- Protect Health Care Freedom
- Postsecondary Education/Illegal Aliens
- Medical Liability Reforms
- Contacting State Legislators
- Contacting the Governor
BILLS NEEDING IMMEDIATE ATTENTION
Introducers: Reps. Stam, Barnhart, & Hollo
Status: Passed by House, now in Senate Judiciary II Comm.
(A similar bill, S 23, has been introduced by Sens. Clary, Rouzer, and Pate and is also in Senate J II.)
H 2 says its purpose is “to protect the freedom to choose health care and health insurance.” What it would do specifically is exempt North Carolinians from the provisions of federal health care reform that require most Americans to have health insurance, buying it for themselves (often with subsidies) if it is not provided by an employer. H 2 would also require the state Attorney General to join legal suits being brought against federal health care reform by several states.
This bill is a bad one on several fronts:
1) It is the requirement that everybody have health insurance which makes federal reform financially workable, which leads to . . .
2) Apparently the “freedom” mentioned in the bill’s title includes the “freedom” to be uninsured, the “freedom” not to be able to get medical care except at the emergency room, the “freedom” to be excluded from health insurance or have your child excluded because of a pre-existing condition, the “freedom” not to be able to keep a young-adult child on your insurance policy while s/he gets established as an adult, the “freedom” to have annual caps and lifetime caps on insurance claims, etc, etc.
3) The federal health care reform law is being tested in the federal courts. If it loses there, it doesn’t matter what the General Assembly has said. If it wins there, it doesn’t matter what the General Assembly has said.
4) North Carolina’s Attorney General has already determined that entering the existing suits is not worthwhile and would merely waste the resources of his office. The AG is a publicly elected member of the Executive Branch of the state’s government. For the state’s Legislative Branch to try to instruct him on how to run his office is probably itself a violation of the separation of powers and therefore unconstitutional. At the very least it creates a completely unnecessary constitutional confrontation.
What to do: You should contact your state Senator immediately. (Contact information is at the end of this RR.) Even if you know that your senator is going to support H 2, s/he needs to know that not all constituents agree with this bill. You might inquire about whether it is the freedom to be uninsured that your senator supports. Remind him/her that North Carolina now has well over 1.5 million uninsured people, and each of us who gets insurance through our employer is only one pink slip away from joining that 1.5+ million. Also contact Governor Perdue immediately, asking her to veto this bill if it comes to her desk. Her training and early work experience were in the field of health care, and she understands the impact of having more than 1.5 million uninsured North Carolinians.
Introducer: Rep. Cleveland
Status: House Education Committee
H 11 would prevent undocumented immigrants from attending any of the state’s universities or community colleges. (Other than in quoting the bill’s title, we will not use its offensive term for undocumented immigrants. We do not believe than any of God’s children are “illegal,” nor are the connotations of “alien” appropriate for anyone created in God’s image.) Currently undocumented students are permitted to enroll in both the UNC system and the community college system, but they are required to pay out-of-state tuition (which, being greater than the cost of their education, subsidizes the tuition of in-state students). Not surprisingly, there are very few undocumented students enrolled. Estimates for the community college system are that they number about 200, out of hundreds of thousands enrolled in the system.
The NC Council of Churches supports educational opportunities for all of the state’s young people. These undocumented students were brought to this country by their parents, often at a very young age. We cannot see the benefit of excluding them from higher education, especially when the state’s government agencies, businesses, and nonprofits are seeking people who are bilingual for a variety of positions. Why would we say to these young people, “We want you to take your excellent academic record and obvious potential and use them to mow lawns or flip burgers for the rest of your life”? There’s nothing wrong with those jobs or the people who fill them, but if someone has the ability and the drive to be a school teacher or a priest or a neurosurgeon, shouldn’t they have that choice?
What to do: It’s not certain how quickly this bill will move, but it is certain to move. If you want to weigh in on it, you should go ahead now and contact both your representative and your senator. Again, do so even if you are sure they will support excluding students from higher education.
Introducers: Sens. Stevens and Brunstetter
Status: Passed 2nd reading in the Senate
S 13 would give the Governor authorization to reduce state spending for the remainder of this fiscal year (which ends on June 30) by at least $400 million. The bill specifies transfers from the three funds established as part of the tobacco settlement: the Golden LEAF Foundation (which provides assistance to communities affected by the decline of tobacco), the Health and Wellness Trust Fund (which focuses on improving the health of North Carolinians, especially through reductions in the use of tobacco), and the Tobacco Trust Fund (which assists people hurt by the decline of tobacco).
S 8, No Cap on Number of Charter Schools
Introducer: Sen. Stevens
Status: Senate Education Comm.
Current law limits the number of charter schools per school district to five and statewide to 100. S 8 would eliminate those caps.
H 41, Tax Fairness in Education
Introducers: Reps. Stam, Hager, and Collins
Status: not yet assigned to a committee
H 41 would create a tax credit of $1,250 per semester per child for the parents of children being educated in nonpublic schools (private or home schools). The credit is available to parents with taxable income of $100,000 or less (for married filing jointly, and comparable amounts for other filing statuses), and is available only for students who have been enrolled in public schools in the year before the one in which the credit is being claimed. The bill also allows county commissions to give up to $1,000 per child per year to parents with children in nonpublic schools.
