The House and the Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto of the budget last week and then spent long days in committee and in session in order to adjourn on Saturday. The following is a summary of bills acted upon last week. Full reports on all of the bills of interest to people with disabilities will be posted soon, along with a final budget summary.
HB 229, Rural Operating Assistance Program Changes (Owens Sponsor). HB 229 will allow regional public transportation authorities, upon written agreement with the counties, to apply for Elderly and Disabled transportation and assistance funds to which the member counties are entitled to receive. The bill was approved by the Senate without changes last week and has been presented to the Governor for her signature.
HB 344, Tax Credits for Children with Disabilities (Stam, Randleman, Jordan and Jones Sponsors). The bill creates an individual income tax credit for families of children with disabilities who require special education and are attending a nonpublic school, including home school. The credit is equal to the amount the taxpayer paid for tuition and special education and related services expenses, not to exceed three thousand dollars ($3,000) per semester. It also creates a Fund for Special Education and Related Services, with $2,000 per tax credit given being transferred to the Fund each year. Last week, this legislation was approved by the Senate, and the House concurred with the changes made in the Senate. It will now proceed to the Governor.
HB 351, Restore Confidence in Government (Lewis, Moore and Killian Sponsors). HB351, aka the “Voter ID” bill will require photo identification before voting. The bill as passed removed all of the compromise language discussed earlier in the session, including the exceptions for people with disabilities. The Senate Judiciary I and Appropriations committees approved the bill last week, and the House concurred in the Senate committee substitute. The bill has now been presented to the Governor and it is hoped that she will veto the legislation.
HB 374, Eugenics Records/Public Records Exemption (Womble and Parmon Sponsors). The bill makes clear that records in the custody of the State concerning the North Carolina Eugenics Board program are not public records to the extent they concern: (i) persons impacted by the program, (ii) persons or their guardians or authorized agents inquiring about the impact of the program on them, (iii) persons or their guardians or authorized agents inquiring about the potential impact of the program on others. It also states that a person impacted by the program may obtain that person's individual records under the program, and a guardian or authorized agent of that person may also obtain them. The bill was approved by the Senate and ratified by the House last week and has been presented to the Governor.
HB 397, DHHS Penalties and Remedies Revision (Lewis Sponsor). HB 397 seeks to amend facility penalty provisions under 122C, 131D and 131E to split Type A violations into Type A1 (violations that result in result in death or serious physical harm, abuse, neglect, or exploitation) and Type A2 violations (violations that result in substantial risk that death or serious physical harm, abuse, neglect, or exploitation will occur). HB 397 is now a consensus bill that passed through the House last month. HB 397 was approved by the Senate Finance committee where some technical corrections to the bill were made, followed by approval by the full Senate. The House concurred in the Senate committee substitute and the bill has been presented to the Governor.
HB 509, Exclusions from Licensure: Home Services (Hurley Sponsor). HB 509 seeks to allow people with disabilities who receive MH/DD/SA services to live together as roommates without their home being considered a facility for licensing purposes. Specifically, it excludes from licensure: “A home in which up to three adults, two or more having a disability, co own or co rent a home in which the persons with disabilities are receiving three or more hours of day services in the home or up to 24 hours of residential services in the home. The individuals who have disabilities cannot be required to move if the individuals change services, change service providers, or discontinue services.” Disability Rights NC was part of the workgroup that developed this language, and we support this bill. HB 509 was approved by the full Senate last week and has been presented to the Governor.
HB 595, Reorganization/Legislative Oversight Comns (Barnhart, Burr Sponsors). HB 595 proposes a new structure for the numerous legislative committees and commissions, including establishing a Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services, which merges the Study Commission on Aging, the Joint Legislative Health Care Oversight Committee, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services, and the Public Health Study Commission. Last week, the House concurred with the changes made in the Senate and the bill has been presented to the Governor.
