Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:
Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal on state must fix food stamp problem:
The federal government is losing its patience with North Carolina's administration of the food stamp program, and so should North Carolina's citizens.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which funds the food stamps, has given the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services until Feb. 10 to significantly reduce waiting lists for food stamp applicants or it will cut off the $88 million it gives the state to administer the program here.
The backlog in processing new applications began last summer. Despite repeated assurances from the DHHS that the problem was being fixed, the problem persists.
On Jan. 21, USDA said, 23,000 households were waiting for the applications to be processed, and 8,327 of those applications had been delayed longer than three months. Federal law requires applications to be processed within 30 days.
DHHS updated the U.S. numbers Thursday, saying there are several thousand fewer applicants waiting, but noting that nearly 9,000 of the applicant families are hardship cases. That means they have almost no money. Federal law requires processing of those applications within seven days.
Gov. Pat McCrory and his DHHS secretary, Aldona Wos, say they are doing all that is possible to fix the problem. They've been saying that for months, and it is inadequate.
People are hungry in this state; joblessness is still high. They are among the most desperate of our brothers and sisters. The least the state can do for them is to provide the benefits prescribed by federal law.
After a session in which Republican legislators and McCrory cut taxes for the wealthy, Republicans have denied that they care only about the affluent. But this is one case where the administration's inability to fix a problem that began on its watch -it can't blame this on a previous administration - belies that expression of concern.
It is time for the governor to get this problem be fixed. North Carolinians are hungry.
Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer on new trauma center advances brain-injury aid:
Traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress are the signature wounds of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Insurgents' extensive use of improvised explosive devices has made head trauma more common than ever.
Through it all, military medical facilities have struggled to improve their treatment for those injuries. They've made great progress, but are still finding new ways to coordinate treatment and put the needed resources in the right place.
Head trauma specialists and their patients at Fort Bragg will soon benefit from more of that cooperation, thanks to the efforts of a nonprofit group.
It's an important development. So much so that Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commander of Fort Bragg and the 18th Airborne Corps, delayed his deployment to Afghanistan for a few days to take part in the groundbreaking Friday for the Fort Bragg Intrepid Spirit Center.
The center will be the fourth of its kind in the nation. Funded by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes fund, the $11 million building will serve at least 1,000 soldiers a year, drawing on the research of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Our warriors make enormous sacrifices for our nation. It's good to see donors eager to repay the great debt we owe them
Charlotte Observer on Gov. McCrory, and not appealing abortion ruling:
Gov. Pat McCrory has it right. North Carolina should not appeal a federal judge's ruling striking down the state's requirement that women seeking abortions be shown a narrated ultrasound before the procedure. U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles was spot on in asserting that the law, which mandated that physicians performing the abortions show women ultrasound images and describe them in detail before the procedure - even if the women objected - is impermissible.
Said Eagles earlier this month: "The Supreme Court has never held that a state has the power to compel a health care provider to speak, in his or her own voice, the state's ideological message in favor of carrying a pregnancy to term and this court declines to do so today."
It's not that McCrory necessarily agrees with Eagles. He cites more practical considerations: "After extensive review, I do not believe costly and drawn out litigation should be continued concerning only one provision that was not upheld by the court," he said in a written statement Saturday. The law has other requirements, including a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and that women be given extensive information about birth, child care and alternatives to abortion.
Sadly, leaders in the Republican-controlled N.C. legislature came out Monday staunchly in support of an appeal. Said House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger in a joint statement: "We believe the provision struck down by an Obama-appointed federal judge is the most critical piece of the law. We expect the Attorney General to quickly move forward with an appeal of this provision... We remain confident that the state will prevail on the merits of the case through an appeal."
Yet, just two months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand an Oklahoma high court ruling striking down a similar statute. The Oklahoma Supreme Court had ruled in 2012 that the state's ultrasound law relating to abortion was an undue burden on a woman's rights.
The same is true in this state. The N.C. law is an inappropriate and dangerous intrusion into the relationship between women and their physicians. Its goal is to shame women and attempt to manipulate them into foregoing the procedure. It is also, as Judge Eagles rightly notes, an attempt to foist on women a state-sponsored ideological message. That's wrong.
It is a clear burden on N.C. doctors. The lawsuit, by the way, was brought on behalf of several of them and their patients.
The law allows patients to look away or bar their ears. But doctors can't opt out. They are required to deliver the state's scripted message. That's an abridgment of their free-speech rights as well as needless interference with their relationships with their patients.
McCrory got an earful this summer about the state's intrusion into this personal and private matter when he signed into law a bill that severely limits women's access to clinics where abortions are performed. Hundreds protested in Raleigh, blasting McCrory for reneging on a campaign pledge not to support any new abortion restrictions.
Some observers say his opposition to appealing Eagles' ruling might be his way of atoning for that. He's right, regardless.
Lawmakers haven't tended to listen to McCrory a lot. But they should on this. Continuing to defend this bad legislation is wrong and a waste of taxpayer dollars.