Your source for the social work profession in North Carolina.
What a week! With the budget released on Sunday night, legislators scrambled this week to complete the 2013 legislative session that started in January. Legislators worked well into the night Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and early Friday morning. With the most controversial bills left on the calendar, legislators fought along party lines and among party members. A list of session bills that passed will be sent out next week. The Governor has 30 days to sign or veto bills that came to him this week. If not, they become law without his signature.
Relevant bills with action
SB 353 Health and Safety Law Changes: This legislation was put on the Senate calendar on the last day of session. With such strict changes to women’s health care clinics, only one abortion clinic in the state meets the standards listed in the bill. Besides changing clinic standards, the bill prohibits abortion coverage on the state health plan exchange, prohibits cities and counties from covering abortions under the health plans they offer their employees, and prohibits sex selective abortions. The bill passed the House and Senate and was sent to the Governor.
SB 553 LME/MCO Enrollee Grievances and Appeals: This bill establishes a grievances and appeals process for LME/MCOs. Among the rules, no punitive action shall be taken against providers that wish to file an appeal on behalf of an enrollee. The bill passed the House and Senate with little to no opposition and was sent to the Governor.
SB 683 Safe Harbor/Victims of Human Trafficking: This bill updates our prostitution laws in NC and truly is a safe harbor for victims of human trafficking. The bill increases penalties for sex traffickers as well as purchasers. It allows deferred prosecutions and motions for victims as well as expunged records of a criminal past. The first change of this kind, we are thrilled this legislation passed. It will mean great things for the women and children social workers serve that are impacted by human trafficking. This legislation passed the House and Senate and was sent to the Governor.
HB 74 Regulatory Reform Act of 2013: This bill includes two provisions that apply to social workers. One is a records retention policy update for Medicaid. If a service has been discontinued by the state, the provider must retain records for three years from the last date of service unless a longer period is required by Federal law. Secondly, the bill looks to study the merger of occupational licensing boards by the Program Evaluation Oversight Committee.
HB 112 Modifications/2013 Appropriations Act: This legislation makes a few tweaks to the budget including the 12% cut to ADATCs. This cut originally was divided among the centers. This legislation modifies that a 12% cut has to be made but does not dictate which centers have to cut how much. Another major change involves prior authorization. NASW-NC was opposed to prior authorization and advocated against this proposed measure. We were able to bring down the authorization of ALL mental health drugs to just ADHD and ADD for juveniles.
HB 392 Warrant Status/Drug Screen Public Assist.: After having been changed several times to comply with Federal law, this bill requires DSS to drug test individuals that they reasonably suspect to be using drugs. The test is still paid for by the individual and reimbursed through benefits. The Social Services Commission will adopt implementation rules. It also expands background checks on applicants as DSS searches for fleeing felons or probation or parole violators. DSS does not have to allocate funds to pay for finger printing but would have to if requested. The bill passed and was sent to the Governor. In a press conference following session, the Governor stated that he does not support this as his office has major concerns with possible legal issues.
HB 589 VIVA/Election Reform: What is quite possibly the strictest voter reform in the country, legislators introduced AND passed this bill within two days. Many of you responded to our action alert about guardianship issues in the bill. Originally, the bill restricted voter assistance to only a family member or guardian and would not allow someone who is compensated for the care of an individual to assist them at the polls. This was changed into a STUDY. The bill also limits early voting from 17 to 10 days, eliminates same day registration, restricts the ID you can show at the polls, eliminates pre-registration of 16 and 17 year olds, and so much more. This bill passed and was sent to the Governor. Several groups, including the Attorney General, have already stated they plan to challenge these measures in court.
HB 725 Young Offenders Rehabilitation Act: Raise the Age NC went through a lot this week. This bill was brought before House Rules twice this week before making its way to the floor. The bill won’t be implemented for six years (2019), requires a pilot program and an advisory committee before full implementation. The bill passed it’s second reading in the House but an objection was ruled for the third reading. It will be on the calendar at the beginning of short session in May. While we did not get the full results we wanted, this is a partial victory.
HB 786 RECLAIM NC Act: This is a study bill for the Department of Public Safety to study measures for addressing illegal immigration in NC. This bill passed the Senate and was sent to the Governor.
HB 1023 Adjournment Resolution: Everyone’s favorite bill of the session- this bill sent legislators home! Short Session will begin May 14, 2014.
What was in the budget and what was not?
SB 402 Appropriations Act of 2013: The $20.6B spending plan for NC was introduced late Sunday night and was sent to the Governor by Thursday.
– Offers grants for school social work positions
– Phases out Masters level pay in the 2014-2015 school year unless position requires it
– Does not allocate funding for educational services in PRTFs
Health and Human Services
– Does not move pregnant women on Medicaid to state health exchange during pregnancy
– Allocates close to $50M in 2013-2014 to Medicaid for an expected 69,683 enrollees under the ACA and just over $114M in 2014-2015 for an expected 72,426 enrollees under the ACA
– Gives $4,600,000 nonrecurring funds to help group homes through the fiscal year
– Reduces funding of AIDS Drug Assistance Program ($8M)
– Funds the Child Welfare Education Collaborative
– Funds the Adoption Promotion Fund and Permanency Innovation Initiative Fund
– Reduces ADATCs by 12%
– Provides funding for the Wright School (originally proposed to cut this)
– Maintains the Child Fatality Task Force
Justice & Public Safety
– Closes prisons in Duplin, Robeson, Bladen and Wayne counties and the Western Youth Institution. Converts the prison in Johnston County to minimum security.
– Provides $10M to compensate victims of the Eugenics Program.