Legislators in both the House and the Senate had a busy week as they try to begin wrapping up their biggest legislation to prepare for the end of session. The House took up hours of amendments and debate on their budget all week. The Senate addressed the House’s tax reform plan, capital punishment and firearms. Additionally, the Governor signed 39 bills into law this week including SB 208 Effective Operation of 1915 (B)/(C) Waiver. Find out what other bills he signed through a press release on his website.
Relevant bills with action
SB 306Capital Punishment/Amendments: This bill eliminates the racial justice act and would allow executions on death row to resume. The bill passed the Senate and will be presented to the Governor.
SB 542Drug Testing For LTC Applicants & Employees: This bill allows for drug testing of Long Term Care facility applicants and employees. The bill passed the Senate and will be presented to the Governor.
SB 594Require Drug Testing/Work First Benefits: This bill requires applicants for Work First Benefits to undergo drug testing that the applicant would pay for up front. If the applicant passes the test, they will be reimbursed through their benefits. If they fail the test, they have to undergo substance abuse treatment and wait a year before applying again. The bill was heard in committee this week for discussion only. This bill was included in the Senate budget but not the House.
SB 663Blue Ribbon Comm. Recs./Supportive MH Housing: This bill requires DHHS to establish and appropriate money for a supportive housing program for individuals transitioning from institutional settings to community-based settings. It also requires the establishment of a community living housing fund within the Housing Finance Agency to integrate individuals with disabilities into community-based supported housing. These are recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission. The bill passed out of committee and will be heard on the Senate floor Monday night.
HB 533Detention of Mentally Ill in Facility: This bill allows for police officers in certain counties to use appropriate force to keep a respondent at a facility while obtaining an examination by a physician or psychologist as court ordered. The bill passed out of committee and will most likely go to the floor.
HB 543 Guardianship Roles of MHDDSA Providers: This legislation addresses permissible guardianship roles for corporations and individuals that provide MH/DD/SA services. The bill passed out of committee.
HB 725 Young Offenders Rehabilitation Act: This bill raises the juvenile age from 16 to 18 for misdemeanors. The plan will be integrated in phases by age (16, 16.5, 17, 17.5) over six month increments. The bill passed Judiciary A and was referred to Appropriations.
HB 937Amend Various Firearms Laws: This legislation changes several firearm laws including requiring clerks of court to report mental health findings to a national database and allows for concealed carry permit holders to carry inside restaurants/bars unless otherwise noted and at parks. The bill passed the Senate and will be sent back to the House for concurrence.
HB 998 Tax Simplification and Reduction Act: This legislation eliminates corporate income tax by 2017, changes the flat income tax of 5.25% by 2015, reduces the sales tax cap for nonprofits over time, and repeals local sales tax on food (counties can decided to reimpose this). The bill passed the Senate on it’s second reading and will be voted on again on Tuesday for a final vote. The NC Justice Center‘s Budget and Tax Center did a thorough analysis on this latest proposed bill.
House Budget The House’s final budget proposal can be found here. Few amendments were made to Health and Human Services last week. Most likely, House and Senate Appropriation chairs will be appointed to merge the budgets into one final budget. These chairs are: Representatives Dollar, Burr, Holloway and Johnson and Senators Brown, Brunstetter and Hunt. We may see a final budget as early as next week.