The legislature’s special session wrapped up on Tuesday and they are not expected to return to Raleigh until the short session, which begins on May 16. Several interim committees met this week, discussing topics including the state’s electronic recycling program, access to healthcare and the implementation of “Raise the Age.”

Special Session Wraps Up

After work at the legislature ramped up last week , the special session adjourned this Tuesday. This week:

  • The House okayed HB 90: Changes to Education and Election Laws which has been sent to the Governor. He has 30 days from February 13 to sign or veto the bill.
  • HB 189: Water Safety Act , which was sent to the House from the Senate for concurrence, was referred to the House Select Committee on NC River Quality. The committee has been studying water safety and emerging contaminants throughout the interim and is meeting next Tuesday.

Access to Rural Health Care Discussed by Research Committee

The Legislative Research Committee on Access to Healthcare in Rural NC held their second meeting of the interim yesterday. During their meeting, the committee received presentations on topics including telemedicine and access to pharmacies and dental care.

Study Recommends Telemedicine

Director of the Office of Rural Health Maggie Sauer presented the results of a 2017 study of telemedicine. The Department of Health and Human Services believes that telemedicine can improve the health of North Carolinians if the state requires Medicaid Managed Care Organizations to incorporate telemedicine into their payment models and if the state expands broadband infrastructure. According to a presentation from NC Department of Information Technology Research and Policy Specialist Amy Huffman, 95% of households without broadband internet access are in rural areas.

State of Health Care Access in Rural NC

East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine Dean Dr. Gregory Chadwick informed the committee that roughly 30% of the state experiences barriers to access dental care. NC Dental Society Delegate Dr. Gary Oyster overviewed dental outreach programs that provide free services to people in need.

The committee also heard from NC Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Jay Campbell who highlighted how pharmacists can play a larger role in providing healthcare in rural areas.

NC Board of Nursing Education and Advanced Practice Nursing Consultant Dr. Bobby Lowery provided a statement to the committee recommending the use of nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists to mitigate the impact of the rural healthcare crisis.

Committee Discusses Building Code Regulatory Reform

The House Select Committee on Implementation of Building Code Reform met yesterday to receive presentations from home builders and inspectors on the challenges they face due to current laws.

What’s Going On?

According to the Department of Insurance, current building inspection laws and codes are interpreted differently by each jurisdiction, resulting in inconsistent application.

Anything Else?

Both the builders and inspectors also emphasized workforce concerns, saying there are not enough skilled construction workers or inspectors to meet demands as the housing market rebounds from the recession.

Electronic Recycling Program Discussed by Environmental Review Commission

The Environmental Review Commission met on Wednesday to discuss the state’s electronic recycling program.

Tell Me More:

In 2010, NC enacted a law banning the disposal of certain electronics in landfills. The law also helped expand private and public infrastructure to manage recycling of devices. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Division of Waste Management Director Michael Scott presented an overview of the program , noting that 99.4% of North Carolinians have access to recycling centers.

The committee also heard from Mecklenburg County , which operates a large recycling program, and two of the electronic recycling companies that work with local governments in NC.

What’s Next?

DEQ Recycling Coordinator Scott Mouw suggested the legislature increase funding to local recycling programs to strengthen the program, which can be difficult for small and rural counties to fully manage. Committee members indicated an interest in restructuring how the program is funded to provide clarity to North Carolinians.

Emergency Management Oversight Committee Discusses Manmade Disasters

The Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committee met yesterday where they continued discussions on preparing the state for manmade disasters.

What Did They Discuss?

The committee heard presentations on fire preparedness, situational awareness and securing the electric grid. Chief State Fire Marshal Brian Taylor updated the committee on Fire Code enforcement, noting that the biggest impediment to enforcement is that Code Enforcement officers are only inside businesses once every three years. CEO of TigerSwan LLC James Reese presented to the committee on technology his company has developed to provide information to first responders in emergency situations. Executive Director of the Federal Taskforce on National and Homeland Security Dr. Vincent Pry provided an overview of efforts that NC could take to “keep the lights on” if there was a blackout caused by terrorists in NC.

Health & Human Services Oversight Subcommittees Meet

Two subcommittees of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services met this week.

Subcommittee on Aging Discusses Care Programs for Elderly, Adopts Final Report

The Subcommittee on Aging met on Monday. Several associations overviewed the health programs available to seniors in NC, including hospice care , residential health care and senior living facilities and adult day services . The subcommittee’s final report , which overviews the activities of the committee in the interim and does not include any legislative proposals was also approved at the meeting.

Subcommittee on Graduate Medical Education & Medical Residency Programs Holds First Meeting

The Subcommittee on Graduate Medical Education & Medical Residency Programs, which is charged to develop a statewide proposal to support medical education and medical residency programs within NC, held their first meeting on Monday. The committee received a number of presentations , including an overview of current graduate and medical education funding from the Fiscal Research Division of the legislature. Overall, presentations reported that the existing structure is failing to meet workforce needs.

Lottery Oversight Committee Holds First Meeting

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on the NC State Lottery held their first meeting of the interim on Thursday.

What Did They Discuss?

The committee received presentations on the current lottery system in NC, including a report that options exist to increase lottery proceeds for education from Program Evaluation Division Principal Program Evaluator Jim Horne.

Executive Director of the NC Education Lottery Alice Garland provided an update to the committee. According to Garland, the lottery has raised over $5.6 billion for education in 11 years. She also updated the committee on the implementation of Keno , a quick-draw lottery game that launched in October 2017 and features game terminals in social settings, like restaurants and bowling alleys. Garland noted increased lottery proceeds for education and sales at participating retailers.

Raise the Age Discussed at Justice & Public Safety Oversight Committee

On Thursday, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice & Public Safety met to receive presentations from State Highway Patrol, who provided an update on their activities, and Deputy Secretary for Juvenile Justice William Lassiter, who provided an update on Raise the Age.

What About Raise the Age?

SB 257: Appropriations Act of 2017 included a provision to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction, for most crimes, allowing 16 and 17 year olds to be tried as juveniles, not adults. Lassiter updated the committee on the Department of Public Safety’s planning and implementation efforts, including the creation of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, and hosting stakeholder and community forums. The Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act will go into effect in December 2019.

A Look Ahead to Next Week

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

3:00 PM Social Services Regional Supervision and Collaboration Working Group

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

9:00 AM Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Division of Local School Administrative Units

9:30 AM House Select Committee on NC River Quality

Thursday, February 21, 2018

10:00 AM Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform