State Government
Senate Passes Sweeping Criminal Justice Reform Bill PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 13 May 2021 09:07
The North Carolina State Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 300, a wide-ranging criminal justice reform bill. The bill includes a provision negotiated by bill sponsor Sen. Danny Earl Britt, Jr. (R-Robeson) and the Legislative Black Caucus to allow a family to view unredacted body camera footage within five business days after a serious police incident that results in death or serious injury. 
 
“This clarification delivers on our promise to review the current laws related to body-worn camera footage at the appropriate time," Sen. Britt said. “I want to thank the Legislative Black Caucus for working with me to find a suitable change to make sure families have the chance to view the footage as soon as possible.” 
 
The amendment permits a law enforcement agency to petition a court if it believes the footage should be redacted in some way (e.g., if the video captures a confidential informant). 
 
"Over the past decade Republicans in the General Assembly have been dedicated to evaluating the criminal justice system and implementing reforms that have broad support,” Sen. Britt said. “We’ve corrected decades of overcriminalization. Senate Bill 300 continues that trajectory and responds directly to concerns about police conduct. Our work isn’t complete, but we’ll continue to come together to address these critical issues.” 
 
Senate Bill 300 includes several bipartisan reforms, including new mental health and wellness strategies training, psychological screenings, and an “early warning” system to track and document the use of force.
 
Over the past several years, the Republican-led legislature has enacted historic criminal justice reforms, including Raise the Age, the Second Chance Act, and the First Step Act, which overturned the mandatory minimum sentences imposed by then-Sen. Roy Cooper.
 
Senate Bill 300 also includes provisions to: 

Create a public database of law enforcement officer certification suspensions and revocations.

 

Require all law enforcement officer fingerprints to be entered in state and federal databases.
 
Authorize law enforcement agencies to participate in the FBI’s criminal background check systems.
 
Create a database for law enforcement agencies of "critical incident information" which includes death or serious bodily injury.
 
Require that written notification of Giglio material (credibility issues that would make an officer open to impeachment by the defense in a criminal trial) be
reported.
 
Allow health care providers to transport the respondent in an involuntary commitment
 
Provide in-person instruction by mental health professionals and develop policies to encourage officers to utilize available mental health resources.
 
Create an early warning system within each law enforcement agency to monitor officer actions and behaviors that might indicate a problem such as collisions, complaints, and critical incidents.
 
Require the creation of a best practices recruitment guide to encourage diversity.
 
Expand mandatory in-service training for officers to include mental health topics, community policing, minority sensitivity, use of force, and the duty to intervene and report.
 
Create a duty for officers to intervene and report excessive use of force by another officer.
 
Increase penalties for those who resist or obstruct an arrest and while doing so injure a law enforcement officer.
 
Senate Bill 300 increases the penalty for rioting for those who cause more than $1,500 in property damage, or those who cause serious bodily injury to another person, or anyone who brandishes a dangerous weapon or uses a dangerous weapon. That provision directly responds to seeing peaceful protests being taken over by rioters that destroyed business districts across the nation and in downtown Raleigh. 
 
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. 
 
Senate Passes Bill That Raises Marriage Age To 16 PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 12 May 2021 16:25

The Senate passed a bipartisan bill on Wednesday that raises the age to marry to 16 in North Carolina and limits the age difference among the parties to 4 years.

Senator Nickel said, “This bill will help keep our kids safe and modernize our antiquated marriage laws. Senate Bill 35 will end North Carolina’s place as a destination for child marriage and a sanctuary state for statutory rape.”

14 and 15-year-old children will no longer be able to be married in North Carolina under this bill. Alaska is the only other state to currently allow 14 and 15-year olds to get married.

Senator Nickel said, “I applaud my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for coming together to reach a compromise on this issue. A 49-year-old man will no longer be able to get married to a 17 year old child, within our borders, when this bill becomes law.”

The compromise reached at the last minute will still allow 16 and 17-year-olds to get married - but only to those who are less than four years older. This puts North Carolina in line with a bigger majority of states.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 May 2021 08:54
 
DHHS Program Helped 40,000-plus Households During Pandemic PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 12 May 2021 08:45
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 Support Services Program has helped more than 41,800 NC households isolate or quarantine during COVID-19.
 
Launched in August 2020 in COVID-19 “hot spots” throughout the state, the Support Services Program focuses on communities hit hardest by COVID-19.
 
In addition to food assistance such as home-cooked meals and groceries, the Support Services Program offered recipients financial relief payments, COVID-19-related supplies (such as masks or hand sanitizer), transportation to medical or vaccine appointments, and medication delivery to individuals who needed support to be able to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19. The Support Services Program started in 20 counties and later expanded to 29 counties.
 
The types of services offered through the program will now narrow because original program funds have been spent. NCDHHS is currently finalizing the continuation of food assistance through the program and will open applications for assistance soon. Food assistance has been one of the top requested services from recipients.
 
Anyone who tests positive for or who has been exposed to COVID-19 and is not fully vaccinated needs to quarantine or isolate. But many North Carolinians struggle to safely quarantine or isolate and still access basic needs such as food and medications.
 
Four vendor partners across the state — ADLA Inc, Duke University Health Systems, Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency, and Quality Comprehensive Health Center — administered the original program.
 
The Support Services Program was featured by Boston-based Partners in Health as part of a series of case studies on care resource coordination during COVID-19. North Carolina also has been recognized nationally for its work to reach underserved and historically marginalized populations and deliver equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
 
The program enabled 88% of recipients who received support through Duke University Health Systems successfully isolate or quarantine. Respondents to a recent Duke survey of recipients, one-third of whom were Spanish speaking, also said it was “easy” or “very easy” to ask for services (86%) and they felt less at risk of contracting COVID-19 because of the services provided (81%).
 
"The Support Service Program has been critical to our fight against COVID-19," said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. "Taking a whole-person approach to addressing health, including nonmedical drivers such as food, housing, transportation, employment and safety, leads to better health and well-being for North Carolinians overall, and especially during a pandemic."
 
The Support Services Program builds on NCDHHS’ Community Health Worker Program, which employs community health workers in 55 counties to connect North Carolinians with medical and social supports such as diagnostic testing, behavioral health services and education about vaccines, as well as vaccine registration.
 
The Community Health Worker Program plans to expand to support to all 100 counties by the end of Summer 2021. A community health worker is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of the community, often bilingual, and has a close understanding of the community served. This program has served around 500,000 North Carolinians to date and is currently focused on vaccine support work for historically marginalized populations.   
 
Governor Signs Three Bills Into Law PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 12 May 2021 08:35
Governor Roy Cooper signed the following bills into law:
 
Senate Bill 113: Modify Termination of Parental Rights Appeals
House Bill 142: UNC Building Reserves/Certain Projects
Senate Bill 390: UNC Law Enforcement Recruitment
 
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