Volume IV, Issue 9
July 11, 2012
NEWS FROM RALEIGH…
I always welcome your comments, project updates, suggestions, and visits. My office door and electronic door is always open to you! As always, thank you for your support!
REP. BRYANT REPRESENTING DISTRICT 7 – NASH AND HALIFAX COUNTY UNTIL JAN. 2013; DISTRICT 7 – NASH AND FRANKLIN COUNTIES
FOR 2013-14 SESSION
Representative Bryant will be representing Halifax county until Jan. 2013, the end of this term, while at the same time, making new relationships in Franklin/Nash counties.
Raise the Age NC at the General Assembly
Representative Angela Bryant with supporters of Raise the Age NC, who came to the General Assembly to lobby on May 15th. Pictured with: Commissioner Linda Virgil of Sharpsburg (second from left), local activist Jim Grant (far right) and other Nash county supporters.
Raise the Age is a growing bipartisan movement to protect our communities, our kids and our wallets. Currently, North Carolina is one of only two states in the nation that prosecute all 16- and 17-year-olds charged with a crime in the adult criminal justice system, regardless of the severity of their alleged crimes. The Raise the Age coalition includes legislators, noteworthy judges and law enforcement officials, children’s advocates, church leaders, business leaders, doctors, educators and concerned North Carolinians across the state who’ve worked tirelessly to pass legislation that will Raise the Age of juvenile jurisdiction, save taxpayers millions of dollars and give our kids a better shot at leading productive lives.
Following unanimous support of a House Judiciary Committee, a bipartisan bill to Raise the Age of juvenile jurisdiction (S434) and even the playing field for North Carolina’s youth will move to a research committee to review the steps necessary to fully implement the policy change. This committee will formally take up juvenile justice reform in the coming weeks.
(SOURCE: Raise the Age NC)
AROUND THE DISTRICT & MORE
· Freedom School Summer Camp, Peacemakers Family Community Center, 1725 Davis Street, Rocky Mount, Mon. June 18 –Friday, July 27 from 8am – 3pm. Transportation is available on an as needed basis. For more information contact Cheri L. Pullen at 252-314-5616. Application deadline is May 15, 2012. Also visit the website at: http://www.childrensdefense.org/programs-campaigns/freedom-schools/
· Summer Music Camps, The Music School of Roanoke Rapids, 1100 Roanoke Avenue. Dates: June 18-22; June 25-29; July 9-13; July 16-20; July 23-27. For more information call (252)678-4954 or visit www.themusicschoolofroanokerapids.com.
· The Annual Festival, Franklinton Center Day at Bricks (Just North of Rocky Mount), Franklinton Center, 281 Bricks Lane, Whitakers, NC 27891. August 4, 2012, 9:00am-5:00pm.
· Nash & Surrounding Counties Prison Re-Entry Roundtable, All are welcome to the city-wide roundtable discussion. 820 Nashville Road, Rocky Mount, NC 27803. August 6, 2012, 5:30pm- 8:00pm. For more information, contact Lois Watkins at (252)442-2925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
· North Carolina Health Professions Diversity Conference, Grandover Hotel and Conference Center, One Thousand Club Road, Greensboro, North Carolina 27407. August 29-30, 2012. The theme of this year’s conference is “Showcasing Success – Creating Equity in Opportunity.” This two-day conference will focus on showcasing models and strategies that have proven successful in recruiting and retaining students in health professional programs as well as maintaining a diverse workforce setting. It will also focus on creating networks, partnerships and collaborations with others around the state of North Carolina that share the same interests in creating equity in opportunity in the health workforce. For more information, contact Gabriela Staley at (704)512-6596 or visit http://www.charlotteahec.org/continuing_education/registration/workshop.cfm?EventID=36402.
· Auditioning and Production dates for Play, the Nash Arts and The Imperial Center are partnering to mount a full production of a play, You Wouldn’t Expect. This play presents the stories of four of the almost 8,000 victims of the North Carolina sterilization program. Performance dates will be September 28, 29, October 5, 6, 7–with the final matinee presentation at the historic Booker T Theater in downtown Rocky Mount. Audition dates are August 2nd, 3rd with call backs on the 4th at Nash Arts (http://www.nasharts.org/) in Nashville beginning at 7:00 p.m. For more information contact Marilynn Barner Anselmi at (252)446-2585 or email to email@example.com.
