CONSISTENTLY DELIVERS

Jun 16, 2017

NCGA Week in Review

As the legislature continues to move towards adjournment, lawmakers are considering major policy proposals and are nearing agreement on the state’s two year budget plan. This week, the legislature considered bills to ease regulatory burdens, reform parts of the state’s economic development structure, and improve health across the state.

Budget Update

After two weeks of negotiations, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), announced yesterday that it is his hope that a conference report could be read in on the House floor either today or tomorrow. Once the conference report is read in, House rules require it to be publicly available for two days before being voted on.

Economic Development

Reps. Susan Martin (R-Wilson), John Szoka (R-Cumberland), Stephen Ross (R-Alamance) and John Fraley (R-Iredell), introduced a proposed committee substitute (PCS) to HB 795: Economic Development Incentives Modifications in the House Committee on Commerce and Job Development this week. The bill, which received a favorable report on Thursday and now heads to the Committee on Finance, would:

  • Reduce the number of jobs required for a project to qualify as high yield under the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG). Under current law, a business must invest at least $500 million and create 1,750 jobs to receive this designation. Under HB 795, the requirements would instead be based upon the tier designation of the projects location, ranging from 1,750 jobs for projects in high-growth areas and 800 jobs in tier 1 areas.
  • Reduce the filing fee for JDIG award applicants based upon tier area, ranging from $10,000, the current amount for all filings, for tier 3 areas and all high-yield projects, to $1,000 for tier 1 areas.
  • Revise the system currently used by the Department of Commerce to rank counties for economic distress to evaluate ratio of employment to population for the civilian population aged 25 to 64, average annual wage and adjusted assessed property value per capita and eliminate all adjustment factors.
  • Require the Department of Commerce to report on the performance of each county and offer performance assistance to all counties.
  • Require all state agencies that use the tiers for non-economic development purposes to elect whether or not to continue use of the tiers. If an agency were to discontinue use, they would be required to develop criteria to achieve program objectives by October 1, 2017.
  • Require the Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight Committee to study and propose legislation that separates the economic development tiers and non-county designations for targeted programs.
  • Extend the JDIG sunset to January 1, 2025.

To read more about HB 795, please click here to review a summary prepared by legislative staff.

Health Care

Sponsored by Reps. Greg Murphy (R-Pitt), Ted Davis (R-New Hanover), Chris Malone (R-Wake) and Craig Horn (R-Union), HB 243: Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act seeks to address the opioid addiction epidemic by controlling prescriptions of pain killers and strengthening treatment options for addicted individuals. The bill, which passed Senate Health Care Committee on Thursday, includes provisions that would:

  • Allow practitioners to prescribe opioid antagonists to local health departments, law enforcement agencies and organizations that promote scientifically proven ways of treating substance use disorders
  • Require physician assistants and nurse practitioners to consult with their supervising physician prior to prescribing Schedule II and III opioids if the patient is being treated in a pain management facility and treatment is expected to exceed a 30 day period
  • Require prescribers to use electronic prescriptions when prescribing Schedule II and III opioids.
  • Limit practitioners to prescribing a five-day supply of opioids for acute pain, and seven-days for post-surgical treatment.
  • Require hospice and palliative care providers who prescribe opioids for in-home treatment to provide their patients and families with safe disposal instructions.
  • Clarify that needle exchange programs may receive public funds, but cannot receive state funds.
  • Strengthen the state’s Controlled Substances Reporting System by increasing regulations and oversight including requiring practitioners and pharmacists to review a 12-month patient history prior to signing or fulfilling an initial opioid prescription.

The bill now heads to the Senate Committee on Rules before heading to the Senate floor. The bill has been publicly backed by both Gov. Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein.

