North Carolina General Assembly — Compromise COVID-19 Relief Package

May 2, 2020

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Compromise COVID-19 relief package 

Members of the North Carolina House and Senate came together Friday to hash out the differences between their two COVID-19 spending packages, HB 1043: 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act and SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act, both which were voted out of their respective chambers unanimously earlier this week. The resulting compromise bills were released Saturday morning, with the Senate bill being designated for policy provisions and the House bill taking the spending provisions. Both chambers voted unanimously in favor on the pair of bills Saturday afternoon. The House passed SB 704 119-0 and HB 1043 120-0. The Senate unanimously concurred 46-0 on SB 704 and passed HB 1043 on 3rd reading. The bills have been sent to the Governor for consideration. 

A few controversial changes were made to the original bills, including the Senate removing a provision that many hailed as a savior for the restaurant industry, which would have allowed the to-go sale of two sealed mixed alcoholic beverages with the sale of a meal. Alcohol sales make up a great portion of revenue for many restaurants, and could have made a dramatic difference in making ends meet for small business owners across the state. For the most part, however, the bills came out of conference largely intact. Here is a breakdown of the two packages:

SB 704: COVID-19 Recovery Act proposed committee substitute (policy bill)


Tax relief:

  • Adjusts tax filings to mirror IRS relief so state and federal tax laws will not be in conflict
  • Waives interest on franchise, corporate income, and individual income tax underpayments from April 15 to July 15, 2020


  • Affirms the flexibility in unemployment payments originally ordered by Gov. Roy Cooper in Executive Orders 118 and 131 as it applies to determination of unemployment, elimination of the waiting week, work search requirements, attached claims, and non-charging of employer accounts
  • Provides tax credit for employers for the amount of contributions payable
  • Allows increased flexibility on weekly job contact requirements
  • Simplifies employer claim filings that are directly connected to a disaster covered by a federal disaster declaration
  • Clarifies county property tax lien provisions
  • Makes the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance a permanent interim committee

Buncombe County Occupancy Tax:

  • Allows the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority to use existing occupancy tax proceeds to provide grants up to $50,000 to businesses that promote tourism and patronage of lodging facilities that have suffered significant economic loss due to COVID-19


K-12 waivers and modifications:

  • Clarifies and modifies testing requirement including EOGs, EOCs, the ACT, K-3 diagnostic and formative tests, and WorkKeys
  • Waives calculation and display requirements for report cards
  • Waives some evaluation requirements for alternative schools and public school building-level reports
  • Waives identification of new and new continually low-performing schools, and new low-performing local school administrative units
  • Waives requirement for selection of a new school for the Innovative School District
  • Waives a number of requirements for the Read to Achieve program
  • Allows flexibility in math placement for the 2020-2021 school year
  • Allows remote instruction to satisfy statutory instructional time requirements for the 2019-2020 school year and waives attendance enforcement requirements from March 16, 2020 through the remainder of the school year
  • Develops a calendar and attendance plan for the 2020-2021 school year that, among other things, directs the development of Remote Instruction Plans by public schools, modifies the school calendar by opening schools earlier and allowing remote instruction to make up state of emergency declaration days by using remote instruction

Staffing and school program allowances:

  • Provides 6-month extension for school improvement plans
  • Permits eligible schools to continue their eligibility for principal recruitment salary supplements
  • Waives teacher performance notifications for the updated Education Value-Added Assessment System data
  • Waives teacher effectiveness data reporting requirements and permits delays of annual teacher evaluations
  • Waives testing and reporting requirements for nonpublic schools with opportunity scholarship students and allows carry forward of Opportunity Scholarship Program funds
  • Extends K-12 scholarship program report dates
  • Provides numerous modifications and waivers for Educator Preparedness Programs
  • Waives some school administrator prep and transforming principal prep program requirements
  • Extends teacher, school administrator, and school professional licensure requirements and continuing education unit requirements
  • Waives community college tuition apprenticeship requirements
  • Waives interest on UNC student debt


COVID-19 frontline support:

  • Encourages front-line health, law enforcement, and child care workers to have priority access to a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Pursues federal waivers for childcare
  • Provides flexibility for health care provider teaching institutions

Access to medical supplies, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and mobile response units:

  • Directs the Division of Public Health, the Division of Health Service Regulation, and the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) to develop a plan for creating and maintaining a strategic state stockpile of PPE and testing supplies with a number of requirements of what the plan must entail
  • Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and DEM to consider NC companies first when creating mobile response units

Health care provider support:

