Monday, July 30, 2007

Update Licensure Law

Our licensure law, SB 1090, was heard for its second and third readings this past weekend. It is now on its way to the Governor for his signature. Thank you to all those who have helped in the journey of this bill.

Budget Update

The budget is now in its final phases of completion before being signed by the Governor. Take a look and tell us what you think! The budget can be found on the homepage.

This typically signals the beginning of the end of session. We expect session to be completed by the middle of August at the latest.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

NASW-NC participates in a press conference on Street Gang Prevention Act

NASW-NC and other advocates participated this morning in a press conference called by Rep. Alma Adams regarding the Street Gang Prevention Act. NASW-NC, like our colleagues, sees the need for a comprehensive study of the gang issue in NC. More laws that are punitive in nature do not a safer state make.

SB 1090 Update

Wow, it has been a morning! Thank you so much. Due to the efforts of our amazing board and colleagues from the Clinical Society, the Licensure Board and members we have succeeded in getting our bill reported out of Ways & Means.

NASW-NC met with Rep. Jim Harrell this morning and we resolved the issue over our bill. The concern was in regard to a potential amendment that the DHHS folks wanted to add to our bill regarding Rec. Therapy. The DHHS lobbyist and I (NASW-NC) had already worked that issue out and resolved that it would not be attached to our bill. However, the rumor had gotten around and that was what the Representative was basing his concerns on. The Rec. Therapy folks had been calling him assuming it to be true as well. After we clarified our position, we were ok. We are now on our way to the House floor for a final vote.

I (NASW-NC) have also notified our bill sponsor, Sen Purcell and the DHHS lobbyist.

This is a clear demonstration to me of the power of Social Work at its best. Networking and Coordinating with others and using our collective communication to move obstacles….

Great Job all!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

HB 1898 AIDS Testing Certain Inmates

This bill was heard today, Tuesday July 24th, in House Health. This is an important bill with implications for our state.

NASW-NC does not support mandatory testing for HIV/AIDS. While NASW-NC does support as many of those infected with HIV/AIDS as possible to get tested and treated if necessary, there is a reality that the infrastructure of treatment services in NC is woefully short.

This bill would mandate testing of all persons discharged from the Department of Corrections. The price tag, according to DHHS, would be $200,000. Those infected would be referred to Department of Public Health for counseling.

Counseling, in this context, does not imply treatment. As stated by DHHS today, there would be referrals to community based organizations to help those in need of treatment receive services.

This is troubling indeed. With NC's AIDS Drug Assistance Program being near the bottom in the Nation, where are folks to go? This social worker has direct service experience in HIV/AIDS. From experience, services are good in some areas with great organizations. In others, almost non existent.

NASW-NC participates in the coalition NC AIDS Action Network.

The bill has good intent in terms of letting citizens get tested for HIV/AIDS. However, without infrastructure to assist in the long term it is hallow indeed.

Another implication brought forward today was the liability for the state. What happens when someone enters DOC negative and leaves positive? Does the state have any liability? That question raises many ethical concerns that will surely follow the debate of the bill.

The bill still has a journey. While being voted through the committee it is now on its way to House Judiciary II and then Appropriations.

NASW-NC will continue to follow the bill's progress and report.

Update on School Violence Prevention Act & Street Gang Prevention Act

HB 274 Street Gang Prevention Act was to be heard today in House Judiciary III. The bill was pulled by the sponsors and is slated for Thursday July 26th. NASW-NC will be there for the bill hearing.

NASW-NC will also participate in a press conference tomorrow, Wednesday July 25th regarding this important bill and why we must oppose it. The intent of this bill is admirable, however, the process by which the bill proceeds to address a serious issue in our state is misguided. Look for more in depth analysis of this bill in tomorrow's blog.

HB 1366 School Violence Prevention Act AKA "Bullying Bill" was to be heard today in Senate Judiciary II. The bill was pulled by the sponsors and will be heard Thursday July 26th. NASW-NC will be there for the bill hearing. This bill would set a benchmark for the public school system on the definition of bullying. It would also list enumerated classes of those who are particularly vulnerable to bullying. They include physical/sensory/cognitive disability, mental/emotional diagnoses, and sexual orientation and gender expression (real or perceived) to name a few. Look for more information on this bill in tomorrow's blog.

Update Licensure Law

As of this writing, July 24, 2007 5:30pm, we have had no response from our requests to Rep. Jim Harrell's office regarding SB 1090 Amend Social Work Licensure Law.

As reported here, it was heard last Thursday, July 19th, in House Ways & Means. We truly appreciate efforts by Rep. Jim Harrell's office to get our bill heard in the committee he chairs.