HB 618, Streamline Oversight/DHHS Service Providers (Lewis and Hurley Sponsors). HB 618 seeks to streamline duplicate oversight of DHHS service providers. A very scaled back version of the bill was approved by the Senate last week. The bill no longer includes a task force to make recommendations on duplicative oversight. The bill now directs DHHS to: prepare a rate setting memorandum for every change or adjustment made by DHHS in service definition, policy, rule, or provider requirements that impacts services; dissolve North Carolina Treatment Outcomes Program Performance System (NC TOPPS) Advisory Committee and establish a task force made up of division staff, Behavioral Health Managed Care Organizations, consumers, and providers to objectively evaluate the North Carolina Treatment Outcomes Program Performance System (NC TOPPS) to improve the way data is accessible across services rather than site specific to reflect valid comparisons of program outcomes by August 1, 2011; allow private sector development and implementation of an Internet based, secure, and consolidated data warehouse and archive for maintaining corporate, fiscal, and administrative records of providers by September 1, 2011; and review on an annual basis updates to policy made by national accrediting bodies and take actions necessary to ensure that DHHS policy or procedural requirements do not duplicate the updated accreditation standards. The House concurred in the Senate committee substitute and the bill has been presented to the Governor.
HB 622, Nursing Homes/Food Service Inspections (McCormick, Stevens, Cleveland, Glazier Sponsors), was previously titled “Article 3A Administrative Procedures.” The bill now seeks to allow nursing homes and nursing home beds licensed under Chapter 131E that are also certified by Medicare and Medicaid to be limited to one food service inspection per year unless the facility receives a grade "B" or lower on its annual inspection. It was approved by the Senate last week and has been presented to the Governor.
HB 646, Prison Hospital Completion (Daughtry Sponsor). The bill allows the Department of Correction to use funds allocated for 2 capital projects that came in under budget to finish the hospital at Central Prison (funds will be used to finish the facility, purchase medical equipment, and expand the kitchen). The prison hospital will have 120 beds and will include beds for inmates with psychiatric needs. The bill was approved by the full Senate last week and has been presented to the Governor.
HB 677, Discharge of Adult Care Home Residents (Lewis). HB 677 seeks to change the law governing Adult Care Home discharge of residents. A committee substitute which made several changes was approved by the Senate last week. The bill now places the responsibility for determining an appropriate discharge destination on the local adult care home discharge team members, rather than on the Division of Medical Assistance Hearing Unit. It also adds that the Department cannot prohibit discharge solely for the reason that the discharge destination identified in the written notice does not include an appropriate discharge destination. However, the discharge team must provide the Hearing Unit with the discharge location at or before the discharge hearing. It also now provides that LMEs shall take the lead role for the discharge destination for residents whose primary unmet needs are related to MH/DD/SA and local departments of social services shall take the lead role for those residents whose primary unmet needs are related to health, including Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, welfare, abuse, or neglect. Finally, the legislation now states that the resident shall remain in the facility pending appeal unless (1) The discharge is necessary for the resident's welfare and the resident's needs cannot be met in the facility as documented by the resident's physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner;(2) The safety of other individuals in the facility is endangered; and (3) The health of other individuals in the facility is endangered as documented by a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner. The full Senate approved the bill, the House concurred in the Senate committee substitute and it has now been presented to the Governor.
HB 678, Pilot Release of Inmates to Adult Care Homes (Lewis Sponsor). HB 678 seeks to establish a pilot program to allow certain inmates released from confinement to be placed in an Adult Care Home (only the inmates selected for the pilot will reside in the facility) to receive Personal Care Services and Medication Management. HB 678 was approved by the Senate and ratified by the House, and has now been presented to the Governor.
HB 736, Amend Law re: School Discipline (Langdon, Luebke, Daughtry, Lucas Sponsors). HB 736 seeks to make a number of changes to Chapter 115C regarding school discipline with the goal of keeping students in school. It is a consensus bill supported by Disability Rights NC that numerous entities representing schools and students contributed to. The conference committee appointed on the bill agreed to incorporate the Corporal Punishment opt-out language of SB 498 into HB 736. To avoid any confusion regarding the new 115C section numbers, the bill also specifies that if Senate Bill 498 becomes law, then that act is repealed. The House and the Senate approved the conference committee report and the bill has now been presented to the Governor.
