Mar 9, 2018
NCGA Week in Review
Interim committees continued this week covering a wide range of topics.
School data security and Innovative School Districts were discussed. A
report on the state of North Carolina’s rape kit backlog came out,
North Carolina may be among the highest in the country. The opioid crisis
is being tackled on a number of new fronts at the local and state levels.
Unemployment Insurance changes are coming to the state, as well as improved
broadband infrastructure and a new wave of finance tech, or Fintech.
State and Local Government Get Creative on Opioid Crisis
As the opioid crisis continues to grow out of control in North Carolina,
state legislators as well as local government leaders are looking for
solutions. A new legislative committee has been formed to address the
sentencing and incarceration issues surrounding the crisis, while a Wake
County town takes on a new approach to battle the epidemic.
New Opioid Conviction Task Force Dives into Sentencing Reform
A new task force, chaired by Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Pitt), a surgeon from
Greenville, and Sen. Jim Davis (R-Macon), an orthodontist from Franklin,
met for the first time this week to explore yet another facet of the opioid
crisis: the rapidly rising number of North Carolina’s inmates suffering
from addiction and mental illness. According to
from the task force, the two problems often accompany each other, creating
a large population of inmates that North Carolina’s prisons and judicial
system are unequipped to handle.
What was covered?
The North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission provided an
of current sentencing laws and data. The overarching issue is that data on
opioid-related crimes is fragmented and hard to find, making it difficult
to understand the challenges facing the state through the restructuring
Next, Joe Prater of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety
of current incarceration statistics. He discussed the limited treatment
options for inmates with addiction or mental illnesses and the need for
continuing treatment after reintroduction to society.
The final item was a panel explanation of the Sequential Intercept Model
and various options for preventing the initial involvement of people with
behavioral health problems and addiction illnesses in the criminal justice
as well as diversion and intervention tactics before someone lands in jail
may be the key to treatment, decreasing recidivism, and reducing the cost
The Town of Cary is taking a new approach to tracking down opioid use:
testing wastewater. Cary has been selected as one of four municipalities in
the US that will receive a $100,000 grant to test for various drugs in
Cary’s wastewater and determine which neighborhoods have the highest
concentration of opioid use. This reverse approach is theorized to provide
critical demographic data to get a better understanding of who is using
opioids in Cary. After analysis, the City hopes to be able to set up more
tailored programs to combat drug use in the town and continue to monitor
the wastewater to determine the effectiveness of these programs.
Rape Kit Report
AG Josh Stein’s office released a
on March 1st on the state of North Carolina’s untested sexual assault
evidence kits. The study was conducted from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2017.
Of the state’s 563 agencies, 92 percent responded. By law, all law
enforcement agencies were required to provide the NC DOJ with a report of
their untested sexual assault kits earlier this year.
What Were the Results?
The report showed the Durham Police Department holds the most untested
sexual assault evidence kits of any law enforcement agency in the state.
Raleigh and Winston-Salem were not far behind Durham, both with over a
thousand kits sitting untested. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police received
two grants to help pay for testing of their kits.
The audit revealing more than 15,000 untested rape kits across the state
making North Carolina one of the worst offenders in the country. The AG’s
office made a few
to cut down on that backlog, including developing protocol to test all new
kits going forward, institute a kit tracking system statewide, and test all
kits currently in custody.
Unemployment Insurance Oversight Committee Discusses Proposed Changes
Requested by Division of Employment Security
Lawmakers met Wednesday to hear from Lockhart Taylor, Assistant Secretary
at the North Carolina Division of Unemployment Security, on a few changes
requested by the agency that will, if approved, go into a technical changes
bill in the upcoming short session.
One of these requested changes would extend the effective date of a
provision passed last session that will reduce response time for employers
to respond to a notice of claim from 14 to 10 days. The North Carolina
Division of Employment Security requested to move that effective date from
7/1/18 to 1/1/19.
The second request was for a requirement that all employers with ten or
more employees to file wages and taxes to the Division electronically
rather than on paper to cut down on the Division’s workload. The current
limit is set at employers with 25 or more employees.
