Changes to state workers rules, health care law near passage

Posted July 25, 2013

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— Gov. Pat McCrory will have more latitude to hire and fire state employees under a bill that will soon be headed to his desk.

The measure passed the House 101-12. The state Senate is scheduled to take up the measure for a final vote later today.

The measure raises the number of at-will employees, political appointees that McCrory can hire and fire, from 1,000 to 1,500. It also streamlines the process for disciplining rank-and-file employees.

That new discipline process was rewritten in the Senate after the bill left the House.

"That's probably better than the process than we had in there," said Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash.

Remaking the state's personnel laws has been a high priority for McCrory, and passage of the bill represents a legislative victory for him. 

That part of the bill was relatively well received, with only one or two lawmakers objecting

Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, said that adding more exempt employees would inject more politics into the executive branch of government.

"That seems to undermine our civil service," he said.

While the bill was in the Senate, lawmakers attached a provision that would require hospitals to disclose their costs. It also limits how hospitals can go about recovering unpaid bills.

Those provisions have been a high priority for Senate leaders. Debate on that provision focused on a technical issue in the debt collection provision. Lawmakers said they would correct the matter in a later bill.

That anticipated tweak would allow hospitals to place liens on large tracks of property if their owners have not paid hospital bills. They would be restricted from going after the home where a former patient lives. 


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