  • Gives the Board of Dental Examiners flexibility to waive certain Dental Practice Act and Dental Hygiene Act requirements during a declared state of emergency
  • Authorizes dentists to administer COVID-19 tests
  • Authorizes a process for immunizing pharmacists to administer COVID-19 immunizations and vaccinations
  • Temporarily gives pharmacists more flexibility in identifying patients picking up prescriptions
  • Allows more flexibility for quality improvement plans for physician assistants and nurse practitioners
  • Directs the NC Area Health Education Center to conduct a pandemic healthcare workforce study
  • Grants healthcare facilities and providers immunity from civil and criminal liability for acts and omissions in the course of arranging healthcare services under certain COVID-19-related circumstances
  • Allows temporarily expanding rules for the dispensing and use of controlled substances by medical facilities at additional business locations
  • Declares certain requirements for pre-procedure COVID-19 test result reporting

DHHS flexibility and modifications:

  • Extends time for establishing connectivity to the state’s health information exchange network, HealthConnex
  • Temporarily waives three-year fingerprinting requirement for childcare providers, adoptions, and foster care
  • Suspends requirements for annual health facility inspections, monitoring, and other rules for some licensed medical facilities, including adult care homes and hospitals
  • Waives child welfare services staff training requirements


  • Increases access to healthcare through more flexibility with telehealth programs
  • Encourages the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare to provide increased healthcare coverage through audio-only communication, which will be particularly crucial for those without reliable internet access or video-conferencing systems


  • Temporarily authorizes notary procedures via video conference
  • Temporarily allows a person to witness a principal sign a document by video conference
  • Clarifies the allowance of wearing masks in certain public and private premises, with certain removal requirements upon the request of law enforcement officials
  • Allows the use of electronic signatures and video conferences for issuance of warrants and judicial orders
  • Allows extension of lottery claim deadlines
  • Extends the validity of credentials issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
  • Delays the move of the state’s DMV headquarters from Raleigh to Rocky Mount
  • Provides financial flexibility to the Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Allows temporary flexibility for signatures on Health Care Powers of Attorney and Advanced Directive documents
  • Allows flexibility to sheriffs serving process on residents of of long-term care facilities
  • Provides flexibility on real estate transactions and closings
  • Allows for remote issuance of marriage licenses through video conference
  • Provides limited civil liability immunity for essential businesses for injuries or death related to COVID-19
  • Provides flexibility for employing and training prison staff
  • Authorizes live video to be used for swearing in new attorneys
  • Permits the release of communicable disease health information by DHHS to health departments and law enforcement officials under certain personal and public safety circumstances
  • Authorizes expanded allowances for licensed soil scientists working on wastewater systems
  • Authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to develop and implement emergency procedures for management of solid waste generated during the pandemic
  • Allows counties, cities, and private entities to request waivers from DEQ for the disposal of yard waste in a landfill to ease economic hardship
  • Allows the State Treasurer to permit certain members the option to defer premium or debt payment to the State Health Plan during a state of emergency
  • Allows flexibility to the Director of the Retirement Systems Division surrounding retirements of state employees
  • Allows certain retired teachers and state employees to temporarily return to work
  • Allows state agencies to waive interest on past due payments, with some exceptions
  • Provides for the rescheduling of public hearings on rule making
  • Authorizes the extension of the time period for filing of petitions for contested cases
  • Allows flexibility of cash floors for local governments
  • Reauthorizes counties and municipalities to issue special obligation bonds and notes
  • Authorizes official meetings of public bodies to be conducted by remote, live communication during declarations of emergency
  • Delays the effective date  of new consolidated land use planning statutes
  • Makes allowances for land use development ordinances referencing flood insurance rate maps, watershed boundary maps, or other official state or federal agency maps
  • Directs state agencies to exercise regulatory flexibility during the Coronavirus crisis
  • Authorizes the extension of certain certification requirements for some DHHS officials
  • Allows a chief district court judge to temporarily modify an order of confinement or imprisonment in a local confinement facility under certain COVID-19-related circumstances
  • Authorizes DEM to utilize NC Regional Councils of Government administering Federal Emergency Management Agency public assistance and individual assistance funds

HB 1043: 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act proposed committee substitute (spending bill)

Here is a helpful chart  from General Assembly central staff on spending that has the final agreed-upon amounts.Giving a breakdown of proposed spending from the House and Senate alongside the final amounts in the compromise bill. Some of the more notable spending provisions are as follows:

