The North Carolina General Assembly 2020 short session came to a close last week. Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting various policy areas of interest. This week’s spotlight focuses on bills related to education, healthcare, and re-opening. Below is a list of highlighted bills that became law, as well as bills that were filed during the 2020 short session, but did not become law or await the Governor’s signature.
As of Thursday morning, in the state of North Carolina, there were 66,513 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 942, 238 completed tests, 1,362 deaths, 901 current hospitalizations, and all of the state’s 100 counties had seen confirmed coronavirus cases. As we all continue to feel the effects of the global pandemic and adjust to a new normal, we want to highlight a few ways our clients across North Carolina have worked to support residents and make this time a little easier for those throughout the state. Read more about what our clients are doing to help by clicking here.
For more information on COVID-19 in North Carolina, click here to visit the Department of Health and Human Services website, and be sure to stay up to date on the latest federal guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by clicking here.
This section includes a sampling of education-related bills that became law this short session, but is not all-inclusive. You can view all bills that became law this year here.
- Clarifies or modifies various testing requirements, including EOGs, EOCs, the ACT, diagnostic and formative assessments for grades K-3, and WorkKeys.
- Waives the requirements for calculation and display of school report cards, and waives certain requirements related to the evaluation of alternative schools and public school building-level reports.
- Repeals the requirement that a new school be selected for the Innovative School District (ISD) based on data from the 2019-2020 school year.
- Signed into law 5/4/20.
- $70M to DPI for certain public schools to provide a supplemental summer learning program in response to negative effects of COVID-19. At least $35M is to be used for students in grades 2 and 3 during the 19-20 school year, and up to 25% may be used for supplemental literacy support for students in grades 3 and 4 during the 20-21 school year not on track to meet 20-21 year-end expectations. Remaining funds are to be used for kindergarten and grades 1 and 4.
- $3M to DPI to provide non-digital remote instruction resources to students with limited connectivity.
- $10M to DPI for allocation conforming for school health support personnel for physical and mental health support services for students in response to COVID-19, including remote services.
- Signed into law 5/4/20.
- Waives the road test requirement to obtain a Level 2 limited provisional license. A Level 2 limited provisional license holder who receives a waiver would have to pass a road test in order to obtain a Level 3 full provisional license. The waiver provision would expire when the Division resumes administering road tests.
- Provides accommodations for students enrolled in a driver education course in the spring semester of 2020.
- Signed into law 6/19/20.
- Requires that the superintendent include specific strategies to improve early childhood learning along with measurable goals in the preliminary plan for improving the school performance grade and school growth score of each low-performing school in a low-performing LEA.
- Requires that DPI ensure that the comprehensive needs assessment tool used to provide support for low-performing LEAs include an examination of early childhood learning. The assessment would examine the following, at a minimum, for preschool through grade 3: training levels of early childhood teachers and support staff, the ratio of students to teachers, alignment of preschool curriculum to kindergarten through grade 3 curriculum, kindergarten transition supports, including collaboration with preschool educators, and kindergarten preparedness.
- Signed into law 6/30/2020.
- Directs the State Controller to transfer $75M in nonrecurring funds from the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund to DPI for the 2020-2021 fiscal year to fund an increase in ADM for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
- Directs DPI to transfer $3.9M from the cash balance in School Bus Replacement Fund to be used to fund an increase in ADM for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
- Appropriates $22M in nonrecurring funds for the 2020-2021 fiscal year from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) and directs OSBM to allocate those funds to the Department of Public Instruction to be used to fund increased ADM for low wealth counties due to the impacts of COVID-19.
- Signed into law 6/19/20.
- Gives Union County Public Schools the authority to allow each graduating senior to choose from one of the following two options regarding how grades for courses from spring 2020 would appear on official transcripts.
- Became law 6/11/20.
- Exempts certain school psychologists from North Carolina Psychology Board Licensure.
- Establish the School Psychologist Recruitment and Retention Pilot Program.
- Modifies the 2020-2021 school calendar requirements.
- Clarifies the use of school nutrition funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund and extend the period of use of these funds.
- Allows LME/MCO reinvestment plans to include providing assistance to public school units.
- Changes a Charter School report date.
- Designates the Superintendent of Public Instruction as an approver of private activity bonds.
- Revises the calculation of the school administrator intern stipend.
- Extends the grant term for the North Carolina Transforming Principal Preparation Program.
- Signed into law 6/29/20.
- Each K-12 school unit must adopt a school-based mental health plan that includes the minimum requirements set by the SBE and a mental health training program and suicide risk referral protocol consistent with the models developed by the SBE.
