Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Wrap Up: Bills This Week and Budget Update

North Carolina:

Bills filed:
HB353 People First-Insko
This bill is identical to the Senate bill. It will direct bill drafting to use people first language where appropriate in the writing of new legislation and rules.

SB 309: Capital Procedure/Severe Mental Disability-Kinnaird
This bill is identical to the House bill. It will amend the capital trial, sentencing, and post conviction procedures for a person with a severe mental disability.

Bill Updates:
HB 134: Assault State of Local Officer of Employee-Tucker
An act to raise the criminal offense of simple assault on an officer or employee of the state or a political subdivision of the state from a Class A1 misdemeanor to a Class I felony.

The House Judiciary III committee heard this bill on Thursday, February 26, 2009. The bill is written so broadly that it includes all employees of the state including people who work in our schools and our state institutions. Several members of the committee raised serious concerns with the breadth of the bill. The bill sponsor stated that this was really aimed at protecting people who work in our corrections institutions. That said the majority of the members felt that there needed to be more discussions and more fine tuning of the bill and it was sent to a subcommittee. The members of the subcommittee are Representatives Tillis, Wiley, and Mackey. A fiscal note was also ordered for the bill.

HB 2: Prohibit Smoking in Public & Work Places-Holliman

This bill would prohibit smoking in public places and places of employment.

On Thursday the House Health committee met to hear testimony and an explanation of this bill. No vote was taken during this meeting. The bill would prohibit smoking in public places (restaurants, bars, clubs) and places of employment including as children and adult care facilities. During the discussion an important question was raised by Representative Avila, she asked if this law would prohibit smoking in a personal residence under the following situation: a person with a medical condition/disability whom own their home and pays for a personal care attendant. Two answers were given to this question, the first was no it would not apply but in a follow up question regarding a private business in a persons home the answer was yes. A case could be made that the person with a medical condition/disability was an employer and the person who was the attendant was an employee and therefore the home would need to be no smoking. There will be clarifications of this bill in future amendments.

Additional Legislative News:


There was a joint meeting of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services this week. The discussion was around the stimulus and how it was coming into the state and into which categories the funding would fall. At the same meeting Senator Berger stated that the co-chairs had been asked to create a budget with a 7%, 10%, and 11% cut. He stated that if you were to cut out the entire Division of Aging, Public Health, Blind and Deaf Educational Services and Vocational Rehabilitation you would arrive only at a 7% cut. He then explained that if we go into Medicaid, to receive the federal dollars we could only cut reimbursement rates or optional programs. He asked the committee members to create their own list that would of cuts totally 100 million dollars and bring those lists back to the full committee.

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