United States: North Carolina General Assembly Week In Review - May 01, 2015

Legislature Considers Flurry of Bills in "Crossover" Week

Members of the North Carolina General Assembly worked long hours and passed over 200 bills this week in advance of their self-imposed "crossover" deadline of Thursday, April 30th. "Crossover" is the date by which a bill that is unrelated to taxes, fees or spending must be passed by one chamber in order for it to remain eligible for consideration by the other. Those bills that did not meet crossover will likely not be heard through the rest of the 2015-16 session. For its part, the House passed over 70 bills during 10 hours of floor debate, including everything from reinstating capital punishment to allowing Sunday hunting. The Senate, by contrast, passed bills on everything from prohibiting the political activities of teachers to mandating insurance coverage for autism. Both chambers have adjourned until next week, when they will turn their attention to the state budget- writing process.

What Crossed Over

HB 56: State Health Plan/Rehired Retiree Eligibility: Allows retirees who return to work in non-permanent positions to keep their coverage options under the state health plan.

HB 158: Skin Cancer Prevention: Prohibits teens under the age of 18 to use a tanning bed.

HB 195: Allow Substitution of Biosimilars: Amends the North Carolina Pharmacy Practice Act to allow for the substitution of interchangeable biosimilars.

HB 306: NC Cancer Treatment Fairness: Requires insurers to cover cancer drugs taken orally in the same manner that treatments via intravenous infusions or injections are covered.

SB 478: In-State Tuition for Certain Vets/Fed Prog: Makes in-state tuition rates available for certain veterans.

HB 528: Chiropractor Co-Pay Parity: Would prohibit insurers from charging a higher co-pay than they do for primary care physicians for medically similar services. Does not apply to the NC State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees.

HB 539: School Playgrounds Available to the Public: Authorizes school boards to make school property available to the public for recreational purposes.

HB 661: Teacher Recruitment and Scholarships: Seeks to improve education quality in North Carolina by creating a special scholarship fund to help recruit teachers to the state's poorest school districts.

HB 647: Epi Pens in All Child-Serving Businesses: Requires all child-serving businesses to have epi-pens on hand.

HB 774: Death Penalty: Permits PAs, nurses, and emergency medical technicians to administer the lethal injection to inmates sentenced to the death penalty. Does not require the physician to be present at that time, but does require the physician to pronounce the person dead.

HB 860: Limit Soldiers Community College Tuition: Limits community college tuition for re-enrolling active duty service members to make sure that the maximum rate cannot exceed available tuition assistance.

HB 925: Require Hospitals to Offer Influenza Vaccine: Requires hospitals to offer inpatients, aged 65 or older, to offer them the flu shot.

Bills Not Subject to Crossover

H562: Second Amendment Affirmation Act: A bill that would prohibit doctors from asking their patients about firearms ownership, among other provisions, is still alive after bill sponsors attached an appropriation to the bill. Bill sponsors did this in order to keep the bill alive, which would have no longer been eligible after the crossover deadline otherwise. The North Carolina Medical Society is opposed to this particular provision of the bill.

H760: Regulatory Reform Act of 2015: Provides for various administrative reforms and eliminates or updates many outdated regulations.

H795: SEPA Reform: Would require fewer publicly-funded projects to undergo additional examination for environmental impacts.

Medicaid Reform: There are still several Medicaid reform proposals floating around in both the House and Senate. Legislators are primarily debating between two proposals- one to allow for both managed care organizations and accountable care organizations, and another to allow for provider-led entities to administer the program.

Bills That Missed Crossover Deadline

H 317: Medical Marijuana for Terminally Ill Patients: After an emotional House Judiciary I committee hearing in March, a measure to allow for the use of medical marijuana failed unanimously.

H 142: Require Safety Helmets/Under 21: Would have allowed for persons over the age of 21 who meet a set of requirements to ride a motorcycle without a helmet on. The bill failed in the House Rules committee after concerns from committee members and several groups, including the NC College of Emergency Physicians and AAA Carolinas.

S346: Enact Stricter Immunization Requirements: A bill to eliminate the religious exemption for immunizations for children never received a committee hearing after senators were hearing concerns from citizens across the state. President Pro Tempore Phil Berger's office also sent out a press release proclaiming that the proposed legislation was "dead."

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