North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

February 3, 2023

Pardon Our Dust

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Lawmakers in the General Assembly are wasting no time filing bills to accomplish policies that failed last year due to stalled negotiations or vetoes by the governor, as well as new initiatives by freshman and senior members of the legislature. Bills were filed this week on topics ranging from familiar healthcare reforms to educational curriculum requirements, to protections for victims of domestic violence. Lawmakers in both chambers also introduced legislation this week to respond to the damage done to electrical substations in Moore County and Randolph County over the last several months and increase the penalty for offenders who commit such crimes. The state’s new Department of Adult Corrections is also one step closer to having a leader after the Senate confirmed Todd Ishee to serve as Secretary of the Department. Ishee testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week and received a unanimous recommendation to the Senate Select Committee on Nominations.

Parents’ Bill of Rights

In their first meeting of the 2023 session, the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee discussed and passed SB 49: Parents’ Bill of Rights, which has garnered some controversy. The bill is similar to one that passed the Senate during the 2022 legislative session but was strongly criticized by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper and Democrats nationwide who said the bill discriminated against LGBTQ students.

When the bill was compared to the 2022 bill that did not get taken up by the House, Senate Education Committee Chair Senator Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) noted there were some changes in this year’s form due to the pushback received last year. The bill has three parts. The first would establish the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” which would allow parents of students in public schools to “access and review education records,” including textbooks and supplemental materials. The bill would require schools to establish policies that allow parents to decide what courses or materials related to “sexual activity and sexuality” are available to their child. Under the legislation, schools would also be required to notify parents with new information about their child, including changes to a student’s name or pronoun.

SB 49 would also require healthcare providers to get written parental consent before treating a minor, with exceptions for treatment covered under current law.

During the Senate Education committee meeting Wednesday, advocates from the ACLU, Equality NC, and several Democratic Senators spoke against the bill. Democratic Senators focused their arguments on the necessity of the bill, saying the committee should instead focus on teacher shortages at this time.

Following the committee meeting, Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, a Republican, issued a statement supporting the bill, saying, “Now is the time for us to step up and ensure their voices are heard, and this bill does exactly that…Many on the left claimed that this was a “Fox News” driven issue, but in reality, it is a parent-driven issue. Parents have led the way, and it is time we have their backs.”

SB 49 was also heard Thursday in the Senate Committee on Health Care’s first meeting of the session. The bill passed by voice vote and was referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

Health Care Bills 

With health care reform and Medicaid expansion a top issue this year for lawmakers, it is no surprise that a slew of health care-related bills have already been introduced. Many of the bills filed by health leaders in the General Assembly resemble bills that fell short in last year’s legislative session. In 2022, Medicaid expansion passed the Senate, along with other reforms, but negotiations stalled in the House with lawmakers disagreeing on several of the accompanying reforms, including the near repeal of the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) laws.

This week, Senate Health Care Committee Chair Senator Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) introduced several bills, including SB 48: Repeal Certificate of Need Laws. CON laws require health care providers to seek approval by the state Department of Health and Human Services for new health care facilities and medical equipment purchases over a certain threshold. In an interview Wednesday with The News & Observer, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said, “we’re willing to look at CON reform…not CON repeal. I don’t anticipate that we will take up their standalone bill.”

Senator Krawiec, along with her two Senate Health Care Committee co-Chairs, Senator Jim Burgin (R-Harnett) and Senator Kevin Corbin (R-Macon), co-sponsored a bill that was also filed last year, SB 47: PA Team-Based Practice. SB 47 would adjust the supervision arrangement of physician assistants and make various changes to the licensure of PAs. The bill defines the clinical practice experience required for a PA to be qualified to practice in a team-based setting.

The Senate Health Care Committee chairs also introduced SB 46: Medical Billing Transparency. This bill is also similar to one that passed the Senate last year but did not receive a hearing in the House. The bill would prevent an out-of-network health care provider from billing a patient who received services at a facility that is in-network with an individual’s health plan. The bill would require 72-hour notice before the patient’s scheduled appointment, excluding emergency services, that an out-of-network service will be rendered to a patient.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Monday, February 6

2:00 PM Senate: Session
4:30 PM House: Session

Tuesday, February 7

11:00 AM Senate: Judiciary
12:00 PM Senate: State and Local Government 
1:00 PM House: Environment
1:00 PM House: Education – K-12