NCGA Week in Review

December 15, 2017

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This week, the General Assembly was abuzz as legislators held a number oflegislative oversight meetings. Issues discussed included education financereform, judicial redistricting and addressing a nursing shortage in stateprisons.

Publication of the NCGA Week in Review will pause until after the new year.The team at McGuireWoods Consulting wishes you and your family a very happyholiday season!

Legislative Oversight Committees Meet

Agriculture, Natural & Economic Resources Oversight

On Tuesday, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Agriculture andNatural and Economic Resources held their first meeting of the interim.

The committee first heard areviewof the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), whichprovides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers toimplement conservation practices on their land, from US Department ofAgriculture (USDA) Assistant State Conservationist Greg Walker. Walkerreviewed the eligibility criteria considered by the USDA when awarding EQIPfunds. In 2017, $20.4 million of EQIP funds were distributed in NC. Walkerwas followed by Deputy Director of Soil and Water Conservation with theDepartment of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) David Williams whopresentedto the committee on state coordination with the EQIP program.

The committee then heard anupdatefrom Assistant Secretary for the Environment with the Department ofEnvironmental Quality (DEQ) Sheila Holman on DEQ’s efforts to implementbudget reductions directed by the 2017 Appropriations Act. Holman reportedthat DEQ needs to identify an additional $65,140 in savings to meet therequired $828,114 reduction in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Finally, Executive Director of the NC Arts Council Wayne Martinpresentedto the committee on a grant program included in the 2017 Appropriations Actthat provides funds to support art projects serving NC military servicefour projects that were selected in the first round of funding as well asthe grant guidelines.

To view all documents from Tuesday’s meeting, follow thislink.

Building Code Reform

The House Select Committee on Implementation of Building Code RegulatoryReform held their first meeting on Wednesday. Committee Chair Rep. MarkBrody opened the committee by noting “gross inconsistencies in buildingcode across the state.” The committee will study three existing state laws:

Capital Improvements Oversight

While meeting on Wednesday, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee onCapital Improvements received updates on the implementation of the ConnectNC Bond from the NC Community College System and NC State Parks. Directorof the Division of Parks and Recreation Mike Murphyreportedthat the $75 million the Division received from the Bond will fund 45projects across the state. Then Community College System Vice PresidentElizabeth Grovensteinpresentedan overview of the 200 projects that have been approved by the State Boardof Community Colleges.

Education Finance Reform

The Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform met onThursday to hear two presentations from the Department of PublicInstruction (DPI).

DPI Chief Financial Officer Adam Levinson presented anoverviewof public education finance in NC and responded to findings from a 2016Program Evaluation Division studyof NC’s education funding model. Levinson then suggested that the committeeperform further review of the Exceptional Children’s allotment and fundingfor charter schools and identify what the General Assembly’s principles arefor an updated finance system.

The committee then heard from DPI Director of School Business AlexisSchauss whoreviewedDPI’s school business processes, including the cycle of state funds, dataand controls and state budget and allotments.

Elections Oversight

The Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee held their firstmeeting of the interim today where they heard apresentationon the 2017 municipal elections from Executive Director of the State Boardof Elections and Ethics Enforcement Kim Strach. According to Stratch,because the turnover in municipal is lower, they highlight the importanceof post-election audits. 109 contests in NC’s 2017 municipal elections weredecided by ten votes or fewer. She recommended adjusting the electionschedule for 2019 to elongate the time period for counties to ensure anaccurate election, and provide a mechanism for mandatory recounts ofmunicipal elections decided by one vote.

The committee also heard from Legislative Analysis Division staff, KaraMcCraw and Jessica Sammons, whooverviewedthe implementation ofSB 656: Electoral Freedom Act of 2017and possible legal issues with the law. SB 656 changed the definition of apolitical party to reduce the number of signatures needed for the formationof a new political party.

Emergency Management Oversight

Yesterday, the Joint Legislative Emergency Management Committee held theirthird meeting of the interim.

DPS State Capitol Police Division Chief Glen Allenpresentedto the committee on security at the General Assembly and other statecapitol facilities. NCGA Police Chief Martin Brock followed Chief Allenwith anoverviewof security at the legislature, including an overview of emergencynotification procedures.

