Dec 15, 2017
NCGA Week in Review
This week, the General Assembly was abuzz as legislators held a number of
legislative oversight meetings. Issues discussed included education finance
reform, judicial redistricting and addressing a nursing shortage in state
Publication of the NCGA Week in Review will pause until after the new year.
The team at McGuireWoods Consulting wishes you and your family a very happy
Legislative Oversight Committees Meet
Agriculture, Natural & Economic Resources Oversight
On Tuesday, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Agriculture and
Natural and Economic Resources held their first meeting of the interim.
The committee first heard a
of the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which
provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to
implement conservation practices on their land, from US Department of
Agriculture (USDA) Assistant State Conservationist Greg Walker. Walker
reviewed the eligibility criteria considered by the USDA when awarding EQIP
funds. In 2017, $20.4 million of EQIP funds were distributed in NC. Walker
was followed by Deputy Director of Soil and Water Conservation with the
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) David Williams who
to the committee on state coordination with the EQIP program.
The committee then heard an
from Assistant Secretary for the Environment with the Department of
Environmental Quality (DEQ) Sheila Holman on DEQ’s efforts to implement
budget reductions directed by the 2017 Appropriations Act. Holman reported
that DEQ needs to identify an additional $65,140 in savings to meet the
required $828,114 reduction in the 2017-18 fiscal year.
Finally, Executive Director of the NC Arts Council Wayne Martin
to the committee on a grant program included in the 2017 Appropriations Act
that provides funds to support art projects serving NC military service
four projects that were selected in the first round of funding as well as
the grant guidelines.
To view all documents from Tuesday’s meeting, follow this
Building Code Reform
The House Select Committee on Implementation of Building Code Regulatory
Reform held their first meeting on Wednesday. Committee Chair Rep. Mark
Brody opened the committee by noting “gross inconsistencies in building
code across the state.” The committee will study three existing state laws:
Capital Improvements Oversight
While meeting on Wednesday, the Joint Legislative Oversight Commitee on
Capital Improvements received updates on the implementation of the Connect
NC Bond from the NC Community College System and NC State Parks. Director
of the Division of Parks and Recreation Mike Murphy
that the $75 million the Division received from the Bond will fund 45
projects across the state. Then Community College System Vice President
an overview of the 200 projects that have been approved by the State Board
of Community Colleges.
Education Finance Reform
The Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform met on
Thursday to hear two presentations from the Department of Public
DPI Chief Financial Officer Adam Levinson presented an
of public education finance in NC and responded to findings from a 2016
Program Evaluation Division study
of NC’s education funding model. Levinson then suggested that the committee
perform further review of the Exceptional Children’s allotment and funding
for charter schools and identify what the General Assembly’s principles are
for an updated finance system.
The committee then heard from DPI Director of School Business Alexis
DPI’s school business processes, including the cycle of state funds, data
and controls and state budget and allotments.
The Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee held their first
meeting of the interim today where they heard a
on the 2017 municipal elections from Executive Director of the State Board
of Elections and Ethics Enforcement Kim Strach. According to Stratch,
because the turnover in municipal is lower, they highlight the importance
of post-election audits. 109 contests in NC’s 2017 municipal elections were
decided by ten votes or fewer. She recommended adjusting the election
schedule for 2019 to elongate the time period for counties to ensure an
accurate election, and provide a mechanism for mandatory recounts of
municipal elections decided by one vote.
The committee also heard from Legislative Analysis Division staff, Kara
McCraw and Jessica Sammons, who
the implementation of
SB 656: Electoral Freedom Act of 2017
and possible legal issues with the law. SB 656 changed the definition of a
political party to reduce the number of signatures needed for the formation
of a new political party.
Emergency Management Oversight
Yesterday, the Joint Legislative Emergency Management Committee held their
third meeting of the interim.
