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The state of North Carolina continues to operate under Phase 2, Safer at Home measures. The state is expected to stay in Phase 2 until September 11 at 5:00 PM. The Governor is expected to announce whether the state will move into Phase 3 or continue to operate in a modified Phase 2. As always, our team will work to keep you up to date as new policy develops. Follow us on Twitter @KeepnUpWJonesSt for real-time updates.
As of Friday morning, in the state of North Carolina, there were 140,824 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 1,850,689 completed tests, 2,312 deaths, and 1,070 current hospitalizations. As we all continue to feel the effects of the global pandemic and adjust to a new normal, we want to highlight a few ways our clients across North Carolina have worked to support residents and make this time a little easier for those throughout the state. Read more about what our clients are doing to help by clicking here.
For more information on COVID-19 in North Carolina, click here to visit the Department of Health and Human Services website, and be sure to stay up to date on the latest federal guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by clicking here.
Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight
The Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee met August 10 to hear a Department of Transportation (NCDOT) audit compliance presentation and recommended bill draft. Additionally, the committee heard a presentation from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency and an update on the performance of NC FAST Child Welfare.
Following audits performed by the Office of State Auditor, the Program Evaluation Division (PED) reported that the NCDOT has not maintained a viable internal audit program. The committee was told that the NCDOT has not produced an internal performance audit since 2016. PED found that performance audits could have detected the NCDOT budget and cash control problems which were recently confirmed by the State Auditor. PED made the following recommendations based on their findings:
- The NCDOT Audit Committee should revisit NCDOT Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) annual plan and determine why OIG is not publishing reports
- The Council of Internal Auditing should conduct a hearing on DOT internal audit functions and assist DOT in improving the effectiveness of OIG, and
- The Council of Internal Auditing should establish and monitor compliance with standards for all internal audit units within state agencies
NCDOT responded to the findings,telling the committee that they have filled all but one of their auditor positions and have begun to explore outsourcing performance audits. The Department is working to have a formal plan in place in time for the September meeting of the Board of Transportation. The committee did not take a vote on the bill draft.
Health and Human Services
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services met August 11. The committee heard from Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) officials, including Secretary Mandy Cohen, on COVID-19 updates. Secretary Cohen presented the committee with an overview of the state’s early action to fight COVID-19, as well as trends, testing and tracing capacity, and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE). Secretary Cohen reported that North Carolina’s trends are heading in the right direction, but the Department will be paying close attention to any changes in trends as schools begin to re-open over the next few weeks. Secretary Cohen emphasized that continued funding for COVID-19 will play an important part in containing the spread of the virus. Currently, there are three funding streams for COVID-19, including the Coronavirus Relief Fund appropriated by the General Assembly, supplemental funding of several grant programs through the CARES Act and other federal legislation, and enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for the Medicaid program. The FMAP was increased by 6.2% through December 31, which is projected to equal $500M in avoided state cost.
The committee also heard from Susan Gale Perry, Chief Deputy Secretary at DHHS regarding COVID-19’s impact on children. As some K-12 schools across the state begin to return, DHHS will closely monitor the chances for increased spread. The State has purchased five reusable cloth face coverings for all K-12 students, teachers, and staff in NC public and charter schools. The State has also supplied a PPE starter pack for school nurses and delegated staff at all NC Public schools, which includes: temporal, touch-less thermometers; disposable procedural masks; reusable face shields; and disposable gowns.
The initial PPE starter pack supply is enough to last schools approximately two months.
Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid and NC Health Choice
Secretary Cohen also presented to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid and NC Health Choice after the Joint Health and Human Services Committee meeting. Secretary Cohen told the committee that North Carolina is one of twelve states that has not said yes to Medicaid expansion, and she argued that it is costing the state. Throughout the pandemic, 13% of North Carolinians have been identified as uninsured so far. The Department did receive federal dollars for hospitals, prescription mail orders, and COVID-19 testing. The federal government allowed for Medicaid dollars to be used for COVID-19 testing for the uninsured during the declared state of health emergency. Committee members were interested in the benefits for the state if expansion were to happen. Secretary Cohen told committee members that North Carolina is losing out on billions of dollars, and that the state is spending state dollars on things that could be covered by federal dollars. Additionally, the committee heard an update on Medicaid transformation.
The Department has now set a July 1, 2021 deadline for the state’s Medicaid transformation to go live as the state switches to a managed care system. The July 1 deadline also includes a tribal option for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The Department expects to begin open enrollment March 15, 2021, and has begun testing data-sharing capabilities to ensure that information shared between providers and beneficiaries is seamless during the transition.
There are 80 days to go before voters across the country cast their ballots for who they would like to serve as their elected officials, from President to Congress members, governors to state legislators. Over the next few weeks, our team will be highlighting races from around the state, along with other election resources to keep everyone informed on what’s happening all over North Carolina, region by region. For more information on how to register or how to vote in North Carolina, click here or here for national registration and voting information.
For an overview of North Carolina’s US Senate race and Council of State races, click here. To see an overview of North Carolina’s U.S. House races and Eastern North Carolina General Assembly races, check out last week’s Week in Review here. This week, our team brings you an overview of Western North Carolina House and Senate races.
