January 31, 2019

2019 Legislative Session – What We Might Expect

The long session of the NC General Assembly began on January 9th and we can expect much more lively debate, hopefully in more public forums than in recent years. As you know, the November 2018 elections turned over enough seats in the House from Republican to Democrat that it potentially reduced the use of the super majority votes to override vetoes from the Governor. This alone can create a dynamic that will require much more compromise and discussion. The House is no longer predominantly held by Republican legislators but the Senate remains that way. This dynamic could stymie the passage of bills or at least slow them down.

The House and Senate Appropriations Committee members worked through the holidays to develop a draft budget. Keep in mind these deliberations included some legislators who no longer hold their offices. New legislators are in town now, which could lengthen debates on hot budget issues and provide an opportunity to identify new budget items. Additionally, when the Governor submits his proposed State budget to legislators this year, they may not be as likely to put it aside as quickly as in the past two years: with the change in the super majority, his veto authority becomes a factor in their process.

Another exciting possibility is a discussion and possible action on expanding Medicaid. In the public BH/IDD system, expansion could allow more individuals who cannot afford services to qualify for Medicaid so they can be assessed and begin receiving treatment they previously could not afford.

We can also look for legislative provisions that will begin making the detailed statutory changes needed to facilitate Medicaid Transformation. This could mean changes to the 122C statute that governs MH/IDD/SUD services and it could mean changes to the insurance laws.

So what are we watching for at the start? The General Assembly went into session officially January 9th but they are not scheduled to go back into session until January 30th. By that time, we are looking for the new committee assignments. They have not been posted yet. There have been some major changes in health and human service leadership so we will likely be working with several new legislators. One change that has come recently is the resignation of Senator Louis Pate due to health reasons. Sen. Pate has chaired Senate Health and Human Service Appropriations and the Senate Health Care Committee. An individual will be appointed in his place to serve this two-year term. That individual, as is the case for all changes in seats, will not necessarily have the same expertise and may be assigned other committee assignments.

Some legislative committee meetings are on the calendar. To keep track of the scheduled meetings go to: https://www.ncleg.gov/LegislativeCalendar/.

Upcoming Event:
NC Justice Center is organizing a 2019 Medicaid Expansion Advocacy Day on February 27, 2019.