Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Post-Session Bill Summaries: Criminal and Juvenile Justice

Legislation Related to Criminal Law and Juvenile Justice Issues

HB 217, Criminal Law/Procedure Amendments (Faircloth, Stam). HB 217 would take the discretion away from judges and give to prosecutors the power to transfer 15-year-olds charged with B1 and B2 felonies to Superior Court to be tried as adults. The bill was approved by the full House, but was not taken up in the Senate.

HB 350, Court Improvement Project Juvenile Law Changes (Jordan, C. Graham). HB 350 proposes various changes to the juvenile code as proposed by the Court Improvement Project. It was signed by the Governor on June 19 and is Session Law 2013-129.

HB 385, Youth Accountability Task Force (S. Stevens).  HB 385 seeks to establish the Youth Accountability Planning Task Force in the Division of Juvenile Justice, Department of Public Safety and to Appropriate Funds for a Pilot Transitional Housing Program. The Task Force would study educational services by Juvenile Justice, including the best structure for delivering the services, whether they provide adequate vocational training for the population; the adequacy of transitional housing for delinquent juveniles exiting youth development centers and the feasibility of providing transitional housing for juveniles exiting youth development centers with children transitioning from foster care to independent housing; whether the Tarheel Challenge program operated by the North Carolina National Guard should be expanded so that the program can be an alternative for all juvenile dispositional levels; the feasibility of providing tuition waivers in the Community College System for juveniles committed to youth development centers and in postrelease supervision status; and the adequacy of dispositional options available to Juvenile Court for status offenders.  The bill also seeks $650,000 per year to implement a pilot program for transitional housing for juveniles exiting youth development centers.  It was approved by the House Judiciary C committee and referred to Appropriations but did not proceed or make it into the budget

HB 392, Share Arrest Warrant Status/Public Assistance (Arp, Horn, Starnes, Burr). HB 392 directs local DSS 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 also calls for drug screening for Work First program assistance when a reasonable suspicion of drug use exists, and provides that an applicant or recipient is not eligible to receive benefits upon a positive screen.  This last section does not become effective until 2014.  As of the date of this report, the Governor has not signed this legislation.

HB 585, PREA Compliance (Lewis). HB 585 directs all correctional facilities in the state prison system to comply with the provisions of the Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. As originally filed, HB 585 included local county facilities.  That provision was removed in the House but a policy for local county facilities to comply was added back in the Senate Judiciary committee.  Unfortunately, the bill did not move forward and the bill itself was used for the budget Continuing Resolution, so it will not be returning in this bill next year.

HB722, Capital Procedure/Severe Disability (Stam, McGrady, Stevens, Jordan). HB 722 seeks to amend the capital trial, sentencing, and post-conviction procedures for individuals with a severe mental disability who have been accused of a capital offense. HB 722 is a Disability Rights NC agenda bill. It was approved by the House Judiciary B subcommittee but was never heard by the full House.  As the bill has an appropriation, it is eligible for the short session.

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 would not take effect until 2019. Representative Avila made a valiant effort to pass the bill through the House before the end of session.  The bill did receive a favorable vote on 2d reading on the last day of session but remains on the calendar for 3d reading for the short session.

SB 45, Incapacity to Proceed (Randleman). SB 45 amends the state laws related to procedures for a defendant who does not have the mental capacity to proceed in a trial for a crime for which she is accused.  The bill allows for dismissal of charges when it appears that the defendant will not gain capacity to proceed, or when the defendant has been confined or committed for a period of time equal to or in excess of the maximum permissible period of confinement for the crime or crimes charged.  It also directs that the facility that performs the mental examination include treatment recommendations in the report submitted to the clerk; directs that a defendant who has been determined incapable to proceed and subject to civil commitment shall not be discharged from the hospital or outpatient commitment until again examined for capacity to proceed and a report filed with the clerk; and directs the Commission for MH/DD/SAS to adopt rules to require forensic evaluators to meet certain requirements, and to adopt guidelines for the treatment of individuals who are involuntarily committed following a determination of incapacity to proceed.  The bill was signed by the Governor on April 3 and is Session Law 2013-18.  Most of the bill, including the section pertaining to the dismissal of charges, becomes effective December 1, 2013, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.

SB 91, Prohibit Expunction Inquiry (Daniel, Goolsby, Kinnaird).  SB 91 would prohibit an employer or educational institution from requiring an applicant for employment or admission to disclose information concerning any arrest, criminal charge, or criminal conviction of the applicant that has been expunged; clarifies the law pertaining to administrative action that may be taken by an occupational licensing board as a result of expunged charges or convictions; and requires state and local agencies to advise applicants that they are not required to disclose information relating to an arrest, charge or convictions that has been expunged.  It was signed by the Governor on May 17, 2013 and is S.L. 2013- 53.