HB 773, Studies Act of 2011 (Johnson, Murry, McGee, Starnes, Dockham Sponsors). The Senate approved a committee substitute for the study bill but the House did not concur. A conference committee was appointed but did not have time to meet in the rush of the end of the session. However, they may take up the bill during the special session beginning July 13. The current version contains numerous items that may be studied that are relevant to people with disabilities, including: criminal defendants who lacks the capacity to proceed to trial; in home and community based mental health services for youth; a bill of rights for children who are deaf or hearing impaired; a revised process for collecting data to develop a waiting list of persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities; a pilot program to evaluate the costs, quality, consumer satisfaction, and patient outcomes of a program that supports individuals who are in an adult or family care home and who want to move back into independent supported housing; short and intermediate term options for improving economies and efficiencies in the provision of aid and services under the Medicaid plan with respect to services for Medicaid beneficiaries requiring long term care services, including beneficiaries who are aged, blind, and disabled, and those dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. Again, the bill has not yet been approved, and, even when it has been, there is no guarantee that any of these issues will be studied.
HB 808, Revise Laws on Adult Care Homes (Burr). HB 808 seeks to waive annual inspections of Adult Care Homes that achieve the highest rating, and to develop an informal dispute resolution procedure that allows Adult Care Homes to dispute cited inspection deficiencies. The full Senate approved the bill last week, the House concurred in the Senate committee substitute, and it has now been presented to the Governor.
SB 8, No Cap on Number of Charter Schools (Stevens sponsor). This bill eliminates the existing cap of 100 charter schools. This bill has been in conference between the House and Senate for the past 2 months. The conference committee reported in this week. The legislation now simply lifts the cap on charter schools. The compromise agreement removes the current limit of 100 charters and allows existing schools to increase annual enrollment by 20 percent. The conference report scraps some of the more controversial provisions - including one that would have granted broader authority to an independent charter board to approve new schools. The latest version also no longer requires charters to provide transportation or free and reduced lunches to low-income students. The Governor signed the bill into law last week and it is now Session Law 2011 164.
SB 375, Facilitate Statewide Health Info. Exchange (Stein and Brunstetter Sponsors). SB 375 seeks to set up a statewide health information exchange network. The framework proposed is to facilitate the exchange of healthcare information among covered healthcare providers within the confines of HIPAA. It allows individuals the right to opt out if they so choose. The provisions proposed only apply to protected health information disclosed within the Health Information Exchange. A House committee substitute was approved last week, which added a requirement for individual notice of the right to opt out (not just public notice). The Senate concurred in the House committee substitute and the bill has been presented to the Governor.
SB 394, Clarify Process/Reportable Offenses in Schools (Newton, Tillman, Preston Sponsors). SB 394 seeks to amend the statute (115C-288(g)) regarding principal reporting of certain acts to law enforcement. It proposes to change the standard from a principal’s “personal knowledge or actual notice from school personnel” to “reasonable belief” (which is further defined) that a specified act has occurred on school property. It also provides that the State Board of Education shall not require the principal to report to law enforcements acts in addition to those required in the statute. Last week, SB 394 was approved by the House, ratified by the Senate, and presented to the Governor.
SB 397, Expunge Nonviolent Offense by Minor (Berger, McKissick, Daniel Sponsors). SB 397 will allow the expunction of criminal records for certain offenses for first offenders who are under 18 years of age at the time of the commission of a nonviolent felony. Last week, a House committee substitute was approved by the House, the Senate concurred in the committee substitute, and the bill has been presented to the Governor.
SB 437 Enact First Evaluation Program (Hartsell Sponsor). SB 437 seeks to codify a practice that has been piloted that allows the Secretary to waive the requirements for a physician or eligible psychologist to perform the initial examination for involuntary commitment and substitute a licensed clinical social worker, a master's level psychiatric nurse, or a master's level certified clinical addictions specialist at the request of an LME. When making and considering the request, certain criteria must be addressed. A House committee substitute was approved by the House last week; the Senate concurred in the Senate committee substitute; and the bill has been presented to the Governor.
SB 449, Task Force on Fraud Against Older Adults (Bingham Sponsor). SB 449 directs the Consumer Protection Division of the NC Department of Justice, to coordinate a task force on fraud against older adults, as recommended by the North Carolina Study Commission on Aging. The bill was approved by the House and ratified by the Senate last week, and it has now been presented to the Governor.
SB 474, Photo ID for Certain Controlled Substances (Apodaca, Hise Sponsors). SB 374 seeks to direct pharmacies to require photo identification prior to dispensing any Schedule II and certain Schedule III Controlled Substances. A committee substitute was passed by the House last week; the Senate concurred; and the bill has been presented to the Governor.
