CONSISTENTLY DELIVERS

Mar 11, 2016

NCGA Week in Review

With the end of the legislative interim approaching, interim oversight committees continued to meet to discuss their legislative priorities. Several committees introduced and reviewed draft legislation to be considered in the upcoming short session. Interim committees will continue to meet through April.

Draft Legislation Reviewed

Several pieces of draft legislation were reviewed this week. Draft bills can be introduced in an interim committee for review and consideration before being formally drafted and introduced after session convenes on April 25.

This week, the following committees introduced draft legislation:

Capital Improvements Committee

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Capital Improvements Committee reviewed their report of findings and recommendations to the General Assembly.

The committee’s bill draft would increase legislative oversight of certain capital projects. They will vote on the draft legislation at their next meeting.

Program Evaluation Division Economic Development Subcommittee on Economic Development

The Joint Legislative Program Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development met on Monday, where they considered a bill draft that would eliminate the use of development tiers.

The draft legislation addresses the development tiers, which are seen as an outdated way to evaluate a counties economic health. The draft legislation would require state entities to eliminate and replace all use of the current tier structure.

A Commission on Economic Development for Distressed Communities would also be composed. The commission would be charged to reexamine strategic for identifying and assisting economically distressed communities.

The subcommittee voted affirmatively on the draft. The draft will be reviewed by the full PED committee before being drafted for consideration in the legislative session.

Revenue Laws Study Committee

Three bill drafts were reviewed in the Revenue Laws Study Committee on Tuesday.

The first bill draft is an update to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). The draft legislation would make various changes to the IRC. Rep. Bill Brawley (R-Mecklenburg) made an amendment in committee that effects wrongfully incarcerated individuals. The amendment is not included in the linked bill draft.

The second bill draft affects market based sourcing. The draft legislation would use market based sourcing for income tax apportionment. The goal of this draft legislation is to create job growth in the state and incentivize companies to do business in N.C.

The last bill draft proposed in the committee makes changes to N.C.’s current revenue laws. General Assembly staff provided the committee with a bill analysis of the changes the draft legislation would make. The draft legislation makes changes to business, personal, sales, excise and other taxes.

The IRC bill draft was voted on this Tuesday and passed along with an amendment made in committee. The other two drafts will be voted on at the subcommittee’s next meeting.

Environmental Review Commission

The Environmental Review Commission (ERC) met on Wednesday, where they discussed water safety and the effects of flame retardant chemicals.

First, Assistant Secretary for the Environment with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Tom Reeder presented to the committee on wetland mitigation and stream mitigation issues. The current mitigation threshold for stream impacts in N.C. is 150 linear feet. Mitigation requirement is a permit decision made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager through a 404 Permit. N.C. has considered assuming the 404 program and associated permitting responsibilities in the past. Reeder discussed the steps the state would have to take to assume this program. Reeder was joined by Ed Neill, of Neill Grading & Construction, and Chris Huysman, of Huysman and Brandy Inc., both of whom believe that current mitigation requirements are too stringent and costly. Sen. Brent Jackson (R-Duplin) suggested a sub-committee to further study wetland mitigation issues to which the committee agreed to consider for the interim leading up to the 2017 long session.

Then, Dr. Randall Williams, the State Health Director and Deputy Secretary for Health Services with DHHS provided the committee with a thorough explanation of hexavalent chromium and vanadium, two chemicals that are of concern regarding water safety in N.C. There has been substantial debate in the state regarding the safety of drinking water when it has been contaminated by these chemicals.

Dr. Williams informed the committee that DHHS has examined federal regulations and regulations in other states concerning safe levels of these chemicals. Both chemicals are carcinogens, but there is no firm evidence as to when they chemicals become particularly dangerous for human consumption.

DHHS sent letters to 314 private well owners on Thursday to rescind do not drink recommendations that had been issued earlier this year.

Finally, the committee heard from Heather Stapleton about the use of flame retardants in household items. Stapleton of Duke University presented to the committee on the scientific aspect of flame retardants and their health concerns. Flame retardants are used in most household items such as furniture, mattresses, insulation and television sets. Because these chemicals are in the air, humans are exposed to them passively in their homes. Stapleton reported that these chemicals, which are known carcinogens, are extremely dangerous to people, and may not be the best way to prevent fires.

The committee will reconvene on April 13.

Health and Human Services

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services met on Tuesday.

First, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Rick Brajer provided the committee with an update with what DHHS is currently working on. The current focuses of DHHS are: Medicaid reform, the Governor’s Task force on Mental Heath and Substance Use, child welfare, LME/MCO alignment, Zika preparedness, well water updates, food & nutrition timeliness and a single state audit.

