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News & Press: Updates for Members

NASW-NC Legislative Update: Wrap Up on the Horizon

Friday, June 19, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kay Castillo
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Legislators buckled down on bills and moved as many as possible this past week, even holding a rare Friday session to get through work. Legislators announced they would like to wrap up the legislative session by June 26 but might go into another week if necessary.

Legislators continue to move bills to reopen various businesses which have been closed due to COVID-19. On Friday, Governor Cooper vetoed one such bill which sought to reopen gyms and bars. Legislators will likely return the end of July or early August to take up potential veto overrides. They will also use this time to pass more budget related bills as the state will have more of a budget insight from taxes filed since the deadline to file was pushed to July 15.

Bills of interest to social workers:

SB 808 Medicaid Funding Act: This bill provides various funding measures 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. This legislation passed the Senate with a vote of 43-5 and was sent to the House. 

SB 708 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. This bill passed the Senate and will head to the House.

HB 918 Expedite Permanency/DHHS Report SNAP/TANF: This bill is intended to expedite permanency for children in foster care. If it is determined that a youth cannot return home, the youth will be placed in a safe, permanent home within one year from the date of the initial order removing custody. The bill also creates an aggravating circumstance for the exposure of unlawful controlled substances or alcohol in utero. This bill passed the House last session and the Senate has made a few tweaks to the bill. If the Senate passes the bill, it will have to go back to the House for a concurrence vote. It is scheduled to be heard in the Senate soon. NASW-NC is OPPOSED to this bill.

We are concerned that a law like this would prevent pregnant women from seeking needed substance misuse treatment- before and after pregnancy. Additionally, a lack of access to treatment will further complicate reunification efforts. Please contact your NC Senator Monday to let them know you are opposed to HB 918!

SB 818 Compensation of Certain School Employees: This bill provides a one-time bonus of $350 to teachers. The bill encourages (but does not require) the Governor to allocate funds from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund to provide a one-time bonus of $600 to teachers, instructional support personnel, and noncertified personnel. This bill passed the House and Senate and was presented to the Governor to sign into law.

HB 511 North Carolina First Step Act: This bill allows for judicial discretion in sentencing for drug trafficking offenses. The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously and was sent to the Governor to sign into law.

SB 562 The Second Chance Act: This bill makes changes to expunction laws, making 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. The bill passed both the House and the Senate unanimously and was sent to the Governor to sign into law.


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