Today @NCCapitol (6/19): House takes swing at Medicaid reform; Senate keeps swinging at House budget

Posted June 19, 2014

These flags are displayed inside the state Senate chambers.

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, June 19. Here's what's going on at the legislature and around state government. 

MEDICAID: House leaders plan to roll out a Medicaid reform proposal Thursday afternoon that largely embraces the approach taken by Gov. Pat McCrory for reforming the state's health insurance system for the poor and disabled. The draft three-page bill was distributed to members of the House Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday night

Gov McCrory 060414 HB 1181 (2014): House Medicaid Reform Plan Hospital room House Medicaid proposal embraces governor's plan The bill, crafted by Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, and other House leaders, would set the stage for accountable care organizations, or ACOs, groups of doctors and other health care providers that work together in order to make sure patients are healthier – and therefore, cost the health care system less in the long run.  

Although the House does not adopt language proposed by McCrory outright, it does provide a framework into which the governor's plan would fit. It makes a nod to the Senate plan by saying North Carolina would move toward "full capitation," meaning most of the risk for expensive patients rests with providers, over the next decade. 

House members are scheduled to review this proposal at roughly the same time that members of the Senate's Appropriations Committee will continue reviewing the differences between the House and Senate Medicaid budgets.

Senators expect to hear from the governor's budget office about projections they used in forecasting next year's Medicaid costs. Both the governor and House budget proposals take a far more optimistic line than the Senate, where lawmakers worry about a looming Medicaid shortfall. 

CATCHING THE OMNIBUS: After rolling out three hodgepodge bills dealing with the environment, regulatory reform and criminal justice matters on Wednesday, the next omnibus vehicle will be carrying a set of election law changes.  

A proposed committee substitute sent to lawmakers Wednesday night tinkers with early-voting rules and other elections matters for 2014, 2016 and beyond. 

COAL ASH: "Consumers shouldn’t foot the bill to clean up coal ash," Attorney General Roy Cooper said Wednesday, criticizing the Senate's coal ash cleanup plan. "Many families and businesses are already struggling and simply can’t afford to pay more for power while utilities continue to earn high profits. Coal ash must be cleaned up to protect our water, and the utility can afford to pay for it more than consumers can." The Senate bill puts a moratorium on rate increases until early next year and then leaves it up to the Utilities Commission to decide whether Duke Energy can raise its rates to pay for the cleanup of 33 coal ash ponds across the state. 

CALENDAR: The General Assembly publishes full legislative calendar daily. Here's what @NCCapitol will be keeping an eye on:

ENVIRONMENT: Despite a contentious vote over wetland protections, a House committee on Wednesday approved a suite of environmental rule changes that will compete with a more controversial Senate version. The bill, listed as Senate Bill 38, would among other things prohibit local governments from regulating fertilizer, exempt some old animal waste lagoons from environmental rules and roll back some required air quality reporting. Environmental groups say the House measure is a big improvement over the Senate version, which passed that chamber in late May.

House Speaker Thom Tillis House roundup: Pension, guns, religion bills pass REG REFORM: The latest attempt by lawmakers to remake North Carolina's regulatory climate was narrowly approved Wednesday morning by two House committees. The 35-page bill covers everything from claiming life insurance benefits to zoning for fraternity and sorority houses to health coverage for autism treatment. It began as a Senate proposal to regulate aftermarket headlights but underwent a "gut-and-amend" transformation – a process used by lawmakers to use the shell of a bill that has cleared one chamber to advance legislation in the other – when it appeared in the House Finance Committee.

CRIME: House leaders unveiled a package of changes Wednesday that would make it a felony to give cellphones to inmates or steal a Venus flytrap, raise the retirement age for judges and make some graffiti a felony. The omnibus, Senate Bill 594, includes several provisions prompted by the kidnapping of Frank Janssen, the father of Wake County prosecutor Colleen Janssen – a crime that was allegedly orchestrated via cellphone by a drug dealer the younger Janssen had sent to prison.

PARTS: Advance Auto Parts will create 600 jobs in Raleigh by the end of 2017, officials said Wednesday.

HEMP: A state House panel on Wednesday approved a measure to allow the use of CBD oil for medical treatment of seizure disorders. CBD stands for cannabidiol, a compound found in marijuana. It's being increasingly used by doctors to treat intractable seizure disorders, especially in children, for which other therapies are ineffective and often toxic themselves.

JENNETTE'S PIER: Outer Banks tourists and residents are voicing opposition to a legislative proposal to sell Jennette's Pier, an attraction that's part of the North Carolina Aquariums. Lawmakers will consider the provision as they meet over the coming days to hash out competing versions of the state budget. The proposed sale wasn't included in the Senate budget, but House leaders consider it an opportunity to see how much the state can make off the Nags Head property – and how that money might bolster other state programs.

LOTTERY: Senate leaders and lottery officials spent roughly an hour Wednesday morning trashing a House budget proposal that would both require the state gambling enterprise to produce more money and add restrictions on advertising. "The author of this language wants to see the lottery fail and wants to put the lottery out of business," lottery director Alice Garland told the Senate Appropriations Committee.

WATER: A bill on its way to McCrory could allow two high-profile North Carolina legal cases to move forward after they were blocked by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this month. The bill could help people affected by the CTS site near Asheville as well as families hurt by contamination near Camp Lejeune.

COMMERCE: The state will turn its marketing and job recruitment functions over to a private nonprofit under a bill that cleared the legislature Wednesday. Senators voted 49-0 in favor of the bill, which has been on McCrory's wish-list since before he took office.

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  • lazydawg58 Jun 19, 2014

    No man is safe while the legislature sit.