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Wake senator leaves session to get coronavirus test :: WRAL.com

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— Sen. Sam Searcy, D-Wake, left the state’s waning legislative session Thursday afternoon to get a coronavirus test.

The freshman senator said he received word at about 1:45 p.m. that a worker in his office building – not the General Assembly, but for his regular job – tested positive for the virus.

“Out of an abundance of caution, I will be submitting an excused absence from voting for the rest of today, and I’ll be going to get tested,” Searcy tweeted. “Stay safe, wear masks!”

Pope named to UNC BOG

The Senate named businessman Art Pope, a former House member and one of the state’s biggest conservative donors, to the UNC Board of Governors on Thursday.

There was no debate on the Senate floor, despite Pope’s status as the self-described “boogeyman” of North Carolina’s political left.

The vote was 32-15. All the no votes came from Democrats, but four Senate Democrats voted for Pope’s election, including Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue.

Pope will fill the year or so left on former state Sen. Bob Rucho’s term on the board, which sets policy for the state university system. Rucho resigned late last week.

Pope said Thursday that he might serve longer if asked but that he would reassess after a year.

Some Democrats bashed the pick on social media when it was announced Wednesday night, but they held their tongues on the Senate floor. In an interview, Pope, who owns a chain of discount stores, acknowledged the work he’s done to elect Republicans in North Carolina but said he’s gotten an outsized reputation and that he can and will work across the political aisle.

“I was made a boogeyman back in 2009, 2010, and it’s kind of lasted on since then,” he said. “I think I hopefully can smooth things down and reach out to the other side, which is the real Art Pope, versus the left-wing-blog character.”

Freedom Park funded

Lawmakers approved $1.5 million for a new statue park in downtown Raleigh honoring African-American contributions.

This is the long-discussed “Freedom Park” project. The park was funded in last year’s state budget, but the governor vetoed that budget as part of a much broader fight with General Assembly Republicans.

The funding was paired in recent weeks with another $2.5 million to add statues honoring African-Americans in North Carolina on Capitol Qquare and to add new signs providing context for Confederate monuments there. That plan was laid aside after protesters tore down some Confederate statues on the square and the governor had others removed.

The $1.5 million was then added to a longer bill that also funds major building projects at the University of North Carolina at Chapl Hill, which gets funding for a business school and nursing school renovations, North Carolina State University, which gets funding for a STEM building, and Fayetteville State University, which would have a dormitory demolished.

The measure, Senate Bill 212, also creates a new grant program for satellite broadband providers. It cleared the Senate unanimously and the House 101-4.

$500 million in coronavirus funding passed

The House and the Senate agreed Thursday on another coronavirus bill, allocating $500 million in federal dollars.

House Bill 1023 includes another $150 million for local governments. It also reworks some of the funding lawmakers approved during an April session. Among other things, a $5 million public relations effort for socially distanced tourism in North Carolina was boosted to $15 million.

The measure also includes $3.5 million for a nonprofit in Greenville, which will run a GPS monitoring project tracking people accused of domestic violence.

Medicaid transformation penalties dropped

A compromise bill to boost Medicaid spending by more than $460 million is headed to the governor, and while it keeps a new deadline in place for the state’s long-discussed Medicaid transformation project, multimillion-dollar penalties that the state once would have faced for missing that deadline were dropped from the bill.

Senate Bill 808 funds the Medicaid re-base – the annual refiguring of what the taxpayer-funded health insurance program for children, the disabled and elderly people should cost. The bill also includes $100 million in new funding to expand coronavirus testing and contact tracing in North Carolina and $15 million for the state Department of Health and Human Services to relocate its headquarters from the Dorothea Dix campus to a new location inside Wake County.

The bill sets a July 2021 start date for transformation, the quasi-privatization of Medicaid management that the state has discussed for years. The changeover was delayed last year as part of a broader budget fight between Gov. Roy Cooper and the General Assembly’s Republican majority.

This bill once included $4 million penalties, due to each of the five contractors set to take a larger role in running the state’s Medicaid program if the state didn’t hit its deadline, but that language was dropped from the final bill.

The bill cleared the Senate unanimously and the House 111-2.

Debt bill left undone

Lawmakers wrapped up their work early Friday without cracking down on debt settlement companies, leaving unfinished a bill that essentially would have shut down the industry in North Carolina.

