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News & Press: Updates for Members

NASW-NC Legislative Update: Social Work Bill, a Veto, and Health Plans

Monday, August 26, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kay Castillo
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It has been a few weeks since we last updated you on the legislative session, as the legislature has been moving slowly while still at a budget impasse. Legislators announced last week they will start passing mini budgets to help state Departments carry through with new work. Without a state budget, the Department of Public Instruction cannot hire the School Social Work Coordinator position and many local school districts are putting hiring new school social workers on hold until a budget is complete.

 

Social Work Licensure Update
NASW-NC has been working to advance our social work licensure changes under SB 537. This legislation is the new “vehicle” for social work licensure changes. The House passed the bill on August 5th but the Senate did not concur with the changes. So, legislators assigned conference committee members to this bill last week to work out some changes. NASW-NC has contacted every legislator assigned to the conference committee and provided talking points. We will meet in person with these legislators this week as their schedules allow. We are hopeful for a quick conference committee report and hope to see the legislation voted on soon with no changes to our social work licensure portion of the bill.

Other bills of interest:

SB 86 Small Business Health Care Act: This legislation sets up small business health care options. These are often referred to as “junk health plans,” as consumers often don’t know what kind of services they are purchasing. While the plans will be directed to offer pre-existing conditions, they do not have to offer essential health benefits like mental health services. The legislation passed and the bill became law over the weekend without the Governor’s signature due to the bipartisan nature of the bill. NASW-NC and partners will work with the Department of Insurance, who will oversee these plans to advocate for the inclusion of essential benefits.


HB 555 Medicaid Transformation Implementation: This bill was gutted from its original intent to now include needed Medicaid Transformation changes. The state plans to go live with Medicaid Transformation as scheduled (starting in November!). However, in order to see it through, money needs to be allocated as soon as possible. The bill provides $250 million in funds to implement Medicaid Transformation. The bill passed Senate Health and Finance Committees last week and should head to the floor for a vote soon.


HB 918 Amend Abuse Laws/Expedite Permanency: This legislation would expedite the permanency process for child in foster care ages 0-3. The bill passed the Senate Health Committee but faced questions and stalled in Senate Judiciary because of legality. Many advocates, including the Department of Health and Human Services are concerned that it would undermine reunification efforts or split up siblings.


HB 370 Require Cooperation with ICE Detainers: This bill would require sheriffs to cooperate with ICE detainers. The bill passed the House quickly this week and was sent to the Governor. As quickly as it passed the legislature, Governor Cooper vetoed the bill! Given the legislative votes on the original passage, it will be hard to override a veto of this legislation.


HB 74 Taxpayer Refund Act: Last week, legislators announced that the state taxpayers paid more than estimated. As a result, legislators would like to give the money back to the taxpayers- $125 for single filers and $250 for couples filing jointly. It will cost approximately $5 million in administrative funds to send money back to taxpayers. The bill now heads to Senate Rules after passing the Senate Finance Committee.


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