- Each K-12 school unit must provide its adopted mental health training program and suicide risk referral program to school personnel with training in the first 6 months of employment and then in the following school year and annually thereafter.
- The school-based mental health plan must be adopted by each K-12 school unit by July 1, 2021.
- Signed into law 6/8/20.
- Provides teachers, instructional support personnel, and assistant principals with salary increases based on years of experience.
- Provides bonuses for teachers and instructional support personnel.
- Encourages additional bonuses for teachers, instructional support personnel, and non-certified personnel.
- Clarifies principal salaries for the 2020-2021 fiscal year
- Provides funds to reflect an increase in the average salary of various public school employee positions.
- Signed into law 6/26/20.
- Allows funds appropriated for community college courses for prison inmates to be used for Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, or Associate of General Education degrees.
- Signed into law 6/30/20.
- Transfers $2M in nonrecurring funds from the School Bus Replacement Fund for North Carolina State University (NC State University). The funds would then be appropriated to the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina to be allocated to NC State University to be used for NC State University’s participation in a collaborative effort to accelerate the development of innovative manufacturing processes for biopharmaceutical products and as matching funds for a federal grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
- Transfers $3M in nonrecurring funds from the School Bus Replacement Fund for NC A&T State University.The funds would then be appropriated to the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina to be allocated to NC A&T State University to be used to support its agricultural research and cooperative extension activities by matching federal funds awarded to NC A&T State University as a land-grant university.
- Permits NC A&T State University to sell dairy products produced by the University Farm at University-owned facilities so long as any profits are used to support the Agricultural Research Program and the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at NC A&T State University.
- Signed into law 6/19/20.
- Requires the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina (UNC BOG) to monitor non-legislative annual employee salary increases in the amount of 5% or more granted at constituent institutions or within the UNC System Office to employees having annual salaries of $100,000 or greater or that would result in an annual employee salary of $100,000 or greater. The UNC BOG must also monitor new personnel positions created at constituent institutions or within the UNC System Office that have annual salaries of $70,000 or greater.
- Requires nine laboratory schools be established, but would allow a constituent institution to operate more than one laboratory school. This section would change requirements on when schools must open by, requiring 6 to be opened by the 2020-2021 school year, and an additional 3 by the 2022-2023 school year.
- Provides that up to eight institutions of higher education that represent a diverse selection of institutions be selected to participate in the NC Teaching Fellows Program, make a technical change, and raise the amount provided for all program participants to participate in the New Teacher Support Program to $2,200, with a priority for teachers serving in low-performing schools.
- Signed into law 6/30/20.
- Modifies the procedure to elect trustees to the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (AB Tech) to provide that the Asheville City Board of Education and the Buncombe County Board of Education would each be authorized to elect two trustees to the Board of Trustees of AB Tech. The act would apply to trustees elected on or after July 1, 2021.
- Became law 6/17/20.
- Transfers $10M in nonrecurring funds from the cash balance in the Education Lottery Reserve Fund and $5M in nonrecurring funds from the cash balance in the School Bus Replacement Fund to the Budget Code for UNC Board of Governors – Institutional Programs.
- Sets tuition at $500.00 per semester for North Carolina residents and $2,500 per semester for nonresidents at Elizabeth City State University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Western Carolina University.
- Signed into law 6/26/20.
This section includes a sampling of notable Healthcare related bills that became law this short session or await the Governors signature, but is not all-inclusive. You can view all bills that became law this year here.
- Aligns the state’s definition of development disability with the federal definition, allows the use of telehealth to conduct first and second involuntary commitment examinations during the pandemic, and amends certain appropriations and provisions related to the DHHS Block Grants.
- Allows the Chief Medical Examiner to appoint temporary county medical examiners during the duration of a declared states of emergency in North Carolina.
- The bill passed nearly unanimously in both the House and Senate. The Senate passed the bill in a 43-0 vote and the House in a 109-1 vote. The bill was presented to the Governor on Friday, June 26 and now awaits his action.
- Part IV outlines proper STEP therapy protocols and states that an insurer may not void or refuse a new contract with a prescribing provider because the provider has prescribed a medically necessary and appropriate restricted access drug or device and clarifies the exception process on behalf of the insurer.
- The bill passed the House in a 98-1 vote and passed the Senate in a unanimous 42-0 vote. The bill was signed into law Wednesday, July 1.
- Encourages front-line health care workers, law enforcement officers, and child care workers to have priority access to a COVID-19 vaccine when it is introduced.
- Pursues all available federal waivers for child welfare.
- Provides flexibility to the State’s teaching institutions for health care providers to ensure their students complete the necessary clinical hours.
