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News & Press: Updates for Members

North Carolina Legislative Update: Elections Bill Signed into Law and Second Chances

Friday, June 12, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kay Castillo
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Legislators worked to move a lot of bills this past week, including House Bill 1169 Bipartisan Elections Act of 2020 which updates elections laws in anticipation of more absentee ballot use this fall. The bill was signed into law on Friday, June 12. With so many bills on the move, we anticipate session will likely last three to four more weeks and no statewide budget will be passed; only mini budget bills.

Earlier this week, legislators resurfaced second chance legislation. This bill makes it easier to expunge most misdemeanors that happen after December 1, 2019. It does not apply to violent crimes, crimes that result in registration as a sex offender, or impaired driving. Additionally, the bill expunges certain records of minors. This bill passed the Senate in the 2019 long session but was not taken up in the House. On June 9, the House quickly took up and passed Senate Bill 562 Second Chance Act with a vote of 119-0. The bill goes back to the Senate for a concurrence vote before heading to the Governor. The House also took up House Bill 511 North Carolina First Step Act, which allows judges to use flexibility in sentencing of drug offenses. Individuals serving time for some drug trafficking offenses could petition to have their sentences reduced. The House and Senate will appoint a conference committee to work out their differences on the bill. 

Other bills of interest

HB 1048 CPS Intake Screening: This bill prohibits local county departments of social services from developing their own screening criteria that is different from the state’s. Additionally, the bill requires the state Department of Health and Human Services to develop and implement a rapid consultation system to provide consultation to counties when making decisions regarding the safety of children. Part of this system would require, upon receiving a request, Division staff to consult with the county department of social services within 24 hours of receipt of the request and at least two Division staff workers to consult on each call to ensure the advice conveyed is consistent. The bill passed the House with a vote of 119-0 and heads to the Senate.

SB 808 Medicaid Funding Act: This bill provides various funding to the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill would provide funds to restart Medicaid Transformation efforts. Additionally, the bill provides $50,000,000 to fund behavioral health and crisis services in response to COVID-19, changes Medicaid Transformation’s implementation date to July 1, 2021, and provides $4,000,000 to groups that have been awarded contracts to provide Medicaid services under the Standard Plans if the July 1, 2021 deadline cannot be met. The bill passed two Senate committees and has one more to pass before going to the Senate floor for a vote.

SB 730 No Patient Left Alone Act: This legislation would allow one family member who passes COVID-19 screening to be with a patient in the hospital- both for minors and adult patients. The bill has two more Senate committees to clear before heading to the floor for a vote.

Other policy news

This week, Governor Cooper announced Executive Order 145 addressing Criminal Justice Reform. The Executive Order creates the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice. This will be an advisory task force with the mission to develop and help implement solutions that will eliminate disparate outcomes in the criminal justice system for communities of color.

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