SB 479, Testing in the Public Schools (Tillman, Preston, Soucek Sponsors). SB 479 seeks to implement several additional components of the state’s testing of public school students: continued participation in the development of the Common Core State Standards in conjunction with the consortium of other states, including implementing the assessments that the State Board deems most appropriate to assess student achievement on the Common Core State Standards; to the extent funds are made available, the State Board shall plan for and require the administration of the ACT test for all students in the eleventh grade unless the student has already taken a comparable test and scored at or above a level set by the State Board, as well as diagnostic tests in the eighth and tenth grades that align to the ACT test in order to help diagnose student learning and provide for students an indication of whether they are on track to be remediation free at a community college or university; and to the extent funds are made available for this purpose, the State Board shall plan for and require local school administrative units to make available the appropriate WorkKeys tests for all students who complete the second level of vocational/career courses. A committee substitute was approved by the House last week; the Senate concurred; and the bill has been presented to the Governor.
SB 496, now known as Medicaid and Health Choice Provider Req (was PPACA/Required Fraud and Abuse Provisions) (Pate Sponsor). SB 496 seeks to implement screening for Medicaid and Health Choice providers, identifying providers of certain types of services as low, moderate or high risk. It also provides for criminal history record checks for certain providers. It also amends the procedures for changing medical policies. Last week, the House approved a committee substitute; the Senate concurred; and the bill has been referred to the Governor.
SB 498, Modify Law re: Corporal Punishment (Pate, Purcell Sponsors). SB 498 would allow parents to opt their child out of a school’s corporal punishment policy. An amendment to the bill was adopted in the House that added language stating that the form given to parents shall advise that the student may be subject to suspension, among other possible punishments, for offenses that would otherwise not require suspension if corporal punishment were available. Although the bill was approved by both the House and the Senate, the approved language was incorporated into the school discipline bill mentioned above, which also directed the repeal of this bill if enacted.
SB 578, Facilitate Transfer SPH Beds Com. Facility (Hartsell) was formerly titled “LME Minimum Population.” SB 578 now seeks to allow the Secretary of DHHS to transfer beds from a State psychiatric hospital to a community facility without a written memorandum of agreement between the local management entity serving the county where the beds are to be located and the facility submitting the proposal if certain conditions are met, including that the facility submits a CON application, the facility commits to serve the type of short term patients normally placed at the State psychiatric hospital, the facility proposing to operate the beds is a provider created under G.S. 131E 17 and the facility proposing to operate the beds is in a single county area authority. The bill is intended to fix an issue in the Mecklenburg catchment area that has prevented the transfer of beds from Broughton to the Carolinas Medical Center (the beds at Broughton are un-staffed so this will not decrease, but rather increase, available beds). It was approved by the House last week, ratified by the Senate, and has been presented to the Governor.
SB597 (Purcell) BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR MILITARY/FUNDS. SB 597 would require LMEs and schools to make certain staffing and procedural changes to ensure care for members of the military, veterans, and their families, whose care is funded through federal programs is coordinated appropriately. The bill was approved by the House, ratified by the Senate and presented to the Governor. It was signed into law this week and is SL2011-0185.
SB 607, Conform Medical Record Laws (Stein). SB 607 seeks to amend various sections in the General Statutes to make it easier to share currently protected health information, including a provision seeking to revise exceptions to confidentiality under 122C, which covers MH/DD/SA service providers. The House approved a committee substitute last week that the Senate concurred with. It has been presented to the Governor. The House committee substitute strengthened the language in the 122C section to add the client’s legally responsible person and to add that the person may object in writing or sign a non disclosure form that shall be supplied by the facility.
SB 683, Residential Building Inspections (Hunt Sponsor). SB 683 seeks to limit the allowable periodic building inspections only when there is reasonable cause to believe that unsafe, unsanitary, or otherwise hazardous or unlawful conditions may exist in a residential building. It was approved by the Senate and the House, and has been presented to the Governor.
SB 781, Regulatory Reform Act of 2011 (Rouzer and H. Brown, Sponsors). SB 781 amends Chapter 150B of the NC general statutes to add requirements for agencies in rulemaking, and analysis of the fiscal impact of rules. It also incorporates changes regarding final agency decision-making authority supported by Disability Rights NC. It was approved by the House and Senate and has been sent to the Governor.