- Directs the Division of Public Health (DPH) and the Division of Health Service Regulation (DHSR) within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), in conjunction with the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management within the Department of Public Safety to develop a plan for creating and maintaining a strategic state stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing supplies.
- Requires DHHS and the Division of Emergency Management within the Department of Public Safety to first consider North Carolina based companies when creating mobile response units.
- Allows any individual to petition the State Health Director to authorize immunizing pharmacists to administer a COVID-19 vaccine by means of a statewide order if one is approved by the CDC at a time when the General Assembly is not in session.
- Grants health care facilities and providers immunity from civil or criminal liability for acts and omissions in the course of arranging health care services if all of the following apply: the services are provided pursuant to a COVID-19 emergency, the health care services are impacted by a provider or facility’s decisions in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, or by the decisions or activities, in response to or as a result of the COVID 19 epidemic, of a health care facility or entity where a health care provider provides healthcare services.
- The bill passed by a unanimous vote in both chambers – 119-0 in the House and 46-0 in the Senate. The bill was presented to the Governor on Saturday, May 2 and the Governor signed the bill into law Monday, May 4.
- Appropriates funds for the Dorothea Dix campus relocation project and the child welfare component of NC FAST, as well as Coronavirus Relief Funds to go towards behavioral health and crisis services.
- Appropriates funds for the Medicaid program and Medicaid transformation and sets a new start date for Medicaid transformation no later than July 1, 2021.
- Removes the Granville County move for the DHHS headquarters and allows it to remain in Wake County.
- The House passed the bill in a 111-2 vote while the Senate supported the bill unanimously, 46-0. The bill was presented to the Governor on Friday, June 26 and now awaits his action.
- The bill would provide general employer liability protections by temporarily providing immunity from liability for claims arising from the contraction of COVID-19 provided any act or omission that does not amount to gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing.
- The bill passed the Senate in a 40-7 vote earlier this month before passing the House in a 109-6 vote shortly before they adjourned. The bill was presented to the Governor on Wednesday, June 24 and now awaits his action.
- The bill outlines general appropriations to the Coronavirus Relief Fund such as $300M to counties, $75M to the Department of Public Instruction for school nutrition services, and $7M to fund a hospital grant program that will help hospitals offset the expenses they have incurred for patient care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The bill also provides $2.6M to the statewide health information exchange network, NC HealthConnex, in order to implement programs that will help to better monitor the ongoing impact of COVID-19, develop public health dashboards to help health care providers identify trends and at-risk populations, provide care management teams with clinical histories and emerging at-risk patient trends to improve care, and develop a pilot analytics program that will help identify long-term care facilities at the greatest risk for COVID-19 outbreaks and target specific interventions, policies, and regulations most effective in preventing the spread of the virus in these facilities.
- The bill passed unanimously in both chambers, with a 47-0 vote in the Senate and a 114-0 vote in the House. The bill was signed into law law Wednesday, July 1.
- The bill establishes the COVID-19 Rural Hospitals Relief Fund and appropriates $65M to provide grants to hospitals designated as critical access hospitals in tier 1 and 2 counties as well as the COVID-19 Teaching Hospitals Relief Fund which appropriates $15M to go towards the state’s five teaching hospitals.
- The bill establishes the COVID-19 General Hospitals Relief Fund which provides $15M to go towards grants for hospitals not eligible for the Rural and Teaching Hospital relief funds.
- The bill passed unanimously in both chambers earlier in the short session, with a 48-0 vote in the Senate and a 120-0 vote in the House. The bill was presented to the Governor on Saturday, May 2 and was signed into law by the Governor on Monday, May 4.
- Clarifies the state’ statutory definition of educational service and clarifies that the delivery of an educational service is a nontaxable event and is not the sale of digital property with the exception of pre-recorded or on-demand webinars, which would be taxable.
- Provides a grace period from the sales and use tax enforcement for the sale of digital property, such as digital audio works or digital audiovisual works, of continuing education instruction approved by an occupational licensing board.
- The bill passed with unanimous support from both chambers earlier in the short session with a 48-0 vote in the Senate and a 118-0 vote in the House. The bill was presented to the Governor on Tuesday, June 2 and was signed into law by the Governor on Friday, June 5.
- Provides an Internal Revenue Code update, decouples the state from various federal tax provisions, allows nonprofits and governmental entities to apply for a state and local sales tax refund for certain digital property.
- Sets the insurance regulatory charge at 6.5% in statue.
- The bill passed the Senate in a 47-1 vote and the House in a 101-9 vote. The bill was signed into law by the Governor on Tuesday, June 30.
