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News & Press: Updates for Members

NASW-NC Legislative Update: Budget and Social Work Bill Update, Medicaid Transformation Pushback

Wednesday, September 4, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kay Castillo
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Budget impasse continues

With no movement on the state budget, legislators began passing pieces of the budget individually last week. Legislators will take the rest of the week off and will be back next week.

Senate Bill 537 Social Work Licensure Update

NASW-NC will continue to advocate for Senate Bill 537 which makes changes to the social work statute. The bill is currently being worked on by an appointed Conference Committee of House and Senate members. We spoke with every member of the Conference Committee last week explaining the importance of the Social Work Licensure portion of the bill and how detrimental it would be to the social work profession if not passed. No other group is advocating for social workers at the North Carolina Legislature. This is why your NASW membership is critical to our success!


The following bills were worked on by legislators at the North Carolina General Assembly last week:

HB 555 Medicaid Transformation Implementation
The state had planned to go live with Medicaid Transformation starting November 1 in certain regions. However, in order to see it through, money needed to be allocated as soon as possible. The bill would have provided $250 million in funds to implement Medicaid Transformation. The bill passed the House and the Senate but was vetoed by Governor Cooper on Friday. See the update below on what will happen with Medicaid Transformation now!

HB 226 Pay Increases/ State Employees
This bill raises State-funded employee’s salary by 2.5%, with exceptions to employees of the University of North Carolina, local community college employees, employees of local boards of education, employees of schools operated by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Public Safety, and the State Board of Education who are paid based on the Teacher Salary Schedule. The pay raises last for the duration of the 2019-2020 fiscal year as well as 2020-2021. The bill passed unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Cooper on Friday. 

HB 609 Salary Increases/ Adult Correctional Employees
This bill raises the salary of State employees in adult correctional facilities by 2.5% for the 2019-2020 year as well as the 2020-2021 year. Part-time employees would receive a prorated increase. The bill passed unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Cooper on Friday.


HB 511 North Carolina First Step Act
This bill would allow for a sentencing court to use discretion when sentencing for drug trafficking offenses instead of adhering to present minimum and maximum sentencing mandates. It would also allow for a person sentenced with a trafficking offense to file a motion to have their sentence modified and be released on post-release supervision if they meet certain conditions. If passed, this legislation would go into effect on December 1, 2019. The bill is currently being worked on in Senate Judiciary Committee.   

SB 683 Combat Absentee Ballot Fraud
This bill would restore the last Saturday of absentee voting, provide pre-paid postage for absentee ballots that are mailed in for elections in 2020, require requests for absentee ballots be completed and returned by the requestor and with photo identification attached, and it would enhance the penalties for fraud among absentee ballots, as well as create new crimes for selling completed request forms or receiving payment based on the number of forms returned. If passed, this law would take effect on January 1, 2020, except for the creation of new crimes, which would take effect on December 1, 2019. SB 683 passed the House last week with a vote of 112-1.


Update on upcoming elections

Early Voting Ends This Friday, September 6 for the Special Elections in Congressional District 9 and parts of Congressional District 3! Election Day is September 10. **As of September 3, Onslow County Board of Elections canceled early voting on Thursday, September 5, and Friday, September 6, due to Hurricane Dorian.


We have not heard how the North Carolina State Board of Elections will be handling the election after Hurricane Dorian makes landfall and its potential impact on Election Day.


Find your One-Stop Early Voting location here:


Need more info? Click here for an info sheet on the Congressional House District 3 Special Election and click here for an info sheet on the Congressional House District 9 Special Election.


Our friends at Disability Rights North Carolina are producing fully accessible voter guides for the upcoming elections through the 2020 general election. The first in this series, for the Congressional District 9 special election, is complete and available on the website.


Voter ID requirements will NOT be in effect for this special election. Click here for more info!


Remember: it is in our Code of Ethics to be politically engaged, so if you live in one of these districts, GET OUT THE VOTE! 


Medicaid Transformation News

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will extend open enrollment for Medicaid beneficiaries and move to a statewide transition to managed care on February 1, 2020. 


Managed care was scheduled to roll out in two phases, with part of the state beginning managed care services on November 1, 2019 and most of the state beginning on February 1, 2020. On September 3rd, DHHS announced managed care will now go-live in one phase for the whole state beginning on February 1, 2020.


The timeline has been adjusted because DHHS cannot implement critical actions to go-live with managed care under the current continuing resolution budget. The updated timeline only impacts counties that were in Phase 1; it does not impact counties that were scheduled for Phase 2. The date of February 1, 2020 for statewide implementation remains unchanged.


More details are outlined in an announcement shared this week can be found here.  


DHHS will continue to move forward on activities that are not tied to budget action, including supporting open enrollment. We urge all stakeholders to do the same and continue to work towards the February 1, 2020 implementation date.


The 27 counties where open enrollment will be extended include: Alamance, Alleghany, Ashe, Caswell, Chatham, Durham, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Franklin, Granville, Guilford, Johnston, Nash, Orange, Person, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Vance, Wake, Warren, Watauga, Wilkes, Wilson and Yadkin counties.


Judges Rule on Gerrymandered Maps

On Tuesday, September 4, 2019, a three-judge panel ruled that legislators needed to redraw legislative maps after finding them overly partisan. Legislators have two weeks to draw the new maps for the 2020 elections. Read more from WRAL! This is HUGE news for North Carolinians. NASW-NC is in favor of independently drawn, nonpartisan maps. Learn more about this decision from NC House Representative and social worker (and NASW-NC member) Graig Meyer.

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