On Thursday, Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) introduced a PCS to HB 403: Behavioral Health and Medicaid Modifications, which is sponsored by Reps. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth), Josh Dobson (R-McDowell) and Donna White (R-Johnston). The PCS would:

  • Respond to spending concerns raised in a recent audit of one LME/ MCO, Cardinal Innovations, including prohibiting LME/MCOs from using any funds on holiday parties, alcohol, first-class or chartered airfare, and meetings or retreats outside of the state.
  • Eliminate the LME/ MCO structure 18 months after the state’s Medicaid reform waiver is approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which could be as soon at 2019.
  • Make changes to the Medicaid transformation law, including the number of Provider-led entity (PLE) and Physician Health Plan (PHP) contracts allowed.
  • Replace the requirement that PHPs must comply with Chapter 58, the state’s laws that regulate the insurance market, with the recently amended federal Medicaid managed care regulations.
  • Require the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to give the General Assembly notice prior to submitting or not submitting amendments to the state Medicaid State Plan, which are posted on the DHHS website.
  • Make conforming changes to the process for Medicaid beneficiaries enrolled in a LME/ MCO to appeal or file grievances, to align with recently passed federal managed care regulations.

The bill now heads to the Senate Committee on Rules before heading to the floor. Because the bill is substantially different from what the House sent over, Sen. Hise indicated the House is not likely to concur on the changes made in the Senate and it will be sent to conference. To review a summary of HB 403 prepared by legislative staff, follow this link.

Human Trafficking

HB 451: Regulate Massage and Body Work Therapy, which is sponsored by Reps. Allen McNeill (R-Randolph), Bert Jones (R-Rockingham), Rena Turner (R-Iredell) and Pat Hurley (R-Randolph), aims to prevent human traffickers from using massage therapy establishments to cover up their operations. HB 451 would:

  • Require massage therapy establishments to be licensed. Current law only requires therapists to be licensed, which puts the burden on the individual, not the business, in cases where a person has been forced into an illegal operation.
  • Require massage therapists to be proficient in English.

HB 451 was approved by the House Finance Committee on Thursday and now heads to Judiciary I.

Sponsored by Sens. Shirley Randleman (R-Wilkes), Warren Daniel (R-Burke) and Andrew Brock (R-Davie), SB 548: Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws/ Studies received a favorable report from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Along with the provisions in HB 451, the bill would:

  • Require adult establishments, rest areas and welcome centers, businesses that sell alcohol, hospitals and employment or training centers to display public awareness signs on the issue of human trafficking, including the information for the National Human Trafficking Resource hotline.
  • Prohibit the practice of massage therapy and bodywork in adult establishments.

The bill has been sent to the Senate Committee on Rules.

Regulatory Reform

On Thursday afternoon, the House passed SB 16: Business & Agency Regulatory Reform Act of 2017, after a committee substitute that was introduced in the House Committee on Regulatory Reform on Wednesday. The bill, which now heads back to the Senate for concurrence, includes provisions that would:

  • Amend laws regarding bed and breakfasts to remove a 23 guest per night limit, and allow the inns to serve lunch and dinner and charge for those meals separately.
  • Amend alarm system business licensing statutes to remove a requirement that alarm system sales agents be residents of NC.
  • Repeal a requirement that businesses must employ a minimum of 26 employees to purchase stop-loss insurance.
  • Authorize private condemnation of land for pipelines that originate outside of the state.
  • Prevent cities from requiring improved stormwater controls when properties are redeveloped.
  • Add backup lights to the list of lights covered by state vehicle safety inspections.

SB 16 passed with a 94-19 vote. To read more about SB 16, follow this link to review a summary prepared by legislative staff.

The Senate also introduced an omnibus regulatory reform bill this week via committee substitute. HB 374: Business Freedom Act, which passed the Senate Committee on Commerce and Insurance on Thursday would:

  • Amend labor laws by limiting who can approve youth employment certificates, codifying the Carolina Star Program, and amending the Passenger Tramway Safety Act.
  • Amend the definition of a landfill’s “life-of-site” to include that the period may not exceed 60 years.
  • Allow construction of a parking garage to extend a lot line between a city-owned and a privately-owned lot without meeting certain building code provisions.
  • Amend stormwater runoff rules for airports by restricting local governments from requiring control measures that promote standing water.
  • Direct the Medical Care Commission to repeal the Hospital Facilities Rules and replace them with the American Society for Healthcare Engineers Facility Guidelines Institute “Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospitals and Outpatient Facilities.”

The bill now heads to the Senate Committee on Rules. To read a summary of the PCS prepared by legislative staff, follow this link.