Legislative briefing for the week of August 28, 2017

09/01/2017

STATE

After finalizing the maps, the General Assembly will not return to Raleigh until mid-October. The nature of the October session has not yet been announced although there is wide-spread speculation that several constitutional amendments will be considered as will potential changes to the State’s Medicaid program.

Redistricting Update
After less than an hour and a half debate on Monday, the House signed off on its redistricting plan along party-lines. The Senate also approved its maps, after a lengthy speech by Senate President Pro Tim Phil Berger. The two bodies took up each other’s maps in committee on Tuesday, and voted to finalize the maps on Wednesday with the House voting 68-47 to approve and the Senate voting 30-15. Redistricting legislation is not subject to Governor Cooper’s veto, therefore the approved maps and data with explanation will now be presented to a panel of three federal judges. The judges will either sign off on the maps for the 2018 elections, order more changes, draw their own maps or send them to an outside map-drawing expert.

Court Hearing
On Monday, the state Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by Governor Cooper that claims legislators violated the NC constitution by passing a law this spring diminishing the Governor’s role in managing elections. The Governor’s lawsuit challenges a law that converts the State Board of Elections and all 100 county elections boards from having majority Democrats on panels with odd numbers of members to having boards with equal numbers of both parties.


FEDERAL

Congress returns from recess on September 5 and will focus on approving additional appropriations bill, raising the debt limit, and reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), all before the end of the fiscal year on September 30.  

Repeal and replace updates
On September 6 and 7, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is scheduled to hold hearings on stabilizing the Affordable Care Act’s insurance markets. Specifically, the hearings will feature testimony from state insurance commissioners and governors (from Massachusetts, Montana, Colorado, Tennessee, and Utah) on keeping premiums affordable and increasing insurance options for 2018. Our office will provide updates as they become available.

The HELP Committee also will hold a hearing on September 12 to examine ways to increase state flexibility in the individual health care market. Witnesses will include Mike Leavitt, former HHS secretary and governor of Utah; Allison Leigh O'Toole, CEO of Minnesota health exchange MNsure; Tarren Bragdon, president and CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability; Bernard Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente; and actuary Tammy Tomczyk. Another HELP hearing on stabilizing premiums is scheduled for September 14 and will feature testimony from Tennessee physician Manny Sethi; Marshfield Clinic Health System CEO Susan Turney; Anthem vice president Robert Ruiz-Moss; Young Invincibles' Christina Postolowski; and South Carolina insurance director Raymond Farmer.