Legislative Update

Office of the Freshman Democratic Leader

Representative Duane Hall

2 October 2013

The town of Cary, which I represent, has long had the practice of destroying weapons seized as the result of illegal activity. A recent bill that I opposed, will take the discretion away from all NC towns and local law enforcement to destroy weapons that have been used in even the most heinous crimes.  A link with my interview with WRAL is below

WRAL Rep. Duane Hall  (This link is slow to open).

DHHS

Over the past week, the taxpayers of North Carolina were dealt even more frustrating news regarding the Department of Health and Human Services.  The Department has come under fire for paying an advisor well over $30,000 for just one month of work.  Additionally, Carol Steckel, who was in charge of the state’s Medicaid program, has chosen to resign this week after only 8 months on the job.  The citizens of North Carolina deserve more from their government than this.  These are just the latest developments regarding a long line of disconcerting reports concerning the management of this department, the largest in state government.  There will be a meeting of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services in October; however, we all must continue to work diligently towards holding officials and institutions accountable to the citizens of North Carolina, even as the Governor continues to defend malpractice at DHHS.

The Affordable Care Act

I’m sure you are all very much aware the open enrollment for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act began yesterday, Tuesday, Oct. 1.  Amid national political activity and misinformation that is out there, please take the time to ensure you understand how to help constituents navigate the new exchanges.  The Kaiser Family Foundation has posted a profile for our state in relation to the Affordable Care Act that provides some background on the issue, and includes helpful links for understanding the new law.  The Kaiser Foundation also has an interactive calculator to help you see what the law means in dollars and cents: for example, a family of four living in Raleigh, earning $40,000 a year will be able to purchase a premium for just under $2,000 a year.  

NC Governor Reaffirms Plan to Privatize Medicaid

The Governor’s office reaffirmed his interest in turning the state Medicaid program into a managed care system after he seemed to throw the state's commitment to that idea into question.

Read more here: http://projects.newsobserver.com/node/28409#storylink=cpy\

Teachers Consider Walkout in Protest to Poor Working Conditions

Teachers are considering a statewide walkout to get lawmakers' attention.  They are fed up with education funding cuts, lay-offs, lack of raises, and even more importantly, what they see as a lack of respect for their profession.  There is no denying teachers have a tough job and the importance of having a good teacher in every classroom.  But feeling underpaid and under-appreciated, teachers across the state are considering a walkout.

Read More here: http://triangle.news14.com/content/news/k12/699770/nc-teachers-consider-walkout-to-protest-poor-working-conditions

Group Accuses Administration of Sabotaging Healthcare Law

A group that included health care professionals on Thursday called for state officials to provide more information to people about changes to health care regulations under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Read more here: http://www.wral.com/group-nc-officials-sabotaging-federal-health-care-law/12904757/

Kaiser Family Foundation NC Profile: ACA

This link will take you to the Kaiser Foundation’s NC Profile for healthcare reform.  The Foundation offers helpful information for understanding the reform.  An interactive calculator is available to predict how much families can save as a result of the law.

Read more here: http://kff.org/health-reform/state-profile/state-exchange-profiles-north-carolina/

Everything You Need to Know About the ACA

By 2014 every American, with some very few exceptions, will have to have some form of health insurance or be fined. The idea is that more healthy people will buy insurance, and the money the insurance companies save on them will cover the costs of insuring the older and sicker people who will now be in the insurance system.

Read more here: http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/26/health/obamacare-open-enrollment/?hpt=he_c1

Newspaper Calls For DHHS Secretary to Resign

“[The Secretary] must immediately resign her position as the secretary of our state’s Department of Health and Human Services. If she does not, [the Governor] has to make the decision for her. [She] helped raise money for [his] gubernatorial campaign last fall. Her department’s hires are foul-smelling of campaign worker exchanges. The governor’s campaign against a corrupt culture in Raleigh has long left the station.

Read more here: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2013/09/22/newspaper-calls-for-wos-resignation/

DHHS Paid Chief of Staff $37,000 Severance for 1 Month of Work

The Department of Health and Human Services paid Thomas L. Adams $37,227.25 as "severance" after he served just one month as chief of staff at the department.

Read more here: http://www.wral.com/dhhs-paid-chief-of-staff-37-000-severance-after-one-month-of-work/12909199/

NC Medicaid Director Resigns After Only 8 Months

The state Medicaid director has resigned after only eight months on the job, raising more questions about troubles at the state’s program to provide health care to the poor.

Carol Steckel, who took on responsibility for holding state Medicaid costs in check and for reshaping it into a managed care program, submitted a resignation letter Monday to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/09/23/3221753/nc-medicaid-director-resigns-after.html

Moral Monday Continues on During Interim

About 60 people protested Monday night in Yadkinville against the Republican-controlled General Assembly, saying that legislation passed this year erodes voting rights and hurts North Carolina families.

Read more here: http://www.journalnow.com/gallery/news/article_d0043a1c-24bc-11e3-b21d-0019bb30f31a.html

Experts Discuss Recent Legislation Passed By General Assembly

The summer saw plenty of state legislative action on voter rights, health care and education, and the results rankled many state constituents, the panelists said. Don Taylor, associate professor of public policy, moderated the panel of three state political experts—Chris Fitzsimon, founder and executive director of North Carolina Policy Watch; reporter Lynn Bonner of The News and Observer; and John Hood, president and chairman of the John Locke Foundation think tank.

Read more here: http://www.dukechronicle.com/articles/2013/09/24/professors-mull-effects-north-carolina-legislation

Students Sound off On NC Politics

The state of North Carolina's political situation has encountered controversy since the start of last summer. Many of these political changes have direct effects on students, such as the voter ID law signed Aug. 12. In order to determine how the student body feels about the government's actions, The Chronicle's Tony Shan and Linda Yu sat down with Duke students to discuss North Carolina politics.

Read more here: http://www.dukechronicle.com/articles/2013/08/28/students-soundoff-north-carolina-politics

NC Fails to Adequately Report DWI Cases

A 2006 law requires that court administrators make detailed information about DWI cases available on its website. The new report says the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts has not made much of the information available.

Read more here: http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=9262306

NC School Board Reconsiders Banning “Invisible Man”

Randolph County, N.C. is reconsidering a ban on Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," a novel that focuses on black identity in the first half of the 20th century.  In a 5-2 vote this week, the Randolph County School Board of Education banned the book from county school libraries after the mother of an 11-grader complained. The mother claimed Ellison's work was inappropriate for 11th grade summer reading, citing both language and subject matter.

Read more here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/09/north-carolina-school-board-reconsiders-banning-ralph-ellisons-invisible-man.html

Poll Reveals Republican Vulnerability in NC

Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-learning firm based in Raleigh, recently looked at eight state Senate districts held by Republicans, finding two leaning Democrat and six more in the toss-up category. PPP pollster Tom Jensen writes that “the political landscape has shifted in such a way that Democrats have a lot more opportunities to eat into the Republican majority next year than could have ever been imagined even six months ago.”

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/09/25/3227743/dome-new-ppp- Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Representative.  Feel free to contact me at duane.hall@ncleg.net or phone me on my cell at (919) 673-7927.  If you prefer “snail mail,” you can write to me at NC General Assembly Room 1019 16 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601.  Please be advised that my Legislative Assistant, Wanda Benson will be in the Raleigh office and can be reached by phone at (919) 733-5755 or e-mail halldla@ncleg.net

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