What is troubling is that we have not yet been reported out of that committee. Our bill was one of two that day. Not only has the other bill been reported out but it has made it to the floor for a vote in the House.

Repeated attempts to communicate with the Representative's office has resulted in messages being left with his legislative assistant.

NASW-NC will continue to advocate for a swift resolution and calendaring of our bill for a floor vote.

NASW-NC requests hearing with Guilford County Superintendent

NASW-NC and the NC School Social Work Association requested a hearing with the Superintendent of Guilford County Schools, Dr. Terry Grier. As of this writing we have not had any response from his office.

The issue of potential lay offs of 40 of the 60 School Social Workers in Guilford County is extremely troubling.

It would seem that communication is also something that is troubling.

NASW-NC will be testifying at this Thursday's, July 26th, Guilford County School Board Meeting. We will continue to advocate for a swift resolution to this situation.

Friday, July 20, 2007

SB 1090 Makes it through Ways & Means

SB 1090 Amend Social Work Licensure Laws made it through the House committee on Ways & Means yesterday. We had a unanimous vote and the bill also is now on its way to the House floor for a final vote. We expect it to be heard early next week. It will then go to the Governor for his signature.

What the Bill does:

Section 1: Defines a PLCSW according to Chapter 90-B. This was a technical insertion to better define where PLCSWs fit in the licensure law.

Section 2: Adds a records retention minimum requirement for PRIVATE PRACTICE LCSWs of three years. NASW National and most other professions have the standard of practice is indefinite and the NC Social Work Certification & Licensure Board needed something in the statute regarding records. NASW-NC recommends that practitioners with questions contact the licensure board with questions.

This section also states that any SW certified or licensed by the board shall cooperate with investigations or inquiries of the board.

Section 3: Adds to the statute time frames regarding exams and hours for PLCSWs. PLCSWs will have 2 years to pass their ASWB Clincial Exam and 6 years, or three renewal cycles, to gain all their contact hours.

This provision comes from conversations with Division staff regarding the ability to establish the competency of PLCSWs beyond the degree. NASW-NC recommends to any PLCSW with questions regarding this provision to contact the board.

Section 4: Removes language from the bill that is outdated and no longer applicable. It removes numbers 1 & 3. One refers to grandfathering that occurred when the law was first enacted. Three refers to exemptions for hospital employees.

The last removal of number three refers to independent clinical staff whose sole purpose is outpatient psychotherapy. These SWs must be licensed in order to practice. This provision was vetted by the Hospital Association, Duke University Medical Center, and legislative staff.

NASW-NC recommends that any SW with questions regarding this provision contact the board.

Section 5: Adds a provision that states all those licensed and certified by the board shall display their license or certification in a conspicuous place in their primary place of employment.

You can read more about the bill here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NC Corporal Punishment Bill gets National Media

NASW-NC was a member of the Coalition that worked with Rep. Alexander on the Banning of Corporal Punishment in the Public Schools (HB 873 SB 874). Our School Social Work Practice Unit Chair & 2007 Advocate of the Year, Dr. Gary Shaffer, professor at the UNC School of Social Work has recently had an article published in the NASW School Social Work Practice Section Newsletter. Congratulations to Dr. Shaffer!

Even though our up hill efforts were, in the end, in vain, with members like Dr. Shaffer & legislative leadership like Rep. Alexander on our team we will certainly come back and win in the future!

NASW-NC to testify before the County Commissioners in Guilford County

NASW-NC along with the NC School Social Work Association will be testifying on behalf of Guilford County School Social Workers tomorrow night.

In the county budget negotiations, it was decided, primarily by the superintendent, Dr. Grier, that 40 positions would be cut. The school system asked the county for just over $11 million in funding and received some $8 million. The difference would be made up in slashing prevention programs and support positions in school social work.

It is the position of NASW-NC and the NC School Social Work Association that this is poor public policy. This cut will have dramatic effects on the infrastructure of an already over burdened county. Teachers and other personnel will have to make up for the loss of these professionals.

Perhaps, the county commissioners will see differently during the hearing tomorrow. Calls and requests to meet with the Superintendent have gone unanswered.

Session in final days

NASW-NC has learned that yesterday the Speaker of the House announced that committee meetings will be coming to an end on July 28, 2007. This means the session is at an end. Expect the final days of the sesison to be chaotic and unpredictable. Stay tuned!

Session in final days

It was announced by Speaker Hackney in the House that committee meetings will conclude by July 28, 2007. We are in the final days of the session for this year. Stay tuned for updates...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Nuts & Bolts of the Parity Bill

For those who have not seen the bill, here are some nuts & bolts on what the parity bill is all about.