The conversation then shifted to N.C.’s child welfare system. Deputy Secretary of DHHS Sherry Bradsher and Section Chief of the Child Welfare Section, Kevin Kelley, presented the Federal Report on N.C. Child & Family Services Reviews. Bradsher and Kelley provided an overview of the report, which is a collaborative effort between federal and state governments.

DHHS was charged to submit a report on expanding foster services to individuals until they reach age 21. Kevin Kelley provided an overview of the report.

The committee then discussed the regulation of advanced practice registered nurses in N.C. The committee heard from several stakeholders interested in changing the regulation of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

Chip Baggett and Dr. Docia Hickey from the N.C. Medical Society testified against reducing regulations on APRNs. They stated that APRNs should work with physicians as a team to provide high quality care.

Executive Director of the N.C. Board of Nursing, Julie George, followed with the position of the board that N.C. has an antiquated model of joint regulation of nurse practitioners (NPs) and is no longer a leader in APRN regulation.

Last, Tanyin Kopanos the Vice-President of State Government Affairs with the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners provided her testimony. Kopanos proposed that published works show no difference between physicians and NPs. She suggested that restrictions force NPs to leave the state and add to health care shortages in rural regions in the state.

The committee also heard a presentation on Certified Nurse Midwives and a testimony on the modernization of nursing practice in N.C.

The committee will reconvene on April 12.

Justice & Public Safety

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety met yesterday where they discussed the issue of gangs and gang violence in N.C.

The committee heard presentations from a panel of Law Enforcement Agents on the 2015 Annual Gang Report from the Department of Public Safety.

Sergeant Zeb Stroub from the Chapel Hill Police Department provided the committee with an overview of the main gangs and gang activity occurring in N.C. N.C gangs include street gangs such as the Bloods and Crips, Hispanic gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs and white supremacy groups. Gang violence and crimes is a grave concern of the N.C. police force.

Stubbs was followed by Michelle Guarino, Director of Program Development for Gang Free N.C., with the Chapel Hill Police Department. Guarino explained the psychological reasons that youth choose to join gangs. Gangs offer children a sense of connection and belonging and youth can be drawn in for many different reasons including boredom, peer pressure or a desire to be loved. Guarino stressed the importance of intervention and diversion with at risk populations Guarino suggested a three part approach to reducing childhood gang activity including a statewide approach, community involvement and in school interventions.

Additionally, a subcommittee of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety, the Subcommittee on Body-Worn Cameras, met on Wednesday where they heard the perspectives of the ACLU, N.C. Courts, State Law Agencies and Law Enforcement Associations.

Through the presentations, there was a consistent message that body-worn cameras increase transparency and accountability of officers, but have drawbacks such as their cost and legal issues regarding public records law and privacy. Dashboard cameras have been in use since the 1980s, but body-worn cameras have been on the rise, particularly in self-motivated movements within the police force. Colonel William Grey of N.C. State Highway Patrol stated that he favors body-cameras because they can aid in reducing frivolous complaints, provide evidence, and foster police-community relationships. Susanna Birdon of the ACLU of N.C. referred to this as a win-win for officers and communities.

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety will meet for a final time in April.

N.C. State Education Lottery

Yesterday, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on the N.C. State Lottery met to discuss revenue generation options for the lottery.

The Executive Director of the N.C. Education Lottery, Alice Garland, presented to committee on increasing N.C.’s game types to include more modern games that utilize technology. Garland highlighted games such as Keno, a quick draw game where drawing results are broadcasted live on a TV monitor every 3 to 5 minutes. Keno games are primarily seen in social establishments such as restaurants. This game type, and others have been successful revenue generators in other states.

Next, Director of Security at the N.C. Lottery, Moe McKnight, presented to the committee on the security efforts of the lottery. McKnight highlighted several specific examples of his department averting lottery fraud.

Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake), finished up the meeting with a presentation on his opposition to the N.C. State Lottery. Stam argued that the lottery disproportionately helps people in the Western region of the state. Though lottery funds are equally distributed amongst N.C.’s 100 counties, the Eastern counties have higher consumption of lottery products. Rep. Stam was joined by Rep. Pat Hurley (R-Randolph), in his dissent.

A Look Ahead to Next Week

Monday, March 14, 2016:

  • Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government – 9:00 am
  • Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Program Evaluation – 1:00 pm

Wednesday, March 16, 2016:

  • Select House Committee on Wildlife Resources – 2:00 pm

Thursday, March 17, 2016:

  • JLOC Administrative Oversight, Subcommittee on Occupational Licensing Board Oversight – 9:30 am
  • N.C. Courts Commission – 10:00 am
  • Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee, Ad hoc Subcommittee on Dental Board Case – 12:30 pm
  • Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight Committee – 1:00 pm

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