NCGA Week in Review

November 17, 2017

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Legislative oversight meetings continued to meet this week, discussingtopics including reforming the state’s formula for funding public schools,Medicaid transformation, and emergency and disaster preparedness across thestate. Additionally, Special Master Nathan Persily submitted proposed Houseand Senate maps to the three-judge panel as legislative redistrictingcontinues in federal court.

There will not be a newsletter next Friday, November 24. The team atMcGuireWoods Consulting wishes you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving.

Legislative Oversight Committees Meet

Disaster Relief

The House Select Committee on Disaster Relief held their first meeting ofthe interim on Monday. Director of the Division of Emergency ManagementMichael Sprayberryupdatedthe committee on ongoing efforts to provide relief to areas of the statethat have been impacted by natural disasters. Over $300 million wasallocated towards disaster relief throughHB 2: Disaster Recovery Act of 2016andSB 338: Disaster Recovery Act of 2017. Efforts have included:

  • Allocating $435,000 to acquire land outside of a flood plain for the Town of Princeville to redevelop.
  • Awarding a total $8.2 million to ten counties for housing repairs.
  • Allocating $20 million to The Golden L.E.A.F. Foundation for the purpose of providing grants to 23 local governments to construct new-infrastructure.
  • Awarding a total of $5 million to the Rural Economic Development Center, The Carolina Small Business Development Fund and the NC Community Development initiative to make loans to small businesses affected by certain natural disasters.

Education Finance Reform

On Wednesday, the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reformmet to hear apresentationfrom Michael Griffith of the Education Commission of the States. Griffithoverviewed the components of a high-quality school funding system and notedthat, while NC’s current system is equitable, it lacks flexibility fordistricts and is not adaptable to changes in the educational environmentsuch as making considerations for charter schools and virtual education.Griffith then provided an outline of how other states fund schools. WhileGriffith included historical funding models, he noted that in the current“generation” of school funding technology allows the state to ensure thatresources are following the student to provide a more equitable learningenvironment. Finally, Griffith presented some considerations for thecommittee as they continue to look at as they continue the process,including lessons learned from other states.

Emergency Management Oversight

The Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committee metyesterday to hear presentations from law enforcement agencies andassociations from across the state.

First, the committeeheardfrom Special Agent In Charge of the NC State Bureau of Investigations DirkGerman on the NC Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a clearinghousefor information related to terrorism and crime that opened in 2006.

The committee then discussed local law enforcement’s role in emergencymanagement with presentations from theNC Sheriffs’ Associationand theNC Association of Chiefs of Policewho reviewed their policies to respond to both natural and manmadedisasters, including mutual aid agreements with other local law enforcementagencies, training the community to speak up when they find somethingsuspicious and efforts to reduce divisiveness during public demonstrations.

Finally, the committee heard presentations from the UNC GeneralAdministration and Campbell University on safety and security on collegecampuses. The UNC Systemhighlightedregular trainings for campus police on all 16 campuses as well aseffortsto ensure safety during large events that cause specific challenges.Security on private college campuses is similar to that on UNC campuses,according to Campbell University, whohighlightedtheir unique partnership with the Harnett County Sheriffs’ office.

Health & Human Services Oversight

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services meton Tuesday.

First, Director of the Office of Rural Health Maggie Sauerpresentedareporton implementing a telemedicine policy for the state. The Department ofHealth and Human Services (DHHS) believes that telemedicine can improve thehealth of North Carolinians and that implementation should begin by:

  • Requiring Medicaid Managed Care Organizations to incorporate telemedicine into their payment models.
  • Enacting the recommendations of the NC Office of Broadband infrastructure to ensure access of broadband across the state.

The committee then heard from DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen on theDepartment’s strategic plan to address the opioid crisis in NC, herpresentationincluded the following action items:

  • Reducing oversupply of prescription opioids by implementing the STOP Act.
  • Reducing diversion of prescription drugs and flow of illicit drugs.
  • Increasing community awareness and prevention.
  • Making naloxone widely available and link overdose survivors to care by distributing nearly 40,000 units of naloxone.
  • Expanding access to treatment and recovery oriented systems of care.
  • Measuring the state’s impact and revise strategies based on results.

Then, Chief Operating Officer for Technology and Operations Charles Carterprovided the committee with anupdateon the Controlled Substances Reporting System, a statewide reporting systemdesigned to improve the state’s ability to identify people who abuse andmisuse prescription drugs classified as Schedule II-V controlledsubstances. Carter noted that DHHS intends to make improvements to thedatabase including immediate interstate connectivity and Electronic HealthRecord integration with all NC providers.