The third provision requested was to reduce the number of job search
contacts claimants must make from five to the federally required three,
again, to cut down on the Division’s workload. Several years ago that
number was raised from two contacts to five, but according to committee
presentations it has proven difficult and time-consuming for the Division
The final provision requested would put a time limit on how long a claimant
has to withdraw their claim in order to file a second claim to prevent
people from filing new claims in order to get a higher check.
Trust Fund Status
Staff informed the committee that in order to prevent a deficit in the
trust fund like the $2 billion deficit the state suffered after the 2008
recession, the trust fund balance would need to be around $4 billion. It is
estimated the fund will reach that number around 2020.
IT Oversight Committee Discusses Broadband, ERP
The Information Technology Oversight Committee heard from a number of
presenters Thursday on topics ranging from Fintech to Department of Social
Services Software to rural broadband access.
Enterprise Resource Planning Update
The committee received a lengthy
from Mike Guay, Research Director at the consulting firm Gartner, on the
State of North Carolina’s enterprise resource planning, or ERP, which is
the integrated management of core business operations of all state agencies
through the use of software and technology. Guay covered the current state
of North Carolina’s outdated ERP system, past successes and failures, and
where the state is headed as it navigates a major change in the system.
Carolina Fintech Hub
Next, committee members heard from Charlotte City Councilman and Executive
Director of the Carolina Fintech Hub (CFH), Tariq Bokhari. His
explained Fintech as an organization that is trying to be a cutting edge
disrupter in the financial tech market. He gave a strategic update on CFH’s
program and told the committee that with the right tools and support, North
Carolina can become the worldwide leader for Fintech.
Rural Internet Access
Jeff Sural, Broadband Infrastructure Office Director at North Carolina
Department of Information Technology (DIT), gave the committee an
on the state of rural broadband in North Carolina. According to Mr. Sural,
there are many rural and low-income areas of the state that are still
struggling to get connected which exacerbates existing problems facing
those communities. Mr. Sural explained what DIT and private sector partners
are doing to help fix that deficit.
Social Services Software Update
Last, the committee heard from NCDHHS on the
Program, an enterprise software solution that delivers state benefits and
services at the county level for all 100 of North Carolina’s local
departments of social services.
Education Oversight Discusses School Data, Innovative Schools
Education leaders in the legislature met Tuesday to discuss school data
systems and connectivity. They also spoke at length about Innovative School
Districts and Cooperative Innovative High School funding changes.
IT in the Schoolroom
Phil Emer, Director of Technology Planning and Policy at North Carolina
State University’s Friday Institute for Educational Innovation
to the committee about its School Connectivity Initiative. Karl Pond,
Enterprise Data Manager at the North Carolina Department of Public
Instruction (DPI) and KC Elander, Senior Data Analyst at DPI
on the NC P-20W System and the issues facing data collection and analysis
in schools. John Correllus, Chief Data Officer and Director of the North
Carolina Government Data Analytics Center
on NC Longitudinal Data Systems through the North Carolina Government Data
Analytics Center and the related student data security concerns.
There was a lengthy conversation around North Carolina Innovative School
Districts (ISD) after a
from Dr. Eric Hall, ISD Superintendent. The committee discussed ISD
framework, goals, and outcomes.
Finally, the committee
from Sneha Shah Coltrane, Director of the Division of Advanced Learning and
Gifted Education at DPI and Lisa Eads, Program Coordinator for the North
Carolina Community College System, about Cooperative Innovative High School
A Look Ahead to Next Week
Monday, March 12
10:30 AM Social Services Regional Supervision and Collaboration Working
Tuesday, March 13
9:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services
1:00 PM Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Division of Local School
1:00 PM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid and NC Health
1:00 PM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Natural
and Economic Resources
Thursday, March 15
9:00 AM Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committee
9:30 AM Committee on Access to Healthcare in Rural North Carolina
10:00 AM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public
Safety, Subcommittee on ABC Permitting & Enforcement
10:00 AM Committee on Private Process Servers
1:00 PM Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform
1:00 PM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety