Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Arc of NC Policy Blog is Live in New Orleans!

The Arc of North Carolina Policy Blog is live today in New Orleans at the NCSL Conference.  We are participating with The Arc of the United States in hosting a both at the Exhibitor Hall!  New Orleans is beautiful and the excitement in this city is back!

The Blog is Back

The Arc of North Carolina Policy blog has not been updated recently as we all were working feverishly during the last two weeks of session.  We missed you all and hope you missed us too.
This session was short, hectic, and very rewarding.  People with disabilities and their family members benefitted greatly by the leadership of strong advocates in both the House and Senate.  We appreciate their efforts.  Thanks to their work and your strong voices we will see the opening of new CAP Tier 1 Support Waiver slots, funding for housing options for people with developmental disabilities, funding to support children with disabilities in our public schools and funding to assist families with medically fragile children.  This session supported the vision of many North Carolina advocates that people with developmental disabilities have the right to chose where they want to live, work and grow.  Thank you advocates and thank you legislative leaders.  

Later this week we will have a full legislative update.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Action Alert: Call Your North Carolina State Senator Today!

The Arc of North Carolina Action Alert

Take Action – Call Your North Carolina State Senator Today-Ask Them To Appoint Conferees for House Bill 1366 School Violence Prevention Act – The Bullying Bill.


House Bill 1366 The Bullying Bill passed the House last year with a list of enumerated categories. The categories include race, religion, gender, and disabilities. The categories were included in this legislation to address the groups of students who are most vulnerable to bullying. The list reflects the findings of national reports on bullying.
The Senate passed a similar bill last session but without the categories.
Last week the House voted 60 to 56 to not concur with the Senate bill. The bills must now go to conference.

Tell Them

This legislation needs to go to a conference committee.

Ask them to speak to leadership and request that conferees be appointed to discuss this bill.

Research has demonstrated that including enumerated categories makes students feel safer, and makes teachers and school staff more likely to intervene.

How to find your Senator
Or call 919-733-7928

Monday Hot Topics: Hot Policy Topics This Week

North Carolina:

Let’s start with the budget. Yes we are still talking about and tracking the budget. On Thursday, Speaker of the House Joe Hackney and Senator Marc Basnight announced that the budget conferees had completed their work, the budget is balanced, and we are ready for a vote. The first vote will take place tonight.

The total budget is $21.3 billion. It includes 3% raise for teachers and a 2.75% raise for state employees.  

We will have more on the budget after it gets through the first vote.

House Bills of Interest
First up tonight, concurrence vote on the budget.
Once that is finished there are two more bills up for concurrence votes tonight of interest to people with disabilities.

HB 93 Senate Committee Substitute - Weiss, Earle and England (Primary Sponsors) -
(Senate Committee Substitute) (2nd Edition)
This bill will study safety measure for transporting people who use wheelchairs from where they live or work to their next destination. This bill started last session. After today’s vote it will head to the Governor’s desk. This bill came out of the Aging Committee recommendations.

HB 2306 Senate Committee Substitute - Glazier, Lucas and Yongue (Primary Sponsors) -
PROGRAM. (Senate Committee Substitute) (3rd Edition)
This bill will direct a conversation between DHHS and DPI on who is responsible for what when a child is in a private residential treatment center.

Senate Bills of Interest
The Senate is also scheduled to vote on the budget conference report this evening.

Friday, July 4, 2008

NC Legislative Update: Breaking Budget News

The North Carolina Legislative Website has been updated to reflect the conference report on the budget.  That means we should see a vote as early as Monday.  We will be taking a look at the bill in depth over the weekend.  Until then may we suggest you read what Dan Kane at the News and Observer has to say about it. "Raises, aid for schools and colleges".

NC Legislative Update: Friday Wrap Up

Happy 4th of July.

Here is what happened before we all took the weekend off to celebrate and watch fireworks.

Rumors buzzed all week around the budget negotiations. On Thursday it was announced that a budget agreement had been reached. Votes on the budget will take place on either Monday and Tuesday of next week or Tuesday and Wednesday.  

