NCGA Week in Review

March 19, 2018

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The legislature carried on with another busy week of interim committeemeetings despite some inclement weather in the western part of the state.Members covered a wide range of health care issues, school safety anddistrict division, and even some alcohol related issues.

Health and Human Services Committee Talks Flu, Prisoners, Child WelfareDelays


The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Servicesstarted Tuesday morning with an update from Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary ofthe Department of Health and Human Services on the flu epidemic in NorthCarolina. This has been a particularly active flu season in the state, shetold committee members, with deaths now topping 300 and counting. The fluvaccine’s effectiveness this year nationwide was around 36% for adults and59% for children. She urged anyone who had yet to get their flu shot to getone as soon as possible.

Prison Health

The Health and Human Services Oversight Committee continued a conversationfrom the Opioid Sentencing Reform Task Force’s meeting last week on mentalhealth issues in the state’s jails. Eddie Caldwell of the NC Sheriffs’Associationspoketo the health system within the state’s jails and the lack of fundingneeded to provide adequate mental health resources to inmates.

Child Welfare and NC FAST Update

Susan Perry-Manning and Sam Gibbs, deputy secretaries at the North CarolinaDepartment of Health and Human Services, gave presentations on theimplementation of the FederalProgram Improvement Planfor Child and Family Services and an update on theNC FAST Implementation of Child Welfare. These presentations gave way to conversations around child fatalityreviews, implementation of new Department of Social Services software, andlong-standing delays in how the state is working to improve outcomes forchild welfare.

Anything Else?

The committee voted to approve theirdraft recommendationsto be presented to the legislature during this short session.

Division of Local School Administrative Units

The Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Division of Local SchoolAdministrative Units met again on Tuesday to discuss the issues involved individing school districts in the state. They coveredimplementation and governanceissues,constitutionalissues,fundingissues, and bond and debt considerations. They also heard about variouslogistical considerationsincluding equitable division and funding of school facilities, insurance,transportation, school nutrition programs, information technology, andlegal issues. The meeting left committee members with much to considerbefore their next meeting on March 28th.

Medicaid and Health Choice

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid and NC Health Choicereceived a status update on Cardinal Innovations Healthcare and discussedthe work plan for the Medicaid transformation. They also heard areportfrom the Department of Health and Human Services on funding for GMEpayments as well as aplanto implement coverage for home visits for pregnant women and families withyoung children.

Cardinal Progress

Trey Sutten, Interim CEO of Cardinal Innovations Healthcare,presenteda status update to the committee. He covered a snapshot of what he haslearned in the 120 days since he started in his new role. He provided hisvision for Cardinal’s Project Future as well as their corrective actionplan which was requested by the Department of Health and Human Services. Healso explained their community reinvestment initiative.

Medicaid Transformation Moves Forward

Secretary Mandy Cohen, Deputy Secretary Dave Richard, and AssistantSecretary Jay Ludlamspoketo the committee about the 1115 Waiver and the department’s Work Plan forthe Medicaid transformation. They covered the recent transformationmilestones the department has passed, gave an operational progress summary,and explained the amended 1115 waiver.

Emergency Management

Thursday the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Emergency Managementmet again to cover a range of topics that left members feeling a little onedge. IT threats were discussed in the form of hacking of connected devicessuch as smart TVs and doors with electric security panels. Firearmstraining and first responder training were discussed at length, and theidea of arming teachers was brought up. The committee also heard apresentationfrom the United Way of NC on their 211 program which runs call centers thatassist the state’s 911 centers with overflow in the event of man-made ornatural disasters.

Connected Device Security

Uri Alter, CEO of VDOO Connected Trust Ltd, gave alessonto committee members on a security threat most Americans are not aware of:hacking your everyday connected devices. Whether it is a cell phone, asecurity camera in your office, a smart smoke detector, or your HVACsystem, Alter informed the committee that if it is connected to theinternet, it can very easily be hacked. The danger is in hackers across theworld hacking critical systems and demanding money to release control. Ahotel could be put in lockdown, effectively kidnapping all the guests, oran HVAC system connected to a business computer system could be hacked toaccess their corporate data. Mr. Alter showed how the threats from poorlyprotected connected devices are seemingly endless.

