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NCACC Legislative Bulletin
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July 1, 2016
Sine Die is Nigh
The NC General Assembly is striding toward it's final hours. The 2016-17 budget passed its final vote today, the first day of the fiscal year, and has been sent to the Governor's desk. Adjournment looks almost certain today or tomorrow. Several bills in this edition are still in play, so their status may change in the next 24 hours. Conversations surrounding H2 continue in fits and starts. At the time of publication, we have seen no signs of H3 (Omnibus Constitutional Amendments) or H100 (Local Government Immigration Compliance). Look for our final budget and session reports next week.

Chambers agree to study school board lawsuits 

The Senate and House have approved the conference report on H561 (School System Auth. Re: Legal Proceedings), which addresses one of the counties’ priority goals for this legislative session. The final bill as agreed upon by the conferees does not include the amendment language adopted by the Senate to compel a five-year moratorium on school board lawsuits. Instead, the bill calls for a legislative study of the procedure set forth in G.S. 115C-431 for resolving disputes between local school boards and boards of county commissioners over amounts appropriated for education current expense and capital outlay.
  
During the study, the study will examine a number of factors, including how often mediation and litigation have been used to resolve education funding disputes, the impact the current process has had on relationships between the boards, and the cost to taxpayers. Legislative staff will then make recommendations for alternative ways to resolve these disputes or modifications to the current process and report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Program Evaluation no later than May 1, 2017.

NCACC would like to thank all members of the H561 conference committee and all sponsors of H726 for their work on this issue.
Reg reform changes still possible

A number of regulatory provisions may move before session ends as the House and Senate wrapped up committees and met to discuss combining multiple separate pieces of legislation into an omnibus regulatory reform bill.

As part of the regulatory reform process, NCACC has tracked a provision in S303 (Regulatory Reform Act of 2016) that would impose a three- or six-year statute of limitations on land-use violations that do not endanger public health or safety. Also among the regulatory provisions, H169 (Regulatory Reduction Act of 2016) contains a section repealing the state's electronics recycling program and repealing the ban on landfilling electronics. A conference report on the regulatory reform bills was not released at the time this was written, but could become public and pass on Friday or Saturday.
 
H483 (Land-Use Regulatory Changes) would have made wide-ranging, complex changes to land-use regulatory statutes. These changes would limit county authority to enforce ordinances, incentivize land-use litigation and curtail county ability to recover costs for substandard or unsafe infrastructure through performance guarantees. The bill was referred to Senate Rules Committee, which has not been scheduled again.
 
The House rolled out changes to S326 (Local Gov’ts/Blds/Structures/Inspection) in the Rules committee late this week, passing them Wednesday and moving the bill to the floor on Thursday where it was approved 110-1. The bill limits the number of times and areas where a local government can use periodic inspections to review possible violations at homes and apartments and limits the authority of counties to register and track repeat violators and recover fees from repeat violators. The Senate on Friday concurred with the House's changes to S326.

Elections law bill passes

The House and Senate this week passed a bill with new language making changes to various elections laws and requiring the Attorney General to represent local governments whenever the validity or constitutionality of local acts is challenged and to represent the state in most litigation. Among other elections changes, S667 (Elections Omnibus Revisions) adjusts the time requirements for canvassing after elections, directs the order of candidates on the ballot for Court of Appeals, adjusts voting tabulation districts in preparation for the 2020 census, sets uniform standards for precinct boundaries, requires maintenance of voting data by precinct instead of tabulation district, and directs a legislative study of municipal elections in even-numbered years.

Senate, House may move forward with LME/MCO changes

As the state continues to move toward a new model for physical and behavioral health service delivery through Medicaid reform and LME/MCO reorganization, the House and Senate tentatively agreed to a conference report on S371 (LME/MCO Claims Reporting/Mental Health Amends). This bill authorizes the Secretary of DHHS to direct mergers and acquisitions of LME/MCOs, including setting time lines and dates, and sets out minimum criteria when considering these actions. The bill also provides that no LME/MCO board will be exempt from board member category requirements. Counties in a multi-county catchment area with a population of at least 1,250,000 can still appoint board members differently than the current process; however, they must now get a resolution from at least three-quarters of the counties rather than each county in the area. The conference report does not include a provision prohibiting county LME/MCO disengagement until the Secretary of Health and Human Services adopts procedural rules. The report has not yet been taken up on the House or Senate calendar, but could move by the end of this week before adjournment.

House, Senate agree unanimously to child custody changes

The House and Senate unanimously agreed to a bill making it unlawful to transfer custody of a minor child outside of current adoption processes, foster care systems, legal custody transfers and relative care processes. H424 (Prohibit Unlawful Custody Transfer of Child) was rolled out by the Senate last week and passed the Senate Judiciary I committee on Monday before passing the Senate 50-0 and the House 109-0. Unlawful custody transfer of a child would be a Class A1 misdemeanor unless the transfer results in serious physical injury to the child which would be a Class G felony. The bill also directs DHHS to develop a more comprehensive program to help families at risk of adoption dissolutions. The bill now goes to the Governor for his consideration.

Other bill of interest

  • The legislature this week gave final approval to an amended version of H972 (Law Enforcement Recordings/No Public Record), which added language allowing governmental and nongovernmental organizations to establish and operate hypodermic syringe and needle exchange programs. The bill sets forth the requirements that the programs must offer and provides that a person found to be in possession of new or used needles, syringes or other injection supplies shall be immune from prosecution if they were obtained from or returned to a needle exchange program. H972 now goes to the Governor for consideration.  
  • S865 (State Health Plan/Administrative Changes/Local Governments), which increases the enrollment cap on local government employees and dependents from 10,000 to 16,000, passed its final vote today and will be sent to the Governor.    

This Week at the General Assembly

Visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/ncacc1908 or our website to view the latest episode of This Week at the General Assembly.
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