June 3, 2022
A bill to expand Medicaid in North Carolina received final approval from the state Senate on Thursday with near unanimous support and no debate. It will now move to the state House, where it faces an uncertain future. The procedural vote passed 44-1, with one Republican opposing the measure. Shortly before its initial passage on Wednesday, GOP Senate leader Phil Berger called on his Republican and Democratic colleagues to urge House members to back the bill. House Bill 149 faces an uphill battle in the remaining month before this year’s legislative session is expected to come to an end. House Speaker Tim Moore on Thursday told reporters he's opposed to the bill in its current form and that the measure doesn't have the votes to pass in his chamber. Read more
North Carolina is one step closer to joining most of the rest of the country by legalizing medical marijuana, as the state Senate approved it Thursday with bipartisan support. There was also some bipartisan opposition to the bill. But in the end, Senate Bill 711 passed 35-10. Once the medical marijuana bill heads to the House of Representatives it will likely face more opposition than it did in the Senate. But Sen. Michael Lee, a Wilmington Republican who was one of the bill’s main sponsors, urged quick passage “so that folks in our state can get the relief that they need when they’re suffering from these very serious and in some cases life-threatening diseases.” The vote came just minutes after the Senate also voted to expand Medicaid, in a wide-ranging bill that also includes many other health policy changes. Read more
North Carolina Democrats are making their pitch to the Republican-controlled state legislature to offer a summer tax break. Senate Democrats want to use 20% of the $6.5 billion budget surplus to give North Carolinians age 18 and older who are licensed drivers a $200 tax rebate. Republicans in both the Senate and House have told reporters that they would prefer longer-range tax cuts, like speeding up those passed in the 2021 budget, to spending one-time money. Read more
As Kody Kinsley, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, answered a lawmaker’s question about how to get more nurses trained in North Carolina’s community college system, he noticed a group of school children walking by the floor-to-ceiling windows of the North Carolina Legislative Building. He didn’t miss a beat. “Oh, there’s me in fourth grade,” Kinsley dropped in mid-sentence, before continuing his answer to lawmakers at the first part of his official confirmation hearing. This week, Kinsley’s appointment as DHHS secretary took critical steps to becoming official some five months after he started the job. Since January, when his predecessor Mandy Cohen left the role and shifted to work in the private sector, Kinsley has been in an acting position. Read more
New legislation aims to resurrect a North Carolina tax-credit program for renewable energy projects that was phased out in 2015 but has still netted more than $1 billion for homeowners and companies in the years since it ended. House Bill 1123, which was filed last Thursday and sent to the finance committee this Tuesday, mirrors legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2007 establishing a 35% credit on investments in new solar, wind, biomass and other energy sources that don’t rely on burning fossil fuels. In a significant change, though, the new legislation would limit the credits to solar projects. Read more
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