Last week, Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 147 extending phase 2 Safer at Home restrictions. The order also includes a facemask-wearing requirement in all public places where social distancing is not possible. Legislators proposed the following bills that would allow businesses left out of phase 2 to re-open:
- Would authorize indoor or outdoor exercise facilities, gyms, health clubs, and fitness center to resume operations.
- The total indoor capacity is limited to 40% of the authorized fire capacity.
- All employees must answer a health questionnaire and have their temperature taken daily prior to working. Any employee showing symptoms or with a fever would not be allowed to enter the establishment.
- All employees must wear face masks, except when actively leading a group fitness class.
- Sanitation spray bottles with disinfectant or disinfectant wipes that are EPA-approved for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) must available throughout the establishment.
- The bill was presented to the Governor on June 26 and currently awaits his action.
- Would authorize existing skating rinks and bowling alleys to open and resume operations, provided specific conditions are met.
- Temporarily allow minor league baseball stadiums with existing food and beverage establishments to have outdoor seating up to ten percent (10%) of the permanent seating capacity of the stadium provided certain conditions are met.
- The bill was presented to the Governor on June 22 and currently awaits his action.
- Would authorize amusement parks and gaming and business establishments with video games and arcade games, existing on March 10, 2020, to open and resume operations, provided specific conditions are met.
- Would authorize existing venues for receptions or parties to resume operations, provided specific conditions are met.
- The bill was presented to the Governor on June 24 and currently awaits his action.
- The bill would have temporarily authorized existing food establishment, private clubs or private bars, wineries, and distilleries to offer and operate outdoor dining and beverage service options, provided specific conditions are met.
- The bill was vetoed by the Governor on June 5 and currently sits in the House Committee on Rules.
Bills signed by the Governor this week
Senate Bill 595: Changes to Real Property Statutes Signed by Gov. 6/30/2020
House Bill 455 (= SB 384): Amend Various Motor Vehicle Laws Signed by Gov. 6/30/2020 House Bill 920: Condominium Association Changes Signed by Gov. 6/30/20
House Bill 1229: Unemployment Insurance Program Integrity Signed by Gov. 6/30/2020 House Bill 463: Education in Prisons Signed by Gov. 6/30/2020
House Bill 1050 (= SB 725): PED/Low-Performing School Districts Signed by Gov. 6/30/2020 House Bill 1096: UNC Omnibus Changes/UNC Lab School Funds Signed by Gov. 6/30/2020
Senate Bill 750: Capital Projects-Elizabeth City State Univ Signed by Gov. 6/30/2020
HB 1080 (= SB 727): Revenue Laws Recommendations Signed by Gov. 6/30/2020
House Bill 1168: Murphy Branch Corridor Reduction Signed by Gov. 6/30/2020 House Bill 736: Elective Share-Joint Accounts Signed by Gov. 6/30/2020 House Bill 873: System Development Fee/ADU Sewer Permit Signed by Gov. 6/30/2020
Senate Bill 113: Education Omnibus Signed by Gov. 6/29/2020
House Bill 694: Designate Legacy Airports Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
House Bill 1163: Guilford Funds/Cabarrus Land/Brunsw Shellfish Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
Senate Bill 816: CC Funds/CIHS Funds/CR Funds and Offsets Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
House Bill 32: Collaborative Law Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
Senate Bill 733 (= HB 1081): UNC Capital Projects Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
Senate Bill 817: Funds for UNC Enrollment Growth/FY 2020-2021 Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
House Bill 885: Only Allow Courts to Charge FTA Fee Once Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
House Bill 1072: GSC Technical Corrections 2020 Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
Senate Bill 208: COVID-19 Immunity/IHEs Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
Senate Bill 217: UI/Precinct Workers/2020 General Election Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
House Bill 1064: GSC Clarifying Bingo License Statute Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
Senate Bill 739: Personal Delivery Device/PDD/Delivery Robots. Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
House Bill 308: Regulatory Reform Act of 2020 Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
Senate Bill 364 (= HB 919): NC Commercial Receivership Act Revisions Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
Senate Bill 813: UNC Building Reserve/Certain Project/FY 20-21 Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
Senate Bill 488: DMV/MV Dealer Changes Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
Senate Bill 681: Agency Policy Directives/2019-2020 Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
House Bill 1087: Water/Wastewater Public Enterprise Reform Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
House Bill 1023: Coronavirus Relief Fund/Additions & Revisions Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
Senate Bill 212 (= HB 320): Capital Appropriations/R&R/DIT/Cybersecurity Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
Senate Bill 361: Healthy NC Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
House Bill 593: JCPC/Detention/CAA and Other Fees Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020
Senate Bill 782: Merchandise Sales Limit/Meck Dist Ct Signed by Gov. 7/1/2020