Additionally, Brunswick County Sheriff John IngramreviewedBrunswick County’s Citizens Academy, which educates citizens on lawprocedures, and volunteer programs.

Environmental Review Commission

On Wednesday, the Environmental Review Commission held their second meetingof the interim to discuss the solid waste disposal tax.

The committee received apresentationfrom DEQ Division of Waste Management Director Michael Scott. Proceeds fromthe $2/ ton tax are allocated to the Inactive Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund(50% of proceeds), to cities and counties that provide solid wastemanagement programs and services on a per-capita basis (37.5%) and to theGeneral Fund (12.5%). Scott then overviewed the Inactive Hazardous SitesCleanup Fund, which provides remediation dollars to cleanup out of uselandfills.

Scott was followed by Harnett County Engineer and Solid Waste DirectorAmanda Bader whoemphasizedhow Harnett County has benefitted from the tax. Harnett County receives adisbursement of $75,000-80,000 annually, which has allowed the county topurchase new equipment and make facility upgrades.

Health & Human Services Oversight

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services meton Tuesday to hear updates from DHHS.

First, NC Families Accessing Services Through Technology (NCFAST) DirectorAngela Taylor provided the committee with anupdateon NCFAST implementation, which began to rollout in 2013. According to herpresentation, there are 6,500 NCFAST users daily in all 100 counties. DHHSDeputy Secretary for Technology & Operations thenupdatedthe committee on other IT projects within DHHS.

The committee also a discussion with DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen and DeputySecretary for Medical Assistance Dave Richard regarding the LME/ MCOCardinal Innovations, which DHHStook overlast month. In their presentation, Secretary Cohen and Richard noted that anew board will be appointed today and DHHS will work with Cardinal todevelop a “detailed corrective action plan” while Cardinal stabilizes.

To view all documents from the committee, follow thislink.

Information Technology Oversight

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Information Technology metyesterday to hear presentations on fraud detection and prevention from theDepartment of Revenue and the State Treasurer.

First, Department of Revenue Examinations Division Director Alan Woodardspoketo the committee on the Department’s efforts to reduce fraud, including adata analysis partnership with SAS that analyzes state refunds.

Then, Chief Information Officer with the Information Technology Division ofthe Department of State Treasurer Bill Goldenpresentedto the committee, highlighting data protection efforts.

Judicial Redistricting & Reform

The Senate Select Committee on Judicial Reform and Redistricting held theirthird meeting on Wednesday.

The committee first heard from Elon University School of Law ProfessorScott Gaylord whopresentedon judicial selection methods. According to Gaylord, elections legitimizethe courts and make judges directly accountable to the voters.

The next item on the committee’s agenda caused some partisan controversywhen Gov. Roy Cooper sent recently retired Wake County Superior Court JudgeDon Stephens to testify on behalf of the Office of the Governor. CommitteeChair Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg) did not allow Stephens to speak onthe basis that he is not a paid staff member of the Governor. This move ledDemocratic committee members Sens. Joel Ford (Mecklenburg), Jay Chaudhuri(Wake) and Floyd McKissick (Durham) to walk out of the committee inprotest.

Finally, the committee chairs introduced theirDistrict,ProsecutorialandSuperiorCourt redistricting proposals.

Justice & Public Safety

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

First, the committee heard from Deputy Secretary of Administration with theDivision of Adult and Juvenile Correction Joe Prater, whoupdatedthe committee on the Division’s nurse recruitment efforts. Currently, thereare 266 vacant registered nurse and licensed practical nurse positionswithin the Division, 144 of which have been vacant for more than 6 months.

Then, the Executive Director of the Private Protective Services Board andthe Alarm Systems Licensing Board, Brian Jones,presentedto the committee on private protective services and alarm systemslicensing.

Finally, City of Wilmington Fire Chief Buddy Martinetteupdatedthe committee on the NC search and rescue program. Martinette comparedsearch and rescue efforts following the Hurricane Floyd in 1999 to effortsin 2016 after Hurricane Matthew. He noted that a partnership between localand state government improved response and saved lives.