearly $262 million in interest payments alone over the past four years.


Thousands of North Carolina students were sent to reading camps in July as part of the state’s 2012 Read To Achieve program. State legislature has required that by third grade, if a student was not shown to be reading proficient, the student would be mandated to attend summer reading camps, or be held back.

Based on the law, the requirement that thirdgrade students show proficiency in reading, or qualify for a “good cause exemption,” to get promoted went into effect the 2013-14 school year. For Franklin area elementary schools, 16 students were required to attend the summer camps, of which about 14 have attended. Although 16 children were required by law to attend the camp, Macon County leaders opened the camp to children in second and third grades who were identified as needing some extra support to become better readers, bringing the total number of students in the camp to 37.


On July 2, the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC), a statewide nonprofit dedicated to reducing drug overdose deaths, received a report of its 100th drug overdose reversal using the opioid antagonist, naloxone.

Since Aug. 1, 2013, NCHRC has distributed more than 2,648 overdose prevention kits containing naloxone and administration supplies to people at risk for drug overdose and their loved ones. Naloxone is a medication that reverses overdose from opioids such as heroin, methadone and prescription painkillers. Opioids are responsible for the majority of deaths from drug overdose in North Carolina each year.

Thanks to a new law passed in April 2013, the 911 Good Samaritan/Naloxone Access law, naloxone can now be distributed to the general public via standing orders from a medical provider. People at the scene of an overdose can use the kit to save the life of a friend or family member. Many law enforcement and fire departments are also looking into launching programs to equip first responders with naloxone. Deputies of the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office began carrying naloxone in May 2014.


Households in America seem to be paying out more and more each year. Consumers in N.C. have seen their own bills go up or at least threatened to be increased. Over the last two years, power bills have increased, as the N.C. insurance commissioner is currently battling to keep home insurance rates from increasing and hopefully, auto insurance rates as well despite the industry's best efforts to do away with a state mandated cap. And, if you drive a hybrid or electric vehicle, that's a new tax, too. If that's not enough, the United States Congress has been presented with a proposal to increase the federal gasoline tax by 12 cents.

A federal gas tax was first enacted in the U.S. on June 6, 1932, as part of the Revenue Act of 1932 under President Herbert Hoover. The result was a 1 cent per gallon tax.


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