House Bill 1067 targets practices that are already illegal, but settlement companies operate through a loophole, bill supporters said, targeting people with high debt and bad credit with bait-and-switch tactics and high-fee loans.

The measure cleared the House easily but didn’t make it to the Senate floor. Senate leaders said they hoped bill supporters would work out a compromise with the industry, which hired nearly a dozen lobbyists to make their case in North Carolina.

Those negotiations broke down earlier this week.

Bill supporters said the legislation was particularly important now, with many people out of work and facing financial crisis.

Hospital visit guarantee fizzles

Lawmakers also wrapped things up Friday without passing legislation to guarantee hospital patients the right to have at least one visitor.

Senate Bill 730 failed despite a late addition of $100 million to fund a new grant program for small businesses struggling because of coronavirus shutdowns. The bill also had $10 million in it for virus tracing through the Policy Collaboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Senate had pressed for legislation that would have rolled back visitation restrictions at hospitals. The House wouldn’t go along, siding with hospitals across the state and proposing language Senate negotiators found too weak.

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Letter: Vote for Kiesha Preston | Letters

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The residents of Roanoke, Virginia, need to get out of the box of voting based on party affiliation. It’s time to vote for the best candidate to do the job.

Kiesha Preston is running as an independent and is the best choice for Roanoke City Council. When she was only three years old, she was troubled because a local Kroger store removed the kiddie carts. She asked me how to get them back so she could shop beside me. I told her to go to the manager and she did. She stated her case, and a few weeks later those kiddie carts were back in the store.

Kiesha also has presented a bill to Congress that was approved. The Virginia Domestic Violence Victims Protection Act prevents domestic violence victims from not being able to rent an apartment because of bad credit as a result of their abuser ruining their credit.

These are but two examples of Kiesha’s tenacity and getting results. We need people on council who have no agenda and are truly willing to work for the least of us.

Kiesha is not intimidated by those in power and will hold her own to help those who cannot help themselves. This is why she is the right person to get the job done.

Please do not be discouraged because you are tired of the same old same old where parties are concerned. You have another choice so please vote for Kiesha Preston. She has been working tirelessly on behalf of the people without being elected to an official office. Just imagine what she can do once she is officially on City Council.

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This One Credit Card Will Get You the Most Cash Back Right Now

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Let’s admit it, choosing the right credit card can be a stressful process. There are so many variables to consider—from annuals fees to credit score requirement—not to mention the various rewards and benefits each card offers, and how those align with your lifestyle and spending habits. Then there are those hidden fees and interest rates you have to reckon with. In other words, it takes a lot of work to make a truly informed decision when it comes to choosing a credit card that’s right for you. Perhaps a good cash back program is high on your credit card priority list because, well, who doesn’t like some extra money in their pocket?

To help you decide on the credit card that is going to get you the most cash back, the experts at personal finance site WalletHub compared more than 1,500 current credit card offers. From that large pool, they narrowed down the field to the cards that offer cash back rewards, comparing those offers based on initial bonuses, rewards earnings rates, annual fees, and more. From that analysis, here are the best credit cards that will get you the most cash back right now. And for more money matters, check out This Is the State Where Your Money Is Worth the Least.

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Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card

Best for: Cash back on all purchases

Cash-back rate: 2.5 percent

Annual fee: $0.00 for the first year; $99.00 after that

What kind of credit you need to get one: Excellent

Learn more about the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature credit card here.

If you are worried about having buyer’s remorse after choosing a credit card, put that into perspective by checking out What You’re More Likely to Regret Than Anything Else You Do.

7

Discover It

Best for: People with bad credit

Cash-back rate: 1-2 percent

Annual fee: $0.00

What kind of credit you need to get one: Bad

Learn more about the Discover It credit card here.

6

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

Best for: Cash bonus for good credit ($200.00)

Cash-back rate: 1-5 percent

Annual fee: $0.00

What kind of credit you need to get one: Good

Learn more about the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card here.

And to make sure you have money to pay off those monthly bills, avoid The Biggest Career Mistake You’ll Ever Make, According to Experts.

5

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Best for: No APR on purchases

Cash-back rate: 1.5-5 percent

Annual fee: $0.00

What kind of credit you need to get one: Good

Learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card here.