Post-Session Bill Summaries: Legislation Related to Abuse and Neglecto

Legislation Related to Abuse and Neglect

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, Establish Ombudsman/Foster Care/ Gaston County (Torbett). HB 68 establishes 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 510, Foster Care Children's Bill off Rights (Cotham, Hardister, Avila, Jackson). HB 510 sets out the state policy for the rights of children in foster care.  It was signed by the Governor on July 23, 2013 and is S.L. 2013-326.

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 670, DSS Study/Extend Foster Care to Age 21 (House Rules committee).  HB 670 directs DSS to study extending the foster care age to 21.  It was included in the House study bill that never passed the full chamber.

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.

HB 891, Exploitation of Seniors/Freeze Defendant's Assets (Glazier, McGrady, Insko, Baskerville).  HB 891 allows the district attorney to petition the Court to freeze the assets of a defendant charged with financial exploitation of an elder adult or disabled adult. It was signed by the Governor on June 26, 2013 and is S.L. 2013-203.   

SB 140, Financial Exploitation of Older Adults (Bingham). SB 140 makes several changes to the law to increase the recognition, reporting, and prosecution of those who defraud or financially exploit older adults, and to continue the Task Force on Fraud Against Older Adults. It was signed by the Governor on July 23, 2013 and is S.L. 2013-337.

Post-Session Bill Summaries - Education Related Legislation

Education-Related Legislation

HB 235, Parents Consent Required to Quit School (Lambeth, Whitmire, Brandon, Ramsey)/SB 313 (Parmon, Robinson).  HB 235 would require children to attend school until the age of 18 (raised from 16) unless they have graduated or the parent has consented after all of the following have occurred: (i) the child and the child's parent, guardian, or custodian attend a final counseling session at the school, (ii) during that session a statement to encourage the child to remain in school or to pursue educational alternatives is presented to the child and the child's parent, guardian, or custodian, and (iii) the child and the child's parent, guardian, or custodian sign the statement. The statement shall include information regarding the academic skills that the child has not yet achieved, the difference in future earning power between a high school graduate and a high school dropout, and a listing of educational alternatives that are available for the child.  The bill was never heard in committee.

HB 250, Charter School Enrollment and Charter School Revisions (Hardister, Brandon, Stam, Lambeth).  HB 250 provides for enrollment priority and procedures for certain students applying to charter schools. The bill adds language to the current statute regarding admission to direct charter schools, within one year after beginning operation, to make efforts for the population of the school to reasonably reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the general population residing within the school district or the racial and ethnic composition of the special population that the school seeks to serve residing within the district. The school shall be subject to any court-ordered desegregation plan in effect for the local school administrative unit.   It also allows for priority in enrollment for siblings (including foster children residing in the same home); children of employees and children of board of directors up to a limit; and students previously enrolled under certain circumstances.  It also allows charter schools to do the following without prior approval of the State Board: increase enrollment during the second year of operation and annually thereafter by up to 20%; increase enrollment in accordance with planned growth as authorized in the school's charter; or expand to offer one grade higher than the charter school currently offers if the charter school has operated for at least three years and has not been identified as having inadequate performance.  It was signed by the Governor on July 26, 2013 and is S.L. 2013-359.  It applies beginning with the 2013-14 school year.      

HB 269, Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grants (Jordan, Brandon, Jones, Stam). HB 269 seeks to repeal the tax credit for families of children with disabilities who send their children to a non-public school, and, instead, enact a scholarship in the same amount, $3000 per semester, for the reimbursement of tuition and special education and related services, including services provided to home schooled students.   It was signed by the Governor on July 29, 2013 and is S.L. 2013 -364.  It is effective for taxable years beginning January 1, 2014.

HB 273, Charter School/LEA Accounting of Funds (Hardister, Malone, Brandon, Stam).  HB 273 seeks to amend NCGS §115C238.29H(b) to require a detailed accounting and timeline for funds transferred to charter schools, with a penalty of interest if the local school administrative unit does not comply.  The bill was approved by the House but never taken up in the Senate.

HB 287, Increase Dropout Age from 16 to 17 (Lambeth, Moffitt, Brandon, D. Ross).  HB 287 proposed raising the dropout age to 17.  The bill was never heard in committee.

