NC legislature wraps up session

The General Assembly’s 2013 long session has come to a close. The House and Senate adjourned on Friday, July 26, and will not return to Raleigh – unless there is a veto – until the start of the short session on May 14, 2014.

As a rule, legislation that passed just one of the two chambers is still eligible for passage next year. Recommendations made by legislative study commissions and oversight committees that meet between now and the short session may be turned into legislation and introduced next year. The General Assembly passed a two-year budget for the state but will make adjustments to that budget during the short session next year.

Looking back on the session, the Autism Society of North Carolina, its lobbyists, and its grassroots partners were successful in discussing a variety of issues related to our legislative targets including education, health care, and civil rights for people on the autism spectrum and their families. We had a number of successes, but there is still much work to complete.

The final budget contained few cuts, but also no funds for new or expanded services. Current Medicaid services were funded with the addition of $750 million due to increases in people served and services used. Early intervention services were cut by $10 million. The budget allows the Department of Health and Human Services to plan reforms to create an integrated Medicaid managed care program across all services, but the agency must seek legislative approval before submitting any final plan to the federal government.

Autism Insurance – Halfway There!

The NC House passed a bill requiring autism insurance coverage in private and state employees’ health plans, but the Senate chose not to take up the bill this session. Funding for the cost to the state employees’ plan for autism treatment was included in the budget, but the bill still must pass the Senate to become law. The Senate may take up the bill in the 2014 short session.

Tax Credits Change to Scholarships

The tax reform bill repealed the children with disabilities education tax credit, but the legislature replaced it with a similar scholarship program that improves on the tax credit by removing limits based on tax liability and income. The legislature and the governor have verbally committed to studying vocational programs for students and adults with disabilities, despite a study bill not passing this session.

Voting Rights Changes:

The legislature passed sweeping changes to voting and elections late in the session, adding new policies in the final days of the session, some of which would have threatened the ability of people with guardianship to vote. A number of troubling provisions remain in the bill, but our advocacy helped to remove the most objectionable part on those under guardianship. The section was moved to a study committee.

Thank you for all of your grassroots work this session! Legislators hearing your stories and how proposed laws would impact you and your family makes a huge difference in our advocacy work. ASNC will be publishing several more blogs with detailed information about legislation. If you have questions about these or other public policy issues, please contact Jennifer Mahan, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, at 919-865-5068 and jmahan@autismsociety-nc.org.

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One Response

  1. You all have done a wonderful job but I know there’s more to be done. As someone who has worked with special needs children for the last 18 years it seems like our school systems in N.C.are all different when it comes to our special needs children I wish we could all be on the same page and put the needs of all our children 1st.

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