Committee gives nod to bills helping Belhaven hospital, laying groundwork for Graham statue
Posted September 16, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Senators have begun their legislative sprint to the end of session, pushing more than a dozen bills through a key committee Wednesday morning.
Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, said top Senate leaders anticipate wrapping up their work sometime in the first few days of October.
Among the bills the committee sent to the full Senate were the following:
Belhaven: House Bill 20 is now something of an omnibus health care bill, tweaking a number of provisions related to rural hospitals and medical procedures. The highest-profile provision in the measure is aimed at helping Belhaven reopen its hospital.
That hospital closed a year ago after it was acquired by Vidant, a company that runs a number of hospitals. While there are plans to put an urgent care facility in the town, community leaders say that's not enough. Mayor Adam O'Neal led a walk to Raleigh to make his community's case and spoke to the Senate Rules Committee.
"The bureaucrats in Raleigh are stopping us from opening our hospital up. It's wrong. We need some help," O'Neal said.
A provision in the bill would would exempt the hospital from certain state licensing rules so that it may be reopened quickly.
Graham: Committee members voted to begin the behind-the-scenes work to put a statue of the Rev. Billy Graham in Congress.
Each state places statues of esteemed citizens either in the Capitol's Statuary Hall or in another section of the building.
North Carolina lawmakers are paving the way to replace former Gov. Charles Aycock's statue with Graham's, although that push met with angry resistance when it was heard by the House earlier this year.
The measure passed the Rules Committee with little debate.
Needles: House Bill 712 will allow the state to establish pilot programs in up to four counties for drug needle disposal programs. The bill will give limited immunity to people disposing of used syringes in approved drop-boxes, rather than threatening them with arrest for residual drugs contained in the needs.
Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford, said the program would help keep needles from being improperly disposed and accidentally sticking members of the community.
Fraud: The committee approved the Senate's version of House Bill 482, which is designed to curb "employee misclassification." This is a practice in which companies say someone is an independent contractor even though he or she should be treated as an employee. Those switches are made to save on worker's compensation and unemployment insurance premiums and can leave workers in the lurch when they are injured or laid off.
The Senate's bill differs from its House counterpart in how it lays out the definition of who is an employee and who is contractor.