  • Requires maximizing the use of federal funds available to the state
  • Provides guidance to the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) and state agencies on the use of federal funds and establishes reporting requirements on the use of funds
  • Establishes a Coronavirus Relief Reserve (Reserve) in the General Fund
  • Establishes a Coronavirus Relief Fund (Fund)
  • Establishes a Local Government Coronavirus Relief Reserve (Local Reserve)
  • Directs the State Controller to transfer $1.275B from the Reserve and $150M from the Local Reserve to the Fund established in this act
  • Appropriates $1.425B from the Fund to OSBM for the following
  • $50M to various healthcare groups including the NC Healthcare Foundation, the NC Senior Living Association, the NC Medical Society, and the DEM to purchase PPE, sanitation equipment, and life safety equipment
  • $150M for counties ineligible for federal Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars established in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
  • $70M for the continuity of state government operations
  • $300M for the General Maintenance Reserve in the Highway Fund for DOT
  • $20M to cover anticipated receipt losses of some state agencies
  • $75M to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) for school nutrition services
  • $1M to DPI for improvement of student internet connectivity
  • $30M to DPI for local schools to purchase computers and other electronic devices for students, and $5M for the same for school personnel
  • $4.5M to DPI to establish a statewide shared cybersecurity infrastructure to protect school business systems and minimize disruption
  • $10M to DPI for the Instructional Support Allotment for support to physical and mental health support services
  • $70M to DPI for local schools to provide summer learning programs
  • $1.4M to DPI for remote instruction
  • $3M to DPI to provide nondigital remote instruction
  • $15M to DPI for grants to public school units for costs of providing Extended School Year Services or future services for exceptional children
  • $5M to DPI for the Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports Competitive Grant Program
  • $25M to Community Colleges for campuses to enhance online learning, cover expenses for resources and supports for faculty and staff, provide Small Business Center councelors, cover expenses for expanded IT demands, and provide sanitation 
  • $44.4M to BOG of UNC for increased costs for online coursework, implementation of digital learning accelerator, providing sanitation and other expenses for ongoing campus operations, covering necessary eligible expenses for students and employees
  • $20M to BOG of UNC for the State Education Assistance Authority for private postsecondary institutions to transition to online education
  • $15M for the Duke University Human Vaccine Institute to develop a COVID-19 vaccine
  • $29M to UNC Chapel Hill to allocate to the NC Policy Collaboratory for the development of countermeasures for COVID-19, a vaccine for COVID-19, community testing initiatives, and other research to address health and economic impacts of COVID-19
  • $15M to the Brody School of Medicine at ECU for the development of countermeasures for COVID-19, vaccine for COVID-19, community testing initiatives, and other research
  • $6M for Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine for community testing initiatives
  • $20M to Wake Forest University Health Services to expand COVID-19 study to include syndromic surveillance and representative sample antibody testing
  • $20M to DHHS for local health departments, rural health providers, State Laboratory, and behavioral health and crises services 
  • $6M to DHHS to allocate equally among each of the six food banks in the State and encourages food banks to use North Carolina-based farmers and vendors
  • $25M to DHHS for State-County Special Assistance-licensed facilities to offset increased costs of serving residents during the COVID-19 emergency
  • $50M to DHHS for rural and underserved communities for health provider grants, Medicaid assistance for rural hardship grants, enhanced telehealth services, critical services transportation, health care security for uninsured
  • $5M for NC Association of Free and Charitable Clinics for cost of eligible health services provided during the COVID-19 emergency
  • $1.5M to DHHS to provide a grant to NC MedAssist to offset increased costs for prescription assistance for indigent or uninsured individuals for the COVID-19 emergency
  • $5M to the NC Community Health Centers Association for cost of eligible health services provided during the COVID-19 emergency
  • $25M to DHHS to expand public and private initiatives for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and trends tracking and analysis, provided the requirements in Section 4.10 of this act are met
  • $20M to DHHS to provide funds to support behavior health and crisis services to respond to COVID-19  
  • $1.8M to Old North State Medical Society for rural and African American communities to address COVID-19 disparities
  • $65M for a grant to NC Healthcare Foundation for grants to hospitals designated by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services as critical access hospitals or non-critical access rural hospitals to offset response care for COVID-19
  • $15M to establish the COVID-19 Teaching Hospitals Relief Fund for grants to hospitals classified as teaching hospitals by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • $15M to establish the COVID-19 General Hospitals Relief Fund to hospitals not eligible for grants from NCHF or the COVID-19 Teaching Hospitals Relief Fund.
  • $125M for Golden LEAF for small business loan assistance
  • $9M to DIT for funding the remaining portion of all qualifying GREAT program applications