S 3, Broaden Sweepstakes Law
Introducer: Rep. Vaughan
Status: Senate Judiciary II
S 3 is the latest round in the state’s effort to prevent video poker, sweepstakes parlors, and other video-based gambling. The General Assembly has banned these practices, but the gambling industry has gone to court and had parts of the most recent law overturned. This bill is the state’s latest effort to keep video poker and sweepstakes parlors out of the state.
S 33, Medical Liability Reforms
Introducers: Sens. Apodaca, Brown, and Rucho
Status: in Senate Judiciary I Comm.
S 33 would change medical malpractice suits in the following ways:
• The standard to prove malpractice in emergency services would be higher. To win such a suit, someone who had been injured would have to show that the health care provider’s conduct was gross negligence, wanton conduct or intentional wrongdoing, not simple negligence.
• Malpractice suits could have separate trials on the issues of liability and damages, but with the same trier of fact (i.e., judge or jury).
• There would be a limit of $250,000 for noneconomic damages. Future economic damages (defined as future medical expenses, loss of future earnings, etc.) could be made on a periodic basis, rather than a lump sum payment.
• A verdict awarding damages would have to specify the amounts for noneconomic damages, for present economic damages, and for future economic damages.
H 33, State Law to Provide for Acceptable IDs
Introducer: Rep. Cleveland
Status: not yet assigned to a committee
H 33 would require certain specified forms of identification to be used for governmental and law enforcement purposes. They include: a driver’s license, the state’s photo ID card for non-drivers, a military ID, a passport, or an official document issued by the US government to show the person is legally present in the US. Clearly missing is the Matricula Consular issued by Mexican consulates and recently recognized by Durham as valid ID. And, in case Durham missed the point, the bill also prohibits local governments from accepting any other form of ID and repeals any “contradicting” local government decision.
H 36, Public Contracts/Illegal Immigrants
Introducers: Reps. H. Warren and Cleveland
Status: not yet assigned to a committee
H 36 would prohibit any entity contracting with state or local governments from employing undocumented immigrants, would require contractors to use the federal E-Verify program to be sure none of their employees is undocumented, and would make them sign a statement certifying the verification. It would be a felony to submit a false certification, and contractors would be prohibited from doing business with the state or local government for a year if they knowingly used undocumented immigrants.
H 28, DHHS to Provide Law Enforcement Information
Introducers: Reps. Burr, Guice, and Ingle
Status: Referred to House Judiciary Subcommittee B
H 28 would require the state’s Department of Health and Human Services to give law enforcement agencies and officers certain personal information on those receiving services from DSS and for whom there is an active investigation or outstanding criminal process. Information to be disclosed would include: full name, date of birth, Social Security number, addresses and phone numbers (past and present), names of family members, and addresses and phone numbers for immediate family members.
H 31, Unlawful to Use Mobile Phones While Driving
Introducer: Rep. Pierce
Status: In House Rules Comm.
(A similar bill, S 36, has been introduced by Sen. Dannelly.)
H 31 would prohibit the use of cell phones and “additional technology associated with” cell phones while driving. The prohibition does not apply if the vehicle is stationary or if the call is being made to report an emergency to the appropriate agency. (While the NC Council of Churches doesn’t have a position on this bill, it would probably have an impact on the behavior of a lot of our pastors and church members!)
Contacting your State Legislators
By telephone: All legislative offices can be reached through the legislative switchboard – (919) 733-4111.
By e-mail: Legislative e-mail addresses follow the pattern of . (Example: Speaker Thom Tillis’ address is Thom.Tillis@ncleg.net.) If you have any question about the spelling of your legislator’s name or whether your legislator’s e-mail address uses a nickname, you can confirm addresses at the General Assembly’s web site: www.ncleg.net. Click on “House” or “Senate” and look for Member Lists.
By postal service mail: All legislators can be addressed at: North Carolina General Assembly, Raleigh, NC 27601-1096.
To find out who your legislators are, go to the General Assembly’s web site: www.ncleg.net. Look for “Who Represents Me?” near the top of the homepage. You will find a variety of ways to search, including through your nine-digit ZIP Code. (And there’s a link to the Postal Service if you don’t know yours.) For those without Internet access, local Boards of Elections can be asked for assistance.
For legislative information:
• A wealth of information is available at the General Assembly’s web site: www.ncleg.net. Look for bill information, texts of all bills, current status and legislative history for bills, information on all members (including e-mail addresses, office telephone numbers, etc.), committee memberships, calendars for the next legislative day, legislative districts, and links to state government agencies. You can even listen in on floor sessions.
• You can get the current status of a bill by calling (919) 733-7779. This is not a toll-free call.
To Contact the Governor
By phone: (919) 733-4240
By Fax: (919) 733-2120
By mail: Governor Bev Perdue
Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301
By e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org