See below for some brief updates on bills related to people with disabilities. Committees are still meeting so we expect to continue at a fast and furious pace on policy legislation until budget and tax reform issues are resolved. WRAL just did a great piece on the status of some pieces of big legislation that remain outstanding, including Voter ID.
HB 29, Methemphetamine/Offense/Penalties (Horn, Faircloth, Tolson, Stevens). HB 29 provides enhanced penalties for the offense of manufacturing methamphetamine when a child, person with a disability or elder resides or was present at the property used for the manufacturing. HB 29 passed both chambers and was signed into law on June 19th, S.L. 2013-124. It becomes effective December 1, 2013, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.
HB 68 (Torbett), Establish Ombudsman/Foster Care/ Gaston County, seeks to establish a pilot ombudsman program for children in foster care in Gaston County. It was approved by the full Senate on June 12th and signed into law by the Governor on June 13, S.L. 2013-111. It was effective when signed and expires July 1, 2015.
HB 317, Improve Education for Children Who Are Deaf (Blackwell, Farmer-Butterfield, Holloway, Martin). HB 317 mandates assessment and consideration of language and communication needs of children who are deaf or hard of hearing; ensures that personnel who are highly qualified in the education of children who are deaf or hard of hearing are available to meet the unique needs of each child, including interactions in the child's language and communication modality to meet academic and social goals; and directs DPI to develop and implement strategies to ensure that parents of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing know they are entitled to request that the child's IEP team consider placement of their child in a residential setting and, if such a request is made, that a representative from one of the two North Carolina residential/day program schools for the deaf shall be a member of the IEP team. HB 317 was signed into law on June 19 and is Session Law 2013-119. It became effective when signed into law.
HB 392, Share Arrest Warrant Status/Public Assistance (Arp, Horn, Starnes, Burr). HB 392 directs local DSS, on a voluntary basis, to verify through a criminal background check whether an applicant or recipient is (i) fleeing to avoid prosecution, custody, or confinement after a felony conviction, or (ii) violating a condition of probation or parole imposed under federal or State law. The background check may be done by utilizing all currently accessible databases to the extent permitted by allocated county and state resources, and the bill explicitly states that counties are not required to allocate funds for the program. The bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary I committee last week and has been referred to the Senate Health committee.
HB 533, Detention of Mentally Ill in Facility (Jordan). HB 533 applies to Ashe, Cumberland, and Wilkes Counties only. It amends NCGS 122C-251 regarding transportation for involuntary commitment proceedings to allow hospital police to keep patients at the hospital if law enforcement has left the facility. Specifically, the bill states that if the law enforcement officer vacates the facility after finding, in collaboration with the facility, that the respondent is safe to be temporarily detained under the appropriate supervision provided by the facility, an employee commissioned under G.S. 74E-2(b) who is employed by a hospital certified under G.S. 74E-2(b) may use appropriate and reasonable force and means to (i) keep the respondent at the facility where the respondent is to be detained and (ii) if pursuant to a continuous and immediate pursuit, to return the respondent to the facility where the respondent is to be detained. This subsection applies when the respondent is being temporarily detained in accordance with G.S. 122C-261(d), 122C-263(a), and 122C-263(d)(2). HB 533 was signed by the Governor on June 18 and is Session Law 2013-114
HB 543, Guardianship Roles of MH/DD/SA Providers (Jones, Avila, Glazier, Turner). HB 543 passed the full Senate on June 17. The House sponsors did not agree with changes made to the bill in the Senate, and the bill has been sent to a conference committee to work out the differences. House conferees are Jones, Avila, Turner and Glazier. Senate conferees have not yet been appointed.
HB 587, Alternate ACT/Plan for Certain Students (Whitmire, Holloway, Blackwell, Glazier). HB 587 amends NCGS 115C-174.11(c)(4) regarding the administration of the ACT test for students to require the administration of an alternate to the ACT or an alternate to the PLAN precursor test to the ACT to a student who (i) exhibits severe and pervasive delays in all areas of conceptual, linguistic, and academic development and in adaptive behaviors, including communication, daily living skills, and self-care, (ii) is following the extended content standards of the Standard Course of Study as provided in G.S. 115C-81, or is following a course of study that, upon completing high school, may not lead to admission into a college-level course of study resulting in a college degree, and (iii) has a written parental request for an alternate assessment. The State Board of Education shall ensure that parents of students enrolled in all public schools, including charter and regional schools, have the necessary information to make informed decisions regarding participation in the ACT and the PLAN precursor test to the ACT. Additionally, alternate assessment and ACT assessment results of students with disabilities shall be included in school accountability reports, including charter and regional schools, provided by the State Board of Education. HB 587 has passed the Senate and was presented to the Governor last week.
HB 725, Young Offenders Rehabilitation Act (Avila, Moffitt, Mobley, Hall). HB 725 seeks to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18-years-old for misdemeanors. The bill takes effect over the next four years: 16-year-olds charged with misdemeanors would be placed in the juvenile system in 2016 and 17-year-olds in 2017. The bill was approved by the Judiciary A committee and has been referred to the Appropriations committee.
HB 831, Educational Services for Children in PRTFs (Avila, Johnson, Glazier). HB 831 seeks to allocate funds to PRTFs for educational services. It was approved by the House Education committee last week and has been referred to the Appropriations committee.
SB 542, Drug Testing for LTC Applicants and Employees (Cook, Jackson, Rabin). SB 542 would require Adult Care Homes and nursing homes to require applicants for employment and certain employees to submit to drug testing for controlled substances. It was signed by the Governor on June 19th and is Session Law 2013-167.
SB 663, Blue Ribbon Commission Recs/Supportive MH Housing (Hise). SB 663 would implement the recommendations of the Housing Subcommittee of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Transitions to Community Living to require DHHS to establish a Supportive Housing Program and to create a Transitions to Community Living Housing Budget within the Transitions to Community Living Fund to integrate individuals with Mental Illness into Community-Based Supported Housing. It was approved by the full House and awaits a hearing in the House Health committee.