Bills on The Arc of North Carolina’s Agenda:

HB 12: Students with Disabilities & Special Education Changes.
This legislation passed the House last year with unanimous support. Over the last two weeks this bill made it out of the Senate Committee on Education and the Senate. On Wednesday, July 2, the House voted to concur with 115 yes and 0 nays. HB 12 is now on its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
House Bill 12 restores a protection for students who have not yet been identified as needing special education services, but whose behavior clearly indicates the need for such services. This bill will now head over to the House chamber for concurrence. We are expecting to see this legislation on the Governor’s desk for his signature within the next week.

HB 1366: School Violence Prevention Act

The House and the Senate passed this legislation during last session. However, the House version included enumeration and the Senate version did not. On Tuesday, July 1, House Judiciary 1 recommended the full House not concur with the Senate version of the bill. On Wednesday, July 2, after a long and passionate debate the House voted 60 to 56 to not concur. We appreciate the work of our dedicated advocates who made phone calls and wrote emails to House members requesting they not concur with the Senate. We are now working on getting this bill to a conference committee.
HB 1366, better known as the Bullying Bill, would establish a state wide anti-bullying policy for our schools. The enumerated categories, which include students with disabilities, were created to express to administrators and teachers the categories of students who are most vulnerable to bullying.

HB 2523 Autism Committee Recommendations
This bill passed the House last week. On Wednesday this bill passed the Senate with a vote of 43 Yes to 0 Nays. This legislation removes the age limit on our State’s Silver Alert system. It also includes two provisions to address the need for training of law enforcement, court and judicial personnel on effective communication with people who have Autism.

Preview of Next Week:

Look for a vote on the budget early in the week.

Bills of Interest:
HB 93: Transportation of Individuals in Wheelchair Study.
This bill passed the House last year and the Senate this week. It will be returning to the House for a concurrence vote. This bill will study the safe transportation of people who use wheelchairs.

HB1366: School Violence Prevention Act
This legislation should be in committee this week. It will then travel back through both chambers for a final vote.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

NC Legislative Update-Bills of Interest Today-Senate and House

Today will be a busy day at the General Assembly.  


First a quick update on the budget.  Last report is that differences are still being worked out.  It is beginning to look more like next week before a vote on the budget will happen. That said, things change quickly in politics.  We will keep you informed.

Bill of Interest for Today:

HB 1366: School Violence Prevention Act
Yesterday, House Judiciary 1 recommended to not concur with the Senate version of House Bill 1366 School Violence Prevention Act (The Bullying Bill).  The vote was 8 in favor of not concurring and 6 in favor of concurring.  Today HB 1366 will be on the House floor for a vote to not concur.  The Arc of North Carolina and many coalition advocacy groups have been advocating to have the enumerations placed back into the bill.  It is not to late to help with this effort.  Please call or email your Representative and ask them to not concur with the Senate version of this bill.  (See the Action Alert from Monday).

(Senate Committee Substitute) (3rd Edition)
This bill passed the Senate last week and is headed back to the House for concurrence today. The Arc of North Carolina and the Special Needs Federation with many other advocates worked very hard on this legislation.  We appreciate the hard work and dedication of Representative Rick Glazier who brought together multiple voices to find common ground.
This important legislation will protect unidentified, eligible students with disabilities from long-term suspensions when schools fail to identify them and their performance and behavior clearly established the need for such services. We are expecting the Governor to sign this bill next week.

In Committee Today:

Senate  Health Care 11:00 AM 544 LOB
HB 2523 Autism Committee Recommendations
This bill passed the House last week.  The bill contains three sections. Two deal with creating training tools for law enforcement and court personnel in how to communicate with a person who has autism.  The first section would remove the age limit on the Silver Alert system.  The Senate version of this bill passed the Senate last week also.  

Senate Transportation 11:00 AM 1027 LB
HB 93 Transport of Individuals in Wheelchair Study
This bill would study safe transit for people who use wheelchairs.  The Arc of North Carolina supports this bill.