April 19, 2019
State Health Plan
NC Treasurer Dale Folwell visited New Bern (Craven Co.) on Tuesday to further promote his “Clear Pricing Project,” a proposal that recommends changes to the way the State Health Plan pays for medical treatment for state employees and retirees. Folwell told event attendees the intent of the Clear Pricing Project is to ensure solvency and transparency. He went on to say that his proposal would “save taxpayers $258 million annually and plan members $57 million in out-of-pocket expenses.” Not everyone is buying into Folwell’s Clear Pricing Project, however. The NC House recently passed HB184 (75-36), “Study State Health Plan Design,” a bill that would halt the Treasurer’s proposal and instead create a committee to study and report on redesigning the SHP for teachers and state employees. The bill is now in Senate Rules.
Rural Broadband Access
SB310, a bill that would remove restrictions prohibiting electric co-ops and their subsidiaries from seeking federal grant funds to provide broadband services, passed through the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee on Wednesday. “Electric Co-Op Broadband Services” is now awaiting approval in Senate Judiciary. The bill would eliminate some of the regulations that until now have kept electric co-ops from utilizing their existing power lines and fiber networks to provide high-speed internet, particularly in rural areas of the state. Bill sponsors believe this is a significant step in extending broadband access to the most rural parts of NC. A companion bill has been filed in the House under the same name, HB387, but it has yet to be heard in a committee. Both bills have extensive bipartisan support.
Abortion Bill – Cooper Veto
SB359, the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors’ Protection Act,” passed the Senate Monday night, 28-19. It then passed the House on Tuesday, 65-46. The bill, considered by many to be the most controversial and contentious thus far of the long session, would require care by a medical practitioner for a child born alive despite an abortion. It would also mandate reporting of a medical practitioner who fails to provide care, create two Class D felonies for violations of the statute, provide a safeguard against prosecution of the woman whose child was not cared for, create civil penalties for anyone who violates provisions of the statute, and amend the current murder statute. Democrats spoke out against the bill by arguing medical decisions such as these are best left to the doctors and patients. Their efforts were unsuccessful, and the bill was sent to Governor Roy Cooper (D-NC) on Wednesday. Thursday morning, Cooper vetoed SB359. With supermajorities now gone in both the House and Senate, the opportunity for a veto override no longer exists.
Spring Has Sprung!
Spring has officially sprung on Jones Street, which means spring break for legislators! Break schedules for the House and Senate are as follows:
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