Deputy Secretary for Health Services Mark Benton followed with areporton the use of the Dorothea Dix Hospital Property Fund to increase licensedinpatient behavioral beds. In 2016, $20 Million was allocated to the fundfrom the sale of the Dorothea Dix property from the state to the City ofRaleigh. Following a competitive bidding process, all of the allocatedfunds have been granted:

  • Of the $2 Million allocated for the construction of facility based crisis beds for children and adolescents:
    • $1 Million has been awarded to Family Preservation, which will open in Buncombe County in March 2018.
    • $1 Million has been awarded to KidsPeace, which will open in Wake County in March 2019.
  • Of the $18 Million allocated for the conversion and construction of licensed short-term, inpatient Behavioral Health Beds:
    • $1.4 Million was awarded to create 10 new beds at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Robeson County.
    • $10 Million was awarded to Duke LifePoint to add 33 beds in Franklin County.
    • $6.5 Million was awarded to Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital in Avery County to add 27 beds.

Finally, Mark Benton presented anupdateon the Adult and Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury Pilot Program. The pilotaims to reduce patient mortality, improve patient recovery and reducelong-term care costs. A Request for Approval to identify a contractor forthe pilot program is in the process of development. Benton additionallyshared an overview of Traumatic Brain Injury, noting that approximately 2%of the population suffers from TBI.

Additionally, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and HumanServices, subcommittee on Aging met today and received apresentationfrom Assistant Secretary for Human Services Michael Beckets and AdultServices Section Chief Joyce Massey-Smith which overviewed the Division ofAging and services available to the aging population. Beckets noted thatNC’s aging population is growing, which presents unique healthcarechallenges. Massey-Smith reviewed the services made available by the stateincluding adult daycare centers, nutrition services and adult guardianshipservices.

Justice & Public Safety Oversight

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety metyesterday.

First, the committee received apresentationfrom NC Justice Academy Director Trevor Allen, who provided an overview ofthe Academy, which was established in 1973 to provide training to state andlocal law enforcement agents.

The committee then discussed the Statewide Misdemeanant Confinement Programwith apresentationfrom Gary Fife of the NC Sheriffs’ Association (NCSA). The program, whichis administrated by NCSA, manages the housing, transportation and medicalexpenses of state inmates convicted of a misdemeanor crime and sentenced toserve more than 90 days in a county jail.

Finally, Chief Counsel for the ABC Commission Renee Metzpresentedto the committee on ABC permit revocation. Permit revocation is rareaccording to Metz, and occurs only in cases where the permit holder makesserious violations including failure to file an audit report or prolificsales to underage customers.

Medicaid & NC Health Choice Oversight

On Wednesday, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid and NCHealth Choice held their second meeting of the interim.

First, Steve Owen of the Fiscal Research DivisionoverviewedMedicaid enrollment, noting that as of October 1, enrollment was 41,748less than budgeted. Owen also overviewed trends in enrollment including:

  • Continually increasing enrollment in the Family Planning category.
  • Decreased enrollment of children.
  • An overall decrease in enrollment in 26 counties across the state.

Deputy Secretary for Medical Assistance Dave Richard followed with aMedicaid and NC Health Choice financialupdate, who noted that expenditures continue to be below budget.

Lastly, Dave Richard and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen provided the committeewith anupdateon the status of the 1115 waiver. DHHS anticipates submitting an amended1115 waiver to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this monthand releasing a Request for Proposal for pre-paid health plans (PHPs)procurement in spring 2018. Sec. Cohen noted that DHHS will establishcapitation rates and PHPs will compete based on their network of providersand ability to provide adequate services.

Legislative Redistricting Continues

On Tuesday,Special Master Nathan Persilysubmitted his proposedplansto redraw the state’s legislative maps, giving attorneys on both side ofthe lawsuit until today to recommend changes. A final plan is due onDecember 1. Persily waschargedto redraw nine House Districts and two Senate Districts. The proposed mapswould:

  • Double bunk Reps. Grier Martin and Cynthia Ball, both Democrats, in Wake County House District 49.
  • In Guilford County three districts would be double bunked: Republican Sen. Trudy Wade and Democrat Sen. Gladys Robinson in Senate District 27, Republican Rep. John Blust and Democrat Rep. Pricey Harrison in House District 61, and Republican Rep. Jon Hardister and Democrat Rep. Amos Quick in House District 59.
  • It is difficult to determine, based upon currently available data, whether or not there any incumbents in Mecklenburg County would be double bunked by the changes.

Additionally, because Persilly did not use political data in drawing themaps, it is difficult to determine if the maps would favor one party overanother.

A Look Ahead to Next Week

There are no legislative meetings next week.