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News & Press: Updates for Members

North Carolina Legislative Session Update: Elections Bill Passes House

Friday, May 29, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kay Castillo
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Legislators are starting to pick up work with more committee meetings and hearing bills after a slow start to the legislative session in mid-May. The filing deadline for bills was the day after Memorial Day and though many were filed, not many will make it through with such a quick legislative session anticipated and a bleak budget forecast.

Bills of interest that were filed

SB 775 Funds/Establish Black Women and Girls Task Force: This bill establishes a thirteen-member task force that includes legislators and grassroots advocacy nonprofits that serve black women and girls. The task force will study the health and wealth disparities of black women and their impact, review educational justice principals for black girls and the impact of trauma to learning, research all forms of violence to and on black women and girls, consider the impact of the criminal and juvenile justice system on black women and girls, and examine the effect of political advocacy and engagement, employment, and healthcare, especially in the context of disparate impacts of COVID-19, cancer, stress disorders, high blood pressure, maternal morbidity and infant mortality, reproduction, and other disparate health factors. The Task Force will make reports and recommended legislation to the General Assembly.

SB 844/HB 1206 Student Mental Health Well-Being/COVID-19: This bill would provide funds to increase school’s mental health support staff and bring these staff positions more in line with statewide recommended ratios. For school social workers, the bill would increase the ratio to one school social worker per 400 students. While NASW’s recommended ratio is one school social worker per 250 students, this bill would go a long way in increasing North Carolina’s ratio which was one school social worker per 1,427 students in 2018.

SB 845 Successful Transition/Foster Care Youth: This bill would provide $500,000 to fund the Foster Care Transitional Living Initiative Fund to support youth transitioning from foster care.

HB 1181 Certain Appropriations for Education/COVID: This bipartisan bill includes various funds for education including $25 million to support school support personnel such as school social workers. Further funds are allocated for Wi-Fi, computers and other electronic devices, and more to support schools amidst the current pandemic. 

HB 1192 Student Health Collaborative Pilot: This bill establishes a one-year student health collaborative pilot program. The Division of Social Services, in collaboration with the Department of Public Instruction and the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services, shall implement the pilot program by developing criteria that award grants to county departments of social services and public school units to collaborate in assisting students with their mental and physical well-being while in public school settings. Counties receiving a grant for a student health collaborative shall establish a team of individuals to provide students with a variety of supports based on students' needs ranging from dropout prevention services to providing access to community resources, such as food and nutrition services or Medicaid. The bill recommends school support staff and behavioral health professionals be involved with the collaborative.

HB 1214 Department of Health and Human Services Revisions: This bill makes a lot of technical changes at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill updates the definition of developmental disability to include a severe, chronic disability of a person that is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments.

HB 1229 Unemployment Insurance Program Integrity: This bill would allow a temporary reprieve from work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents. Current law requires individuals without dependents to work or participate in a work training program for at least 80 hours a month or they risk losing their benefits. The requirement would be dropped until July 1, 2021.

Bills with Action

SB 476 School Based Mental Health: This bill directs the State Board of Education to adopt a school-based mental health policy that applies to K-12 schools. The policy must address youth mental health; suicide prevention; substance misuse; sexual abuse prevention; sex trafficking prevention; and teenage dating violence. The policy must include training for any staff that works with students in the school system and include a model suicide risk referral protocol. This bill went through committees during the 2019 legislative session. Legislators wanted more time to work on the bill, so it was assigned to a conference committee and worked on with a few legislators. The final bill, worked out by the assigned conference committee, was presented this past week and passed both the House and the Senate before being sent to the Governor to sign into law.

SB 717 Military Occupational Licensure: This bill requires licensing boards to provide an expedited license to a military member or military spouse within seven days of receiving the application. Currently, the social work licensure board issues temporary licensure to military members or their spouse. The bill passed committee this week and will head to the floor for a vote next week.

HB 1169 Bipartisan Elections Act of 2020: This bill seeks to make major changes to the state’s voting laws for the November 2020 elections in light of the Coronavirus. The changes come as it is anticipated that more people will be requesting absentee ballots than in past elections. While the bill does many things, some of the highlights include removing the requirement for two witnesses to sign an absentee ballot and require one witness instead. Voters could request an absentee ballot by email or fax. Additionally, all absentee ballots would be tracked so voters could keep up with where their absentee ballots are once they submit them. The bill also requires the State Board of Elections and the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a program that allows teams to assist registered voters in congregate living facilities. The bill expands IDs that can be used for the election should voter ID be put in place by a judge for the November election. The bill passed the House on Thursday with a vote of 116-3. It now goes before the Senate for a hearing and vote.

Take Action!

Contact your legislators to keep reimbursement for telehealth services! 

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