This is the first newsletter you have received from me this Session. We have been getting organized and it has been a very busy and fast-paced Session to date.
I am pleased to inform you the Speaker has appointed me to serve in leadership roles as Vice-Chair for the Joint House and Senate Business Caucus; Vice-Chair of the House Commerce and Job Development Subcommittee on Military and Agriculture; and Vice-Chair of the House Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee.
I now represent portions of Hoke, Robeson and Scotland Counties. Please contact me when you have questions or concerns pertaining to legislative issues. My contact information can be found at the bottom of this newsletter.
This week, the House and Senate gave final approval to Senate Bill 4, designed to block a state-sponsored insurance exchange and the expansion of Medicaid coverage to low-income residents. Despite our best efforts, the legislature didn’t provide us with the ability to move forward with the Medicaid expansion.
Even though I am very concerned about Federal spending and our national debt, I believe the General Assembly made a serious mistake in rejecting Medicaid Expansion.
This expansion, while virtually costless to the state, would have created up to 25,000 jobs, and would have produced a net savings to the state budget of $65 million by 2021. Rejecting Medicaid Expansion will not make the cost of caring for those 600,000 North Carolinas go away. It will be perhaps a fatal blow to many rural hospitals.
Rejecting Medicaid Expansion will not save North Carolina taxpayers one dime. In fact, our workers will continue to pay the same amount of the federal portion of the expansion as everyone else in the country. Our tax dollars will be going to support the health care of people in other states and not North Carolina. The net outflow of funds from North Carolina to other states over the next eight years will be almost 15 billion (see footnote 1).
SB 4: House and Senate vote to send Medicaid bill to McCrory’s desk
On Tuesday, the state of North Carolina rejected two central tenants of the federal Affordable Care Act under a bill that was approved by the House and Senate.
The House voted 74-40, while the Senate voted 31-16. Gov. Pat McCrory also supported the bill and signed off on a proposal to prohibit Medicaid expansion in North Carolina.
The governor and Republican leaders in the House and Senate have remained firm in support of the measure, despite some GOP administrations around the country embracing Medicaid expansion. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the latest Republican leader to embrace Medicaid expansion.
Group Home Bill
HB 5: Group home, Alzheimer’s fix leaves NC legislature
The House and Senate unanimously voted to approve a group home fix designed to ensure thousands of North Carolina residents – who live with mental health illnesses – will receive funding and prevent removal from group homes and special care units.
State lawmakers gave a final okay to the bill on Tuesday that will correct a glitch in last year’s budget law that kept individuals from accessing nearly $40 million to compensate for the loss of funding regarding personal care services, and daily assistance with activities such as eating, bathing or chores.
SB 76: NC Senate approves fracking bill, sends to House
The Senate gave key approval Tuesday to legislation rolling back some of the safeguards in the state’s natural gas drilling law. A final Senate vote is expected Wednesday, after which, the bill will head to the House. The bill makes many changes to Senate Bill 820, the 2012 law opening the state to gas drilling. Most notably, it removes the requirement that state lawmakers must approve rules before the first well can be drilled. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources the authority to start issuing permits on March 1, 2015, without the legislature’s say-so.
NC Redistricting maps
Attorneys wrap up arguments in NC redistricting (Associated Press)
After two days of legal sparring over North Carolina’s political maps, a panel of judges now must decide whether dozens of districts drawn by Republicans amounted to racial discrimination, or if they have more to do with partisanship and following redistricting rules than race. The Plantiffs’ lawyers argue the maps re-segregate North Carolina and split more counties and precincts than needed.
A panel of three Superior Court judges heard about 10 hours of testimony in Raleigh over lawsuits filed by Democratic voters and civil rights and election advocacy groups seeking to declare unconstitutional the maps approved in 2011 and used in last year’s elections for the first time.
Principals united on matters of merit pay, testing and school grading system
On Wednesday, House Speaker Thom Tillis led the second day of “Education Week,” hearing from school principals across North Carolina who voiced their concerns about proposals related to merit pay, student assessment, funding and school grading, among other topics.
End of grade tests have been notoriously unpopular among educators who complain that high-stakes testing narrows curricula. In preparation for these tests, teachers tend to avoid inquiry-based projects utilizing critical thinking and employ “skill-n-drill” techniques that prepare students only for the test. The A-F grading system has also become a growing concern. The system measures schools’ success based on student test scores and graduation rates, among other “snapshot” measures. However, student growth over time does not factor into a school’s grade.
Please feel free to contact me when you have questions or concerns pertaining to Legislative matters.
Room 542– Legislative Office Building
300 N. Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601