Firearms and Safety Training

Presenters covered two facets of security training:firearms trainingandthreat trainingfor our law enforcement professionals as well as civilians. Steven Combs,Director of the Criminal Justice Standards Division of the NC Department ofJustice explained the rigorous firearms training and other standards forour sworn law enforcement officers. Mr. Michael Macario or Regional ProvingGrounds, LLC told the committee about the first responder readinesstraining his group provides to first responders and civilians of all kinds.The conversation veered off to how the state might provide training toteachers if they were armed.

What Next?

At the next meeting, Chairman Ron Rabin indicated he would have draftlegislative recommendations for the committee to hear. They includestandards for armed teachers in schools and suggestions for reportingsuspicious activity.

ABC Permitting and Enforcement

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety’ssubcommittee on ABC Permitting and Enforcement met Thursday to discuss andvote on draft legislation.

What Does the Draft Do?

The bill, entitled “ABC Regulation and Reform,” which has not been releasedyet, will make a number of changes to current state ABC laws. The draft, ifpassed, will increase fines for the violation of ABC laws, requireindividuals to be 25 years of age to be eligible for an ABC permit, require51% of ownership of an LLC to qualify to hold an ABC permit, define privateclubs as 501(c) businesses, and update existing law on sexually explicitconduct on ABC licensed premises.

Anything Else?

The private club provision of the bill would change the landscape of NorthCarolina’s nightlife. The current definition includes bars that do not cookfood on premises, defining those establishments as, “an establishment thatis organized and operated solely for a social, recreational, patriotic, orfraternal purpose and that is not open to the general public, but is openonly to the members of the organization and their bona fide guests.” Thisdraft strikes that definition and redefines a private club as, “anestablishment that qualifies as a 501(c) business under the InternalRevenue Code and has been in operation for a minimum of 12 months prior toapplication for an ABC permit.” This provision, if passed, would prevent aprivate club from obtaining an ABC permit unless it was a nonprofitorganization, effectively preventing any new bars from opening in thestate. It would, however, grandfather in existing bars and private clubs atthe date of enactment of the bill.

Gov. Cooper to Make Appointments

Gov. Roy Cooper madeappointmentsFriday to a beleaguered new State Board of Elections and EthicsEnforcement. The appointments will allow the organization to at long lastget to work sorting out the fast approaching 2018 elections. All thelogistical responsibilities the local boards of elections oversee hinge onthe state board appointing the membership of the local boards.

Who Made the Cut?

The eight members came from a list of names provided by the two partieswith the highest number of registered affiliates – the Democratic Party andthe Republican Party.

  • Joshua Dale Malcolm of Pembroke as a member registered with the political party with the highest number of registered affiliates in the State. Malcolm is the Chief Legal Officer, General Counsel and Assistant Secretary to the UNC Pembroke Board of Trustees. Malcolm currently serves as a Justice on the Supreme Court of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
  • Valerie Johnson of Durham County as a member registered with the political party with the highest number of registered affiliates in the State. Johnson is an attorney at Copeley Johnson & Groninger.
  • Stella Anderson of Watauga County as a member registered with the political party with the highest number of registered affiliates in the State. Anderson is a Professor in the Department of Management for the College of Business at Appalachian State University.
  • Stacy “Four” Eggers, IV of Boone as a member registered with the political party with the second highest number of registered affiliates in the State. Eggers is an attorney with Eggers Law.
  • John Randolph Hemphill of Raleigh as a member registered with the political party with the second highest number of registered affiliates in the State. Hemphill is an attorney with Hemphill, Gelder & Monroe.
  • John Malachi Lewis of Mt. Pleasant as a member registered with the political party with the second highest number of registered affiliates in the State. Lewis is the Deputy Counsel for the North Carolina Republican Party.
  • Ken Raymond of Winston Salem as a member registered with the political party with the second highest number of registered affiliates in the State. Raymond owns and manages Triad Notary Service.

A Look Ahead to This Week

Monday, March 19

1:00 PM Social Services Regional Supervision and Collaboration WorkingGroup

2:00 PM Select Committee on Disaster Relief

Wednesday, March 21

9:00 AM Select Committee on School Safety

Thursday, March 22

9:00 AM Select Committee on North Carolina River Quality

1:00 PM Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission