Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Wrap Up: Bills This Week

North Carolina:

This week the General Assembly continued its review of how the economic stimulus package would affect the current budget crisis. 

Bills filed:

HB 176: Housing Trust Fund Appropriation-Adams
This bill will appropriate fifty million dollars to the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency. This funding request is for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

HB 177: Healthy Families and Health Workplaces Act-Adams

This bill is the paid sick leave bill. This bill would allow covered employees to earn a minimum number of paid sick days each year. Covered workers would earn one hour of paid sick time for every thirty hours worked, up to a maximum of seven days per year.

HB 179: Accessible Electronic Info Act/Blind/Disabled-Adams

There is appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of
Health and Human Services the sum of seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000) for the
2009-2010 fiscal year to be used by the Division of Services for the Blind within the
Department of Health and Human Services to establish an accessible electronic information service for blind and disabled persons in this State.

HB 207: Safer Communities Act-Harrison.

This bill would amend the Safer Communities Act to include people with disabilities.
SECTION 1. G.S. 14-3 reads as rewritten:
"§ 14-3. Punishment of misdemeanors, infamous offenses, offenses committed in secrecy and malice, or with deceit and intent to defraud, or with ethnic
animosity. Animosity based upon ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, or
disability; punishment of felony committed with animosity based upon
ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, or disability.

HB176: Housing Trust Fund Appropriation-Adams.
This appropriation bill is requesting that fifty million dollars be appropriated from the General Fund to the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency for fiscal year 2009-2010.

HB190: Medicaid Improper Claims Software/Funds-Stam
This bill would appropriate three billion dollars annually to the Department of Health and Human services to purchase enhanced software so that the department can identify and reject improper Medicaid claims prior to the claims being paid.

HB212: Health Insurance Pool Pilot Program.-Goforth
This bill would authorize the establishment of a health insurance pilot demonstration project for interested counties to provide a model for affordable employer-based health insurance.

HB221: Oversight of Licensing Boards-K.Alexander.
This bill would require certain licensing boards be audited annually, specify a date for filing of reports and establish sanctions for failure to file.

HB 231: Positive Behavior Support Position Funds-Glazier.

This bill would appropriate from the General Fund to the Department of Public Instruction two hundred eighty-five dollars in recurring funding for the fiscal years of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 to establish three new positive behavior support positions at the Department of public Instructions

HB 243: Mental Health/Law Enforcement Custody-Insko
This bill will clarify the transportation and custody requirements when law enforcement officers transport and individual pursuant to involuntary commitment proceedings.

SB 203: DMV to Issue Special ID Cards/Special Cir.-Berger
This bill will require the Division of Motor Vehicles to issue a special idntification card, free of charge, when their valid drivers license is revoked due to a decision regarding a medical disqualification.

SB208: People First-Dorsett
This bill will direct bill draft to use people first language where appropriate.

SB 241: Alternative Testimony/Children and Adults with Disabilities-Purcell

This bill will provide and alternative means of testimony for adults and children with disabilities. This bill is a recommendation from the Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorder and Public Safety.

Additional Legislative News

The Senate continued the process this week of reviewing the stimulus package and its effect on the state. The big topic was the education stimulus package and how the money would be broken down into specific funding silos. The federal stimulus package will not permit major cuts to current state funding. This is due to a stipulation that deals with maintenance of effort. For the education budget this means that Title 1 funding can not dip bellow the state funding levels of 2005-2006 fiscal year or the state of North Carolina can not access the stimulus money.

The Medicaid budget includes the same stipulation of maintenance of effort and it also adds in clarification that eligibility cannot be adjusted. The Medicaid stimulus review was cancelled this week and will be rescheduled for next week. North Carolina will see approximately $2.35 billion to help us with our Medicaid needs. However, even with the stimulus package we will still see deep cuts in health and human services as we begin the 2009-2010 fiscal budget.

Overall the budget of North Carolina for the current fiscal year is facing a $2 billion dollar deficit. Today we received news that the possible deficit for the 2009-2010 fiscal year could be in the range of $4 billion dollars.

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