Your source for the social work profession in North Carolina.
By Kay Castillo, Director of Advocacy, Policy, and Legislation
Legislators were hard at work this past week as Senators continued to work on their version of the state budget expected to be revealed this week. Both the House and the Senate overrode House Bill 405 Private Property Protection– often referred to as the “Ag-Gag” Bill as it prevents employees from the use of body cameras/hidden cameras on an employer’s property and allows businesses and property owners to seek damages if used. The bill is an attempt to stop the use of hidden cameras often used to expose the abuse done on farms to animals. During this bill’s development, it did not go through the thorough process it needed to ensure patient safety in nursing homes, daycare centers, and the like. The Governor originally vetoed the bill stating that it might prevent an employee from coming forward when abuse was occurring. The bill will now become law with the override votes from both chambers.
The Senate overrode Senate Bill 2 Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies, a bill that allows some court officials the ability to refuse to marry a couple if they hold serious religious convictions. It would impact their ability to marry couples for six months in their counties. In particular, this bill was filed to allow magistrates who were against gay marriage from marrying homosexual couples after the passage of gay marriage in October. The Governor did veto this bill. The House has not taken up an override vote as it is rumored that they may not have enough votes to override it at this point. Contact your Representative and ask them to sustain the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 2.
Relevant Bills With Action
SB 154 Clarify Good Samaritan Law: This bill clarifies immunity from prosecution as defined under the Good Samaritans Law passed in 2013. It goes further to protect citizens that are on parole or probation. The Good Smaritan Law protects individuals who experience a drug overdose or persons who witness an overdose. It encourages those to seek help for the victim and not be prosecuted for possession of small amounts of drugs, paraphernalia, or underage drinking. The bill passed the House and was sent back to the Senate.
SB 366 Amend Certain Reqs/Permanency Innovations Comm.: This would change the meeting and reporting times of the Permanency Innovation Committee so the committee can continue to meet twice a year or more as needed. The bill passed the House and will be sent to the Governor for signature.
SB 423 Foster Care Family Act: Yet another attempt to help children in foster care and better support foster care parents, the bill would create liability insurance for foster parents, remove barriers to children getting drivers licenses while in foster care and provide them with insurance, and to study a Medicaid waiver for children with serious emotional disturbance. The bill went through House Committee on Health and was referred to House Committee Judiciary III.
SB 424 Fostering Success: This bill extends foster care to age 21 to expand eligibility to include those in foster care who are completing a high school diploma or general education degree, are enrolled in college or a vocational program, participate in an employment program, are working at least 80 hours a month, or are incapable of meeting any of those requirements because of a medical condition or disability. Foster care youths who receive benefits and who are older than 18 could be approved to live away from their foster family to live in a college dormitory or other “semi-supervised” housing. It passed Senate committees this week and was sent to Appropriations. This is good news and might be an indication of the Senate budget priority to fund this. We will know more when the Senate budget is released.
HB 465 Women and Children’s Protection Act: What began as a 72 hour wait period to get an abortion, this bill got amended significantly this past week. In a political attempt to get Democrats to vote for the bill, Republicans added language from several other bills to this one including clarifying the statutory rape definition to include anyone under 15 years of age, establishing a Maternal Morality Review Committee to recommend ways to prevent deaths resulting from pregnancy or birth complications, strengthening sex offender laws, and making violence in front of a minor an aggravated sentencing factor. The bill passed the Senate last week and the House voted to concur with changes made. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature. Governor McCrory has already said he would sign it into law.
HB 560 Assault Emergency Workers/Hospital Personnel: This bill would make it a felony for a patient to assault hospital personnel and licensed healthcare providers working directly with patients. The bill passed the Senate and was sent back to the House where changes are expected to be made.
HB 562 Amend Firearm Laws: This bill was amended significantly regarding providers. Originally, it prohibited providers from discussing firearm safety with patients and imposed a fine. In it’s current form, providers are allowed to ask about access to firearms on a written questionnaire, but must notify the patient that they are not required to answer it and no fine is imposed on the provider. Additionally, the bill would allow for a concealed carry permit holder to retrieve a firearm from their car on a school campus if they feel they are in imminent danger. The bill would also allow legislators and legislative staff with a concealed carry permit to carry at the legislative building. The bill narrowly passed House Committee on Rules and will be heard on the House floor Monday night where more amendments are expected.
NASW-NC works on behalf of the social work profession on a variety of issues. It is a member benefit provided by NASW-NC to have a registered lobbyist advancing and supporting the profession of social work in North Carolina. The North Carolina Chapter works with National NASW on Federal issues such as reimbursement rates, immigration, student loans, and more. Your membership dues help support our advocacy efforts everyday on the state and federal levels. Thank YOU for being a member and staying engaged in supporting the social work profession.
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