Western North Carolina Senate Races
When voters cast their ballots November 3, North Carolinians will also be voting for who will represent them in the state legislature. North Carolina’s state Senate races continue to gain more and more attention as Democrats work to flip control of the chamber. In November, voters in the western part of the state will decide who will represent them in the following districts:
District 42 – (Alexander, Catawba)
Tina Miles (D), a first time candidate, will face businessman H. Dean Proctor (R) to fill the seat left by Sen. Andy Wells (R).
District 45 – (Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes)
Incumbent Sen. Denna Ballard (R) will face challenger Jeanne Supin (D), a first- time candidate.
District 46 – (Avery, Burke, Caldwell)
Incumbent Sen. Warren Daniel (R), a lawyer and longtime legislator, will face challenger Edward Phifer, III (D), a businessman.
District 47- (Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Yancey)
Incumbent Ralph Hise (R), who currently serves as Senate Deputy President Pro Tempore, will face challenger David Wheeler (D) for the second consecutive election year.
District 48 – (Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania)
Incumbent Chuck Edwards (R), a businessman and two-term Senator, will face challenger Brian Caskey (D), Mayor Pro Tempore of Mills River.
District 49 – (Buncombe)
Julie Mayfield (D), a lawyer, will square off against Bob Penland (R), a retiree, for this seat left open by Sen. Terry Van Duyn (D), who lost her bid for Lt. Governor in the primary this year.
District 50 – (Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain)
Rep. Kevin Corbin (R) seeks to move from the NC House to the Senate, and will face challenger Victoria Fox (D), a first-time candidate, in November.
Western North Carolina House Races
All 120 of North Carolina’s House seats will be up for grabs on the ballot in November. Races in the western part of the state include:
District 85 (Avery, McDowell, Mitchell)
Ted Remington (D), 1st Vice Chair of the McDowell County Democratic Party, will face Dudley Greene (R), the former McDowell County Sheriff, in a battle for the seat left open by the powerful Rep. Josh Dobson (R) as he makes his bid to replace Cherie Berry (R) as the state’s Commissioner of Labor.
District 87 (Caldwell)
Incumbent Destin Hall (R), who was recently named Co-Chair of the House Rules Committee, will face Corie Schreiber (D), in November.
District 89 (Catawba)
Incumbent Mitchell Setzer (R), a business owner, will seek his twelfth term in the House as he faces Greg Cranford (D), who ran for the seat in 2018.
District 90 (Alleghany, Surry, Wilkes)
Incumbent Rep. Sarah Stevens (R), who currently serves as Speaker Pro Tempore, will face Beth Shaw (D), a businesses woman and first-time candidate, in November.
District 93 (Ashe)
Incumbent Ray Russell (D), a professor and small business owner, will go up against Ray Pickett (R), a hotel owner.
District 94 (Alexander, Wilkes)
Rep. Jeffrey Elmore (R), a school teacher and legislator since 2013, does not face a challenger in the general election.
District 96 (Catawba)
Incumbent Jay Adams (R), a commercial real estate broker, will be challenged by Kimberly Bost (D), a business owner, in November.
District 110 (Cleveland, Gaston)
Incumbent Kelly Hastings (R), a realtor who has served five terms in the House, does not have a challenger.
District 111 (Cleveland)
House Speaker Tim Moore, an attorney, will face challenger Jennifer Childers (D), a peer support specialist and first-time political candidate, in November.
District 112 (Burke, Rutherford)
Incumbent David Rogers (R), an attorney, will face Ed Hallyburton (D), a businessman, in November.
District 113 (Henderson, Polk, Transylvania)
Incumbent Jake Johnson (R), a real estate agent and the youngest member of the House, will face Samuel Edney (D), a business owner, in November.
District 114 (Buncombe)
Incumbent Rep. Susan Fisher (D), who has served eight terms in the House, faces challengers Tim Hyatt (R) and Lyndon Smith (L), who previously ran for Senate District 49.
District 115 (Buncombe)
Incumbent John Ager (D), a land manager, will face Mark Crawford (R), a commissioned U.S. Army Reserves officer, in the general election.
District 118 (Haywood, Madison, Yancey)
Alan Jones (D), a staff representative for the United Steel Workers International Union, will go up against Mark Pless (R), a Haywood County Commissioner. The two seek to fill the seat left by retiring Rep. Michele Presnell (R).
District 119 (Haywood, Jackson, Swain)
Incumbent Rep. Joe Sam Queen (D) faces former Rep. Mike Clampitt, who seeks to regain the seat he lost in 2018 by a few thousand votes.These two candidates have battled back and forth to hold this seat numerous times over the last decade.
District 120 (Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon)
Susan Landis (D), a school psychologist, will go against Karl Gillespie (R), President of the Macon County Farm Bureau, in November. The seat was left open by Rep. Kevin Corbin (R) who is running for the NC Senate.
Upcoming Legislative Meetings
Thursday, August 20
10:00 AM House: Select Committee on COVID-19, Health Care