North Carolina refuses Medicaid expansion
by Anna Oakes
The 2013 session of the General Assembly has been active since convening on Jan. 30. Below are updates on a few bills that the Watauga Democrat has been following.
For more information, visit http://www.ncleg.net or contact your local delegates: Jonathan Jordan (919-733-7727 or Jonathan.Jordan@ncleg.net) and Dan Soucek (919-733-5742 or Dan.Soucek@ncleg.net).
Medicaid expansion refused
Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday received Senate Bill 4: "No N.C. Exchange/No Medicaid Expansion" from the General Assembly for his signature. The bill -- approved by both houses this month and ratified Wednesday -- indicates the state's intention not to expand the North Carolina's Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.
As a result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year, states can choose whether or not to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid to adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Currently, Medicaid is only available to low-income parents, children, seniors and people with disabilities.
The legislation also rejects state participation in a state-federal partnership health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act. As a result, the federal government will operate North Carolina's new health insurance exchange, which will serve as one-stop shops or marketplaces for consumers to compare health insurance plans.
Enrollment in qualified health benefit plans through the new exchange is scheduled to begin in October.
Under Senate Bill 85, a city's or county's budget ordinance, bond order or any other ordinance change that requires a public hearing cannot be approved until at least seven calendar days after the public hearing is held.
The bill was introduced Feb. 13 and referred to the Senate rules committee Feb. 14.
Currently, an ordinance or any action having the effect of an ordinance may be adopted at the same meeting at which it is first introduced if all board members approve the ordinance, with the exceptions of the budget ordinance, bond order or any other ordinance change that requires a public hearing.
Public records violations
Senate Bill 125, introduced Feb. 21, would make it a Class 3 misdemeanor to deny access to public records for purposes of inspection and examination or to deny copies of public records. The maximum fine for a Class 3 misdemeanor is $200, with up to 10 days of community punishment for a first offense.
The bill was referred to the Judiciary I Committee Feb. 25.
Not much has happened with House Bill 79 since it was filed Feb. 6. It was referred to the House Committee on Government Feb. 11. If favorable, the bill will then be referred to the Finance Committee.
The bill, short-titled "Annexation Amendment," would put a state constitutional amendment before North Carolina voters that, if approved, would increase the percentage of votes needed to approve involuntary annexations from a simple majority to two-thirds and would ban municipal powers of extraterritorial jurisdiction statewide.
An ETJ, authorized by the state since 1959, is a defined area in the county outside of city limits that is subject to a city's zoning regulations, including the type, density and location of land uses.