The county commission’s new Republican majority put some major changes into effect during its first meeting on Monday, prompting calls of partisanship and too much government control.
After commissioner-elect Phil Matthews (R) was sworn in and Paul Coble (R) appointed chair, the board removed elective abortion from county employees’ health care plans, moved to oppose collective bargaining, and to support eliminating the cap on charter schools.
Since 1994, Wake County employees have been able to receive elective abortions as part of their health care plan. The previous Board of Commissioners approved a health care plan which provided for elective abortion earlier this year. However, Tony Gurley (R) has always maintained that paying for abortions with tax payer money goes against state law and the 1981 finding in the case of Stan versus North Carolina.
Others like Melissa Reed of Planned Parenthood, who was one of several to speak during the public comment period, disagree. “Stan versus NC makes it clear that it is perfectly legal to offer [elective abortion] care to your employees,” said Reed. “You are inserting big government into our most personal issues,” she went on to say.
The new plan, which Republicans passed in a 4-3 vote, will continue to provide abortions for county employees if the health of the mother is endangered by the pregnancy and in cases of rape or incest.
Echoing the concerns of opponents to the amendment, James West (D) said, “This board is getting involved in things that that government shouldn’t be involved in.”
In September the Board of Commissioners approved a set of four statewide legislative goals. At Monday’s meeting Republicans suggested adding two new goals: opposing collective bargaining, or third party/union bargaining for public employees, and removing the cap on charter schools in NC, which currently sits at 100. Both measures passed.
Commissioner Betty Lou Ward (D) said that Republican majority’s actions during its first meeting, which also included rescinding a resolution condemning the neighborhood schools plan as an act of re-segregation, “don’t speak of good leadership skills, but politics.”