Senator Harry Brown Constituent Update – February 14, 2013
Jones and Onslow Counties- 6th District
300-B Legislative Office Building
300 N. Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
February 14, 2013
The 2013-2014 session continues to move along rapidly. Joint Appropriations Subcommittees have started meeting to provide information to legislative members about the FY 2012-13 General Fund including about $20 billion of state appropriations. These committees include: Transportation, General Government, Justice and Public Safety, Education / Higher Education, Health and Human Services, and Natural and Economic Resources.
Below is a summary of some of the bills discussed:
- House Bill 4, UI Fund Solvency & Program Changes, passed out of the Senate and will be sent to the governor to be signed into law. This bill will reform the state’s unemployment insurance system with a balanced plan to pay off a massive federal debt that is stalling job creation and economic growth. Without an effective repayment plan, the federal government would continue to raise the taxes businesses pay on every employee, threatening existing jobs and making it harder to create and recruit new jobs.
- Senate Bill 76, Domestic Energy Jobs Act, passed out of the Senate Finance Committee and will be heard in the Commerce Committee. This comprehensive energy bill paves the way for a flourishing onshore and offshore energy sector. Energy exploration will ensure that we take advantage of abundant energy resources that exist in North Carolina – resources that could create thousands of new jobs, generate millions of dollars in new revenue, and lead us toward energy independence.
- Senate Bill 50, Discharged Veterans/Identity Theft Protection, passed out of the Senate and is now headed to the House. This bill will discourage identity theft by extending the length of time from 50 to 80 years in which sensitive information such as social security numbers is shielded from the public.
- Senate Bill 4, No N.C. Exchange/No Medicaid Expansion, passed out of the House and will be sent to the governor to be signed into law. This bill will exempt North Carolina from establishing a state-based health insurance exchange or a state-federal partnership exchange. It also directs the N.C. Department of Insurance to return unspent taxpayer funds awarded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services earlier this month to create a state-federal partnership exchange.
This bill will also not allow further expansion of the North Carolina Medicaid program. On Thursday, the Joint Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services heard a presentation about the results of the following performance audit Department of Health and Human Services – Division of Medical Services – Medicaid . This audit shows that the state Medicaid program has ineffective administrative practices with higher-than-usual administrative costs and a lack of oversight. Another state audit Overtime Payments Related to New Medicaid Payment System released Thursday shows that a dozen Department of Health and Human Services employees improperly collected $580,758 in overtime over the last five years while working to upgrade a Medicaid billing system. This supports the rationale for not further expanding Medicaid and wasting taxpayer dollars, a decision also supported by the Governor and DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos. The John Locke Foundation also has a good overview in a recent op-ed Saying No Is A Start .
- Senate Bill 14, Increase Access to Career/Technical Education, passed out of the House Education Committee. The slight difference in this bill as originally crafted is that this program will now focus on 11th and 12th graders who may have a better grasp on which area they would like to focus on.
As discussed earlier, my focus this session will be economic development and job growth. We have all heard the slogan “North Carolina – the most military-friendly state in the nation.” On Thursday, in a Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee meeting, a presentation showed that our State is 10th in the nation with 760,544 veterans or 13% of the state population. Almost 35% of the state’s population has some relationship with the military: military, veteran, spouse, parent, or a dependent. The State provides assistance for filing claims, scholarships, cemeteries and skilled nursing care. In the upcoming weeks, I will be developing initiatives that further demonstrate our State’s commitment to the military and would like your input. What ways do you feel that the State legislature can help preserve military-related jobs and encourage future investment?
This has been a difficult week for me since my mother, Beulah Brown, passed on Tuesday morning. She had been in declining health for several years. My family and I appreciate your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
We are ready to assist you with any questions, ideas or concerns you might have. You may contact the office via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (919) 715-3034. If you need to contact me in the district, my number is (910) 347-3777.