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 452, 2013 School Safety Act (Holloway, Glazier, Faircloth, Lucas)/SB 589 (Stein).  HB 452 was filed in response to the Newtown school shooting and sets out a number of items intended to increase the safety of North Carolina's schools, including one-to-one matching grants for LEAs to hire additional school counselors, social workers and psychologists; two-to-one matching grants to hire SROs in elementary and middle schools; funds for panic alarms and a requirement for school districts to establish an anonymous tip line. The bill was also amended to allow for volunteer school safety resource officer programs to be established by the sheriff or police chief. The bill was approved by the House but never taken up in the Senate.  Portions of the bill were incorporated into the budget, with $7 mil for school resource officers and $2 mil for panic alarms. There is no additional funding for support staff or counseling. The special provisions also allow volunteers to serve as armed guards in public schools.

HB 587, Alternate ACT/Plan for Certain Students (Whitmire, Holloway, Blackwell, Glazier). HB 587 amends the state statute regarding the administration of the ACT 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 , 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.  It was signed by the Governor on June 26, 2013 and is S.L. 2013-208.

HB 588, Public School Report/Flexibility (Whitmire, Langdon, Glazier, Martin).  HB 588 sought to simplify IEP reporting, directing the form for such reporting to limit the requirement for narrative reporting to essential components requiring personalized student information, and whenever practicable, to be in an electronic format.  It passed the House but was not taken up in the Senate.  It is eligible for the short session.

HB 750, Charter School Flexibility/Pilot (Lambeth, Glazier, Hanes).  HB 750 directs the State Board of Education to implement a 5 year pilot program that would provide local boards of education the opportunity to (i) act as the chartering entity of a charter school with the authority to approve and revoke a charter school's charter and (ii) approve the conversion of an existing public school to a charter school.  It was never heard in committee.

HB 838, Exceptional Children's Services/Study (Martin, Horn, Whitmire, Johnson).  HB 838 seeks to establish a commission that would include Disability Rights NC to study the delivery of EC services and oversight by DPI. It was approved by the full House but did not proceed in the Senate. It was incorporated into the Study Bill (SB 172) but that bill was never reported out of committee.

HB 840, Task Force on Deaf Education (Martin, Farmer-Butterfield, Blackwell, Horn).  As originally proposed, HB 840 would have directed a separate Division of Deaf Education within DPI.  However, it was amended in the House to direct a task force instead. The Task Force shall (i) serve as a resource for legislators and State agencies involved in the education of children who are deaf or hearing impaired and (ii) make recommendations to the General Assembly regarding the necessary continuum of educational services, supports, and placements to ensure optimal educational outcomes of children who are deaf or hearing impaired.  It was approved by the full House but not taken up by the Senate.  It could proceed in the short session.

HB 868, Residential School Changes (Farmer-Butterfield, Blackwell, Martin, Tolson). HB 868 makes conforming changes to the state statutes regarding the residential schools.  It repeals unnecessary statutes, and clarifies the operation and oversight of the residential schools.  It was signed by the Governor on July 3, 2013 and is S.L. 2013-247.

HB 935, NC Pre-K Law Changes (Burr, Avila). HB 935 proposed lowering the eligibility standard for NC Pre-K to 130% of the Federal Poverty Line, as funds are available (current eligibility is ~200% of FPL). The bill was approved by the full House but did not proceed in the Senate. The final budget maintains the current NC PreK eligibility requirements.

HB 987, Emergency Stun Gun Use by School Personnel (Riddell, Saine). HB 987 would allow school personnel to carry stun guns on school property. It was never heard in committee.

SB 14, Increase Access to Career/Technical Ed (Tillman, Brown, Soucek).  SB 14 directs the State Board of Education to develop Career and College endorsements for high school Diplomas; increase access to career and technical education teachers; and to work with the State Board of Community Colleges to increase the number of students enrolling in career and technical education in high need employment areas.  It was signed by the Governor on February 18, 2013 and is S.L. 2013-1.

SB 278, Foster Children/Corporal Punishment Changes (Robinson, Barringer, Randleman).  SB 278 seeks to amend the corporal punishment law to exempt children in foster care (such children may not be subject to corporal punishment in their foster care placements).  It was never heard in committee.

SB 337, NC Charter School Advisory Board (Tillman, Soucek).  SB 337 creates the Charter School Advisory Board, which shall be located administratively within the Department of Public Instruction and shall report to the State Board of Education.  The Advisory Board will make recommendations to the State Board of Education on the adoption of rules regarding all aspects of charter school operation, including time lines, standards, and criteria for acceptance and approval of applications, monitoring of charter schools, and grounds for revocation of charters. It was signed into law on July 25, 2013 and is S.L. 2013-355.

SB 361, Excellent Public Schools Act of 2013 (Berger, Tillman, Soucek).  SB 361 is President Pro Tem Berger's education reform plan that would eliminate tenure for teachers, establish pay for performace, and assign another grading system for schools. While the bill itself was not heard in the House, parts of the Act were incorporated into the final budget.