DPS State Capitol Police Division Chief Glen Allen
to the committee on security at the General Assembly and other state
capitol facilities. NCGA Police Chief Martin Brock followed Chief Allen
of security at the legislature, including an overview of emergency
Additionally, Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram
Brunswick County’s Citizens Academy, which educates citizens on law
procedures, and volunteer programs.
Environmental Review Commission
On Wednesday, the Environmental Review Commission held their second meeting
of the interim to discuss the solid waste disposal tax.
The committee received a
from DEQ Division of Waste Management Director Michael Scott. Proceeds from
the $2/ ton tax are allocated to the Inactive Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund
(50% of proceeds), to cities and counties that provide solid waste
management programs and services on a per-capita basis (37.5%) and to the
General Fund (12.5%). Scott then overviewed the Inactive Hazardous Sites
Cleanup Fund, which provides remediation dollars to cleanup out of use
Scott was followed by Harnett County Engineer and Solid Waste Director
Amanda Bader who
how Harnett County has benefitted from the tax. Harnett County receives a
disbursement of $75,000-80,000 annually, which has allowed the county to
purchase new equipment and make facility upgrades.
Health & Human Services Oversight
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services met
on Tuesday to hear updates from DHHS.
First, NC Families Accessing Services Through Technology (NCFAST) Director
Angela Taylor provided the committee with an
on NCFAST implementation, which began to rollout in 2013. According to her
presentation, there are 6,500 NCFAST users daily in all 100 counties. DHHS
Deputy Secretary for Technology & Operations then
the committee on other IT projects within DHHS.
The committee also a discussion with DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen and Deputy
Secretary for Medical Assistance Dave Richard regarding the LME/ MCO
Cardinal Innovations, which DHHS
last month. In their presentation, Secretary Cohen and Richard noted that a
new board will be appointed today and DHHS will work with Cardinal to
develop a “detailed corrective action plan” while Cardinal stabilizes.
To view all documents from the committee, follow this
Information Technology Oversight
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Information Technology met
yesterday to hear presentations on fraud detection and prevention from the
Department of Revenue and the State Treasurer.
First, Department of Revenue Examinations Division Director Alan Woodard
to the committee on the Department’s efforts to reduce fraud, including a
data analysis partnership with SAS that analyzes state refunds.
Then, Chief Information Officer with the Information Technology Division of
the Department of State Treasurer Bill Golden
to the committee, highlighting data protection efforts.
Judicial Redistricting & Reform
The Senate Select Committee on Judicial Reform and Redistricting held their
third meeting on Wednesday.
The committee first heard from Elon University School of Law Professor
Scott Gaylord who
on judicial selection methods. According to Gaylord, elections legitimize
the courts and make judges directly accountable to the voters.
The next item on the committee’s agenda caused some partisan controversy
when Gov. Roy Cooper sent recently retired Wake County Superior Court Judge
Don Stephens to testify on behalf of the Office of the Governor. Committee
Chair Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg) did not allow Stephens to speak on
the basis that he is not a paid staff member of the Governor. This move led
Democratic committee members Sens. Joel Ford (Mecklenburg), Jay Chaudhuri
(Wake) and Floyd McKissick (Durham) to walk out of the committee in
Finally, the committee chairs introduced their
Court redistricting proposals.
Justice & Public Safety
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety met
First, the committee heard from Deputy Secretary of Administration with the
Division of Adult and Juvenile Correction Joe Prater, who
the committee on the Division’s nurse recruitment efforts. Currently, there
are 266 vacant registered nurse and licensed practical nurse positions
within the Division, 144 of which have been vacant for more than 6 months.
Then, the Executive Director of the Private Protective Services Board and
the Alarm Systems Licensing Board, Brian Jones,
to the committee on private protective services and alarm systems
Finally, City of Wilmington Fire Chief Buddy Martinette
the committee on the NC search and rescue program. Martinette compared
search and rescue efforts following the Hurricane Floyd in 1999 to efforts
in 2016 after Hurricane Matthew. He noted that a partnership between local
and state government improved response and saved lives.