And for more things that will help you and your family stay on the right financial track, check out The No. 1 Sign You Shouldn’t Buy That House, According to Realtors.

4

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best for: People with limited-to-fair credit and looking for low annual fee

Cash-back rate: 1.5 percent

Annual fee: $39.00

What kind of credit you need to get one: Fair

Learn more about Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card here.

3

Citi Double Cash Card—18 month BT offer

Best for: Flat-rate rewards

Cash-back rate: 2 percent

Annual fee: $0.00

What kind of credit you need to get one: Excellent

Learn more about the Citi Double Cash Card here.

2

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best for: Dining and entertainment

Cash-back rate: 1-4 percent

Annual fee: $95.00

What kind of credit you need to get one: Good

Learn more about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card here.

1

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Best for: Most cash back overall

Cash-back rate: 1-6 percent

Annual fee: $0.00 for the first year; $95.00 after that

What kind of credit you need to get one: Good

Learn more about Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express here.

And for more helpful information delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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Possible Raises Series B and Moves Fully Remote | State

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SEATLLE, Oct. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Possible raises $11 million in new equity funding to expand the team and to provide additional products for its customers. Union Square Ventures led the round, with participation from existing investors Canvas Ventures, Unlock Venture Partners, Columbia Pacific Advisors, Union Bay Partners, Tom Williams, and FJ Labs. The company has also secured $80 million in new debt financing from Park Cities Advisors.

Furthermore, the company is now fully remote and recently onboarded software engineers from across the US and the globe. Possible is committed to distributed work and actively recruiting for a number of other remote roles.

Possible provides friendly access to capital and a simple way to build credit for people who otherwise would get a payday loan or get hit with a bank overdraft fee. The company uses real-time financial data, rather than a credit score, to qualify customers and provide funds instantly through its iTunes and Android apps. Unlike payday loans or overdraft fees, Possible loans are paid back in small installments over multiple pay periods to allow customers to catch their breath. By reporting on-time payments to the credit bureaus, Possible enables its customers to build credit history and eventually qualify for cheaper, longer term financial products. On average, customers with low credit scores see their scores increase by 70 points within 4 months.

Tony Huang, Possible’s CEO explains, “So many people who live paycheck to paycheck can’t afford to build credit history. We’re helping them do it for the first time while providing them with a friendlier and more affordable small-dollar loan.”

Since launching in June 2018, Possible’s given out loans to hundreds of thousands of customers, helping meet short-term cash needs while building credit history or establishing credit for the first time. These customers, often with bad credit or no credit history, are underserved by traditional banks. Possible fills that gap and provides financial access to those who need it most while giving them the means to climb their way out.

Gillian Munson, Partner at Union Square Ventures, explains the thesis behind their new investment, “Through tech innovation, data-driven insights, and a focus on the customer, Possible is well on its way to winning the hearts and minds of both consumers and regulators alike, and building a trusted brand that endures.”

A 2019 Experian study shows 34.8% of consumers are subprime and can’t access money when they need it. They pay $106 billion in punitive fees each year to the existing financial system for short-term credit products. These consumers are trapped in predatory debt cycles of payday loans and overdraft fees without the means to rebuild their credit or improve their financial health. While there has been a number of new tech-enabled products in this space, most lead to similar debt cycles and don’t address the harder issue of improving long-term financial health. That’s where Possible comes in.

Since the company is now fully remote, Possible is actively hiring talent across the globe. Tyler, Possible’s CTO, explains, “Being fully distributed allows us to access the talent pool of the entire world. Our success so far is a reflection of the quality of our people, and we believe hiring globally will allow us to find exceptional people to join us in achieving our mission.”

About Possible

Possible is a fintech company based in Seattle, Washington. The company provides a friendlier and easier way for customers to access capital while also building credit history and improving long-term financial health.

About Union Square Ventures

Union Square Ventures is a thesis-driven venture capital firm based in New York City. USV manages over $1 billion in capital across seven funds and focuses investments in portfolio companies with the potential to transform important markets.

About Park Cities Advisors LLC

Park Cities Advisors LLC (“PCA”) is a privately held, SEC-registered alternative credit manager based in Dallas, Texas. PCA is focused on private lending across the specialty finance and FinTech sectors and provides debt capital to companies across a variety of industries through asset-based financing transactions.

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