Thursday, June 26, 2008

Trouble in paradise?

So, word was that lawmakers were on a roll and planned to have a budget done in time to light off fireworks for the 4th of July (ones that don't leave the ground or are in general interesting of course unless you're at a professional show).

Anywho, at the end of the House session Rep. Mickey Michaux told his colleagues some some road blocks had come up and was dogging the Senate a little bit. While it was clear there was hope that lawmakers would get a glimpse of a budget on Monday, Rep. Michaux said today he would bring them a budget "soon".

Looks like the honorables will have a long weekend-at least the ones on the conference committee.

On top of that Easley's right hand man, Dan Gerlach, delivered more bad news that revenues are going to be $70 million less than expected. Ooops..better order in some pizzas!

In the meantime I did an update to a story today that the N&O actually broke in February. It is below..

RALEIGH -- Lawmakers say they are about to right a wrong when it comes to rape victims in this state.

Earlier this year, it was discovered that a large majority of rape victims were forced to pay for their own rape kits at hospitals. It was also hitting hospitals in their pocketbook.

When lawmakers realized earlier this year that rape victims were forced to pay for rape kits many of them were shocked.

"We had no idea here in the General Assembly that victims of sexual assault, rape, we're having to pay for their own evidence gathering," Sen. Alice Bordsen (D-Alamance) said.

About 3000 people are examined each year for rape in emergency rooms across the state. The test and exam can cost as much as $1600.

"We need to make sure rape victims are not billed for the collection of forensic evidence just like the victim of any other crime doesn't have to pay for the collection of evidence," Rep. Bordsen added.

Months later, lawmakers appear to have a resolution. The Senate and House both have funding in their budget proposals to pick up the tab whether or not a victim has insurance. It not only prevents rape victims from paying but hospitals as well.

The Hospital Association did not want to talk on camera but a spokesperson did say they are optimistic will come up with a plan that will benefit everyone.

While the money will pay for the collection of evidence it will not pay for everything.

"Any other expenses such as mental health services, medical services, replacement of clothing, we have the victims assistance fund and they can draw from that for those types of needs," Rep. Bordsen said.

It's not a done deal yet with budget negotiations ongoing-however supporters are highly optimistic it will end up in the final spending plan.

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