AT LAST AFTER 15 YEARS FINAL HOUSE VOTE IS 114-2 As Rep. Martha Alexander said when addressing the House this afternoon, “This is another historic day in North Carolina – just as it was on May 23, 2007 when this body passed the first mental health parity bill in North Carolina’s history. We are on the verge of ending discrimination in insurance coverage for North Carolina’s citizens with mental illness.” Shortly after those remarks, and several supportive remarks from both sides of the aisle, the House voted 114-2 to concur in the Senate Committee Substitute for House Bill 973. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.

WHAT THE FINAL BILL DOES 1. HB 973 covers all group plans. 2. HB 973 covers 9 diagnoses at full parity – bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, paranoid and other psychotic disorder, schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, anorexia nervosa and bulimia. 3. HB 973 covers all other mental illness diagnoses at financial parity – meaning deductibles, coinsurance factors, co-payments, maximum out-of-pocket as well as annual and lifetime limits must be the same as for physical illnesses. 4. Mental illness diagnoses not included in the 9 listed above may have different durational limits, but the minimum benefit required must provide for: Thirty (30) combined inpatient and outpatient days per year and Thirty (30) office visits per year 5. It law becomes effective July 1, 2008.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? The bill goes to the Governor for signature. There is no indication that the Governor would not sign the bill. His staff have told us they support the mental health parity effort.


Prepared by Sally Cameron NC Psychological Association July 12, 2007

Updates from our friends at the NC ACLU

HB 274/ SB 1358 Street Gang Prevention Act

The Senate version of this bill was voted out of Judiciary II last week after the committee made a number of changes which substantially improved the bill. The bill still threatens important civil liberties interests including due process and the rights to expression and free association. This week SB 1358 was heard in Appropriations where the Fiscal staff estimated the minimum start-up costs for the bill to be roughly $25 million and costs each year following that would start at approximately $5 million and increase in each following year. The bill was not voted on and committee members indicated that they were unclear where the money would come from since it is not in the current version of the budget, which the House and Senate continue to negotiate. The House JIII subcommittee had another meeting this week to hear the public’s final thoughts on HB 274. They have promised a number of changes and we expect the bill to be voted out to the full Judiciary III committee in the next week or so. The promised changes do not address a number of our concerns. Please call the members of House JIII and ask them to vote against this bill. The members of JIII are:

(all numbers are 919 area code and all emails are

Rep. Sutton 919-715-0875

Daughtry leod 733-5605

Faison billf 715-3019

Warren rayw 715-8361

Almond davida 733-5908

Cotham triciac 715-0706

Fisher susanf 715-2013

Haire philliph 715-3005

Jeffus maggiej 733-5191

Lewis davidl 715-3015

Michaux mickeym 715-2528

Tillis thomt 733-5828

Underhill aliceu 733-5853

Walend trudiw 715-4466

Wiley lauraw 733-5877

To find out who represents you, got to

HB 1020 Rights of Ex-Offenders

Our felon re-enfranchisement bill is scheduled to be heard on Monday, July 16th at 5 pm in the Senate Select Committee on Government and Election Reform. This bill would include a pamphlet explaining an ex-felons voting rights and a voter registration form in the release packet of each ex-felon when s/he is released from prison. This bill will help educate thousands of North Carolinians on their already existing right to vote. We hope to get this bill through the Senate and send it to the Governor’s desk by the end of next week. To help, contact your Senator and encourage him or her to support this bill because studies show that encouraging civic participation by ex-offenders aids in the rehabilitative process.

To find out who your Senator is, go to

Good Bills Going to the Governor’s Desk:

HB 91 Registration and Voting at One-Stop Sites: This bill allows voters to register and vote at the same time during the early voting period up to three days before the general election day. Despite attempts by opponents to insert an English-only provision and photo ID requirements, the bill went to the Governor’s desk without these provisions. It was signed into law by the Governor on July 12th.

SB 753 Disability History and Awareness Month: This bill requires that schools implement a program by which children are taught about disability and will help to combat the prejudice and stigma often associated with being disabled. This bill was voted out of the Senate earlier in the week and the House passed it on July 12th so now all it needs is the Governor’s signature.

SB 1466 Migrant Housing Health/Safety: This bill sets up minimum health and safety standard that migrant worker housing must meet. The bill was passed by the Senate earlier this week and the House on July 12th. Minor changes have been made in the House, with which the Senate must concur. Once that happens, this bill, which help protect the rights of all workers, but especially immigrant workers in North Carolina, will head to the Governor’s desk.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

MH Parity Vote Today in Concurrence

The concurrence, or agreement of a passed House and passed Senate bill, happens today. This will then, if passed, send the bill to the Gov. Easley for his signature.