Senate Happenings

By Joyce Krawiec

I am honored to represent those of you in NC Senate District 31. I never forget who I represent, and my door is always open to hearing from constituents.

This has been an extremely long session. We were scheduled to be home by July 4, and we are still in session as of early October. If all goes according to plan, the session should be finished by the time this article is printed.

Governor Cooper vetoed the bipartisan budget passed by both chambers of the Legislature in late June. The Governor said he would not sign a budget that did not include Medicaid expansion. We encouraged the Governor to accept the budget and call the legislature back for a special session to deal with Medicaid as well as other health care issues. The budget contained many essential provisions. Since the veto, the Legislature has moved forward with mini budget proposals to provide necessary funding for some budget items. Primarily, we have been focusing on budget items that had consensus agreement with the Governor.

A number of those items are as follows:

  • Funding for school safety initiatives
  • Funding for federal matching block grants for the Department of Health and Human Services
  • 5% raise for correctional officers and other prison employees
  • 5% raise for state agency employees
  • Funding for Medicaid transformation
  • 5% raise for State Highway Patrol
  • 5% raise for SBI/ALE
  • Funding to address the backlog of rape kits

Other budget items are continuing to move through this process.

The House did manage to override the Governor’s veto. There were many misleading reports. There were never any announcements that votes would not be taken, quite the contrary. An audio of the previous session, the speaker, clearly states there will be votes taken at the morning session at 8:30.

The Legislature was preoccupied for some time with the redrawing of Legislative maps.

The Court had ruled that some House and Senate maps were “gerrymandered” and must be redrawn. The House and Senate were only allowed 2 weeks for this complicated procedure.  We completed that process, and now the court will decide if they are acceptable. Our Constitution clearly states that the Legislature will draw maps, but the Court has been trying to take over that role. The maps that were passed out of the Senate were drawn in a clearly transparent, open, bipartisan process. There were only a few members to vote against the maps. My district will change dramatically if the maps are accepted. Currently, I have most of rural Forsyth County. The new map substitutes East Winston for many rural areas. I will continue to represent Kernersville, Walkertown, and Davie County if I am blessed to be reelected.

I want to talk about a few things that I have been focused on. As you know, I chair Health Care and Department of Health and Human Service appropriations. Obviously, primarily, I’m focused on those issues.

I sponsored several important Health bills in this session. SB86 is a bill to allow small businesses to purchase insurance for employees under the same rules that big companies enjoy. This will open up a new market for small businesses and dramatically reduce premiums. The Governor refused to sign the bill, but he did allow it to become law without his signature. I’m very proud of this bill.

We are still in conference committee meetings on SB361, Health Care Expansion Act. There are many parts to this bill that will make improvements to our Health Care system. Some of the provisions in the bill address Oral Chemotherapy, Pharmacy Benefit Managers, Step Therapy protocol (requiring insurance companies to pay for expensive proven drugs without having to try unproven cheaper drugs). There is also a provision to deal with Certificate of Need, which is a very onerous process that prohibits competition in the Healthcare Market.

My particular focus is child welfare/foster parenting/adoption. I am working closely with DSS and child advocacy agencies to improve this very broken system. I am determined to make drastic improvements in this arena. Some of the stories that I hear from foster parents and social workers are heartbreaking. Children are suffering, and we can’t allow it to continue as is.

Thank you for reading this update, and please contact my office if we can help in any way.

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