NC Child Legislative Update–April 13-17
We have officially entered the fast and furious phase of the legislative session. The House bill introduction deadline was yesterday, so we saw hundreds of new bills this week. To add to the mayhem, the crossover deadline is fast approaching, which means that all non-appropriations bills must pass either the House or the Senate prior to April 30 to remain eligible for the remainder of session.
HB832, Revise Certain Policies/Child Care Subsidy — This bill would reinstate the prorated copayment for child care subsidies and redefine the family unit to include only parents and stepparents, which will allow other relative caregivers to continue to access child care subsidies. This bill is part of NC Child’s legislative agenda. It has been referred to the House Health Committee. HB743 would also redefine the family income unit but does not include the provision on the prorated copayment.
HB847, Amend Laws Re: Medical Treatment for Minors — This bill would require minors to get parental consent for all medical treatment, including mental health, substance abuse, and STIs. NC Child opposes this legislation as it would result in fewer teens receiving needed medical care.
HB879, Juvenile Code Reform — This is the House version of SB331, which includes a variety of code revisions with the purpose of improving due process, confinement, and reentry of juveniles. The bill is on NC Child’s legislative agenda.
HB816, Labor/Provide Relief for Caregivers — This bill would require employers to provide four hours of unpaid leave during a 12-month period to allow relatives to care for family members. While four hours is not very much time, this is the first time I have seen a bipartisan bill of this nature. HB818 is another bipartisan bill that would require employers to allow employees to use paid sick leave to care for relatives.
HB648, Prohibit Toxic Flame Retardants in Bedding — This bill would ban toxic flame retardants from bedding products. The bill has been referred to the Regulatory Reform Committee, Judiciary II Committee, and the Finance Committee.
HB669, Juvenile Law Changes/Abuse/Neglect/Dependency — This bill proposes various changes to the laws pertaining to juveniles placed in nonsecure custody as well as a proposed reasonable and prudent parent standard.
Bills on the Move
SB423, Foster Care Family Act (HB407)– The purpose of this bill is create a more normal family environment, reduce stigma, and improve outcomes for children in foster care. Specifically, the bill would open the door for children in foster care to participate in normal, age-appropriate activities like spending the night at a friend’s house, playing a sport, and getting a driver’s license. The bill would also allow DHHS to pursue a Medicaid waiver that would could help keep children in foster care with severe emotional disturbances in their homes and out of institutions. Lastly, the bill would provide liability insurance for foster parents. This bill passed the Senate Health Care Committee and Judiciary I Committee this week. Its next stop is the Senate Insurance Committee. The House version passed the Judiciary III Committee.
HB424, Fostering Success — Like SB424, his bill would allow 18-year-olds to remain in foster care up to 19-years-old. This policy change would likely help youth in foster care achieve a more successful transition to independence. The House bill was passed by the House Judiciary III Committee this week.
HB539, School Playgrounds Available to Public — This bill would allow local boards of education to make outdoor playgrounds available to the public. The bill passed the House Judiciary IV Committee this week and has been referred to the House Education Committee. The Senate has already passed a version of this bill.
HB580, Ban Smoking in Foster Care Settings/Infants — This bill was heard in the House Health Committee this week, but was not voted on after committee members voiced concerns.
SB343, Student Assault on Teacher/Felony Offense — This bill would make it a felony offense for any student 16 or older without an IEP to assault a school employee. This means that a student could be charged with a felony without making any physical contact with a school employee. Despite bipartisan concerns, the bill passed and moved to the Judiciary II Committee.