By Kay Castillo, Director of Advocacy, Policy, and Legislation
Grim budget forecast
Budget presentations were held in all Appropriation Committees this week including a full budget meeting on Thursday with Representatives and Senators present. Legislative staff let lawmakers know that North Carolina is facing a $271 million shortfall and plans will need to be made to fill this funding gap. North Carolina is facing this shortfall as a result of less revenue coming into our state following tax changes made during the 2013 legislative session. In the Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee, legislators were told they would need to prioritize services to fund in the budget. The Governor should have a proposed budget out by late February and then legislators will begin to work on the budgets in the House and the Senate before deciding on one final budget. Budget decisions should be finalized by July 1st, 2015 which is the start of the fiscal year.
Introduced Bills of Interest
Senate Bill 49 Curbside Voting ID’s: This bill would require those wishing to vote curbside on Election Day to provide a form of ID. Using photo identification while curbside voting was exempt in the Voter ID legislation that passed in 2013.
House Bill 78 Enact Medical Cannabis Act: This bill seeks to regulate distribution and medical use of cannabis to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, and their physician and caregivers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties.
House Bill 83 Suicide Prevention Resolution: This resolution seeks to research ways to prevent suicide among minors and veterans in our state.
Senate Bill 87 Fund/Health Information Exchange: This bill appropriates already allocated funds to the Department of Health and Human Services to implement Health Information Exchange.
Social Work Advocacy Day
Join us and hundreds of social workers on Wednesday, March 25th at the NC General Assembly to advocate for the profession! Learn the skills of advocacy, hear from other social workers in policy, and meet with your legislators for this one day event. Registration and more details can be found on our website! Session 1 is still open! When making an appointment with your legislators, please make sure to meet with your Representative AND Senator! They both need to hear from you!
Other Upcoming Advocacy Days
NC Women United Women’s Advocacy Day Reception, Monday, February 23rd at 18 Seaboard in Raleigh, NC from 5:30-7:00.
NC Women United Women’s Advocacy Day, Tuesday, February 24th at the NC General Assembly in Raleigh, NC. Register online!
Coalition on Aging, Advocacy Week, Monday, February 23rd-27th in your hometown and at the NC General Assembly. Join aging advocacy groups on Wednesday, February 25th at the NC General Assembly for a day of action!