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Old North State Report

June 5, 2023

Old North State Report – June 5, 2023


The General Assembly passed a bill on Tuesday with strong, bipartisan support that would grant the state's largest insurer new freedom to acquire other businesses without requesting permission from state regulators.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina says House Bill 346 is a top priority because it needs to restructure in order to stay competitive in the rapidly changing health insurance sector. It would enable the nonprofit organization to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to a newly formed holding company, which would be farther from the regulatory authorities' purview.

Some have expressed concern over the possibility that this holding company, which is also a nonprofit, might use the revenue the regulated insurance company generates to invest in other healthcare organizations and related businesses.

Even though State Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey vehemently opposed it, Attorney General Josh Stein demanded changes, and State Treasurer Dale Folwell pushed to delay passage at the last minute, the bill advanced quickly.

The bill was approved by the state Senate 41–5 and is now on its way to Governor Roy Cooper who can sign it into law. On Tuesday, Cooper's office would only say that he will review the bill.

Read more by WRAL News


On Thursday morning, the state Senate passed a bill legalizing online sports betting with a vote of 37-11, opening the door for North Carolina to join an increasing number of states that permit sports wagering. House Bill 347 advanced swiftly through the Senate, clearing three committees before being brought up for a vote on the floor in just one week.

Since the Senate's version of the bill includes horse racing and pari-mutuel betting, or "pool betting," a new vote in the House is required to pass the updated version. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) announced to reporters on Thursday that the House will approve the amendments made by the Senate early next week.

Once it has received full approval from both chambers, the bill will then go to the Governor for his signature. Sports betting would be acceptable after a year from the date that the legislation becomes a law if it is approved and signed.

With the exception of youth sports, House Bill 347 would make it legal to wager on almost all sports in North Carolina, both in-person and online. Professional sports, college sports, amateur sports, and e-sports (like video game tournaments) would all be eligible for wagering. These include the Olympics, NASCAR events, college basketball, and other major sporting events.

Sports betting would be subject to state regulation by the North Carolina Lottery Commission. The legislation would make it possible for 10 to 12 businesses in the state to obtain sports betting licenses. They would be able to open sportsbooks close to venues for professional sports, such as the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte or the PNC Arena in Raleigh and accept online wagers.

After five years, according to general assembly staff estimates, sports betting could generate more than $70 million in state revenue. Of that, more than $40 million would go to the general fund. A portion of the bill's state revenue would go toward a fund to aid those with gambling addiction as well as collegiate athletics at some UNC system schools and youth sports in North Carolina. A new North Carolina Major Events, Games and Attractions Fund would also receive a significant portion of the state's revenue from sports betting.

Read more by Spectrum News

Read more by WRAL News


Tuesday marked the first time that a bill to legalize marijuana use for specific medical purposes was heard by a North Carolina House committee. Despite spending about 30 minutes debating Senate Bill 3, also known as the NC Compassionate Care Act, the House Health Committee did not vote on it. Members of the House Health Committee questioned the selection of the qualifying illnesses as well as whether the distribution of cannabis could be restricted to non-smoking forms only. Others showed an interest in advancing the proposal.

If the House Health Committee votes in favor of the measure, it will advance to the House Finance Committee. The legislation was approved by the Senate earlier this year with a vote of 36 to 10.

Senator Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick), the second-most powerful lawmaker in the Senate, is the bill's sponsor. While undergoing chemotherapy as part of his cancer treatment, Rabon, the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, credited medical marijuana with saving his life.

According to the proposed legislation, doctors could formally certify that a patient's use of marijuana has more positive health effects than negative ones. Patients with more than a dozen illnesses, including those with terminal illnesses or who are receiving hospice care, as well as those with epilepsy, cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder, may be eligible. Ten organizations, each with up to eight sales centers, would receive licenses from the state commission under the proposed system.

Read more by The Carolina Journal

Read more by Fox News


On Tuesday, the State House advanced House Bill 855, a $1 billion package of mental health services that some hope will help reduce drug abuse, crime, homelessness, rising suicide rates, and other social ills.

Representative Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth) is the primary sponsor of the Republican-backed legislation, which was filed last month and had its first committee hearing on Tuesday. The money would be distributed among numerous multimillion-dollar programs spread out across the state, each of which would concentrate on a different aspect of the problem.

The majority of the funds would be used to keep hospitals and doctor's offices open, especially in rural areas. In addition to facing economic hardship, the state's rural areas have been more severely affected by the opioid epidemic than the state's wealthier urban areas. Medicaid has $225 million set aside to pay providers more than usual for providing mental health care to Medicaid participants. Rural health providers would receive an additional $50 million in loan repayment assistance.

In order to expand their behavioral health programs, public schools would receive $40 million. A suicide hotline would be enlarged, and mobile crisis response teams would be established with an additional $40 million. In addition to hundreds of millions more, there is $20 million earmarked for reducing homelessness and $78 million designated for drug rehab centers and related projects.

Lambeth's proposal would spend $150 million on law enforcement in addition to the $100 million it would spend increasing the number of beds in state-run mental hospitals.

The committee unanimously approved the bill, which was the first of several steps before it could possibly become law.

Read more by WRAL News


A bill that would give other members of the executive branch and the General Assembly some of the Governor's appointment authority was approved by the North Carolina House on Wednesday. The General Assembly's power to appoint members of the executive branch, including those who serve on the Council of State, is expanded by Senate Bill 512.

The House revised the bill by removing a section and substituting language to increase the number of members on the Board of Governors from 24 to 28. The Senate's original bill version included changes in appointment power over the N.C. Utilities Commission.

If the House and Senate chambers meet to discuss the bill in conference committee, the North Carolina Utilities Commission might be negotiated back in.

The following appointments for boards and commissions were modified by the current bill:

  • The Economic Investment Committee
  • The Environmental Management Commission
  • The Commission for Public Health
  • The Board of Transportation
  • The Coastal Resources Commission
  • The Wildlife Resources Commission
  • The N.C. Railroad Board of Directors
  • The UNC Health Care Board of Directors

The chairs of the Environmental Management Commission, Board of Transportation, and Coastal Resources Commission would be chosen by their respective boards rather than by the Governor.

The bill now goes to the Senate for a concurrence vote. If the Senate decides not to concur, the House and Senate will resolve their differences through a conference committee before sending the bill to Governor Cooper. Despite there being sufficient support in both chambers to override it, Cooper will probably veto the bill.

Read more by The Carolina Journal