July 14, 2020
The NC General Assembly has effectively wrapped up the short session of the 2019-2020 biennium. With their adjournment on July 11th, any bill that did not get signed into law will now have to be reintroduced in the long session to be considered. As legislative leaders indicated, there was not one singular budget bill considered during this session. Instead, multiple bills included appropriations in specific areas of the State budget. Public policy was also changed in many areas of State government. Most notably, there is a new law that sets July 1, 2021 as the date certain that the Standard Plans for Medicaid will be implemented, and the authority to transfer the needed funds to make the transformation has been provided.
COVID-19 played a large role in the way in which the session played out. There were funding bills directed at addressing State and community needs related to COVID-19. Legislators kept a close eye on the State revenue forecast to determine where the budget needed shoring up. In fact, the July revenue figures will determine additional work that may need to be done prior to the long session that will begin in January 2021.
To that end, the NC General Assembly is now in recess until September 2, 2020 when it will resume to potentially address 3 specific areas:
Medicaid Transformation Signed Into Law:
The Medicaid Funding Act was signed into law by Governor Cooper. This accomplishes something that the Governor and the General Assembly were not able to do last year: 1) provides funding for the transition with the claims lag and other implementation costs;
2) establishes provisions that are needed to support Medicaid Transformation.
Related to Medicaid Transformation–
Medicaid Funding Act Additional Appropriations:
The Medicaid Funding Act does more than address Medicaid Transformation. The new law also includes several provisions that are related to work under the purview of NC DHHS:
School-Based Mental Health:
A new law, SL 2020-7, requires the State Board of Education to develop a school-based mental health plan for the State. The State Board will also establish minimum requirements for each school district to develop a school-based mental health plan and a mental health training program and model suicide risk referral protocol. Deadlines for provisions of the new law to be completed include:
The Superintendent’s Working Group on Student Health and Well-Being report of 5/31/18 includes recommendations that the State Board must use for the school-based mental health plan.
Raise the Age of Juvenile Jurisdiction: On December 1, 2019, North Carolina became the last State to change the age of juvenile jurisdiction and bring adolescents 16 up to 19 years of age into the juvenile justice system. Last year, the General Assembly included funding for new positions to work with this population. Two bills were signed into law that further strengthen the juvenile justice system.
SL 2020-4, 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act:
SL 2020-32, State Operations/Increase Federal Funds Use, authorizes the transfer of $1.575 billion from the State’s Reserve and $150 million from the Local Government Coronavirus Relief Fund to allow for continuity of operations in certain areas. $370 m will be used for wages, overtime, personal protective equipment, in-home monitoring and other supplies for State entities such as mental health institutions, prisons, community corrections, juvenile facilities, and veteran’s homes.
SL 2020-3, COVID-19 Recovery Act, includes multiple provisions related to education and health care provisions in the pandemic.
SL 2020-80, Coronavirus Relief Fund/Additions & Revisions, appropriates $5,000,000 to be allocated to group homes for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, or both, to support the implementation of recommended Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for preventive measures to address the introduction and spread of COVID-19 among residents and staff of these facilities.