· Healthy Food Financing Forum North Carolina Grown: Moving Healthy Food from the Farm to the Kitchen, hosted by the Support Center and Strategic Partners, Joseph S. Koury Convention Center, 3121 High Point Road at I-40, Greensboro, NC 27407. Tuesday, October 9, 9:00am -3:30pm.
· Voices from The Valley: Patient-Provider Communication Along the Breast Cancer Continuum in Northeastern North Carolina, The Centre at Halifax Community College, 100 College Drive, Weldon, NC 27890. Saturday, November 3, 8:00am-3:00pm. For more information, visit http://www.gbdf.org/ccwelcome.html or call Angela Carter at (252)535-8623.
CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER…
Roanoke Rapids and Rocky Mount two out of 219 Community Health Centers to Receive Grants
On Wednesday, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced awards of new federal grants made possible by the health care law to expand community health centers. The grants which were awarded to 219 health centers will help expand access to care for more than 1.25 million additional patients and create approximately 5,640 jobs. Since the beginning of 2009, health centers have added more than 25,300 new full-time positions. The awards announced will infuse critical dollars into health centers and their surrounding communities, enhancing health centers’ ability to serve more patients and creating thousands of jobs across the country.
DID YOU KNOW?
Young Women Can Enter $3,000 Scholarship Essay Contest
The National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) and the National Rifle Association (NRA) are co-sponsoring the 15th Annual Bill of Rights Essay Scholarship Contest for college-bound female high school juniors and seniors. This year’s topic discusses the impact public policies have on women and historically underrepresented populations as they are decided at the state versus federal level. The contest’s seven winners will each receive a $3,000 college scholarship and an all-expenses-paid trip to NFWL’s Annual Conference November 15-19, 2012 at The Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta, Georgia, where they will network with, be mentored by, and speak to hundreds of women lawmakers from across the United States.
To learn more about this scholarship opportunity, please visit: http://www.womenlegislators.org/events/scholarship-program.php or feel free to contact (202)293-3040 ext. 1005, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Entries must be received or postmarked no later than July 31st, 2012, after which an NFWL selection committee will judge each essay and determine the seven winners. The judges will primarily weigh the factors of research, understanding of the Bill of Rights, original insight, and personal connection.
I-95 Economic Assessment Advisory Council Contact Information
HB 572. ACCOUNTABILITY FOR PUBLICLY FUNDED NONPROFITS. Filed 3/30/11. TO PROVIDE GREATER ACCOUNTABILITY FOR NONPROFIT ENTITIES THAT RECEIVE PUBLIC FUNDING.
(Status: Ratified 7/02/2012)
HB 1173. Absconding Prob. Violators Forfeit Benefits. Filed 5/29/12. TO PROVIDE THAT A PROBATION VIOLATOR WHO ABSCONDS OR OTHERWISE WILLFULLY AVOIDS ARREST AFTER THE ISSUANCE OF A WARRANT SHALL FORFEIT ANY PUBLIC ASSISTANCE BENEFITS UNTIL SURRENDERING TO THE COURT.
· Such benefits include: unemployment benefits, Medicaid or other medical assistance benefits, Work First Family Assistance, food and nutrition benefits, and any other financial assistance of any kind being paid to the probationer from State or federal funds.
· This will not affect the eligibility for any public benefits that are being received by or for the benefit of a family member of a probation violator.
(Status: Ratified 7/02/2012)
Bills Intended to Make Voting Harder Are Dead – At Least Until the next General Assembly begins meeting in 2013
The legislature failed to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of the bill to require a government photo ID before voting! And several other voter suppression measures did not pass – including bills to cut a week off Early Voting, ban Sunday voting, repeal Same-Day Registration, end straight-ticket voting, add new restriction for groups doing voter registration, and eliminate pre-registration for teenagers. These bills failed because of your countless calls and emails, your showing up for marches and rallies, your personal visits with legislators, and the many other actions taken by Advocates like you.
Unfortunately, there was no success in freeing up the $4 million in federal funds from the Help American Vote Act. After significant steps forward, top leaders of the General Assembly reversed course, dug in their heels and refused to release the funds for the upcoming election.
It does make a difference who gets elected to public office!
(SOURCE: Democracy NC)
Criminal Justice Legislative Update
The legislature adjourned last week after another session of budget cutting and veto overrides on important legislation such as the Racial Justice Act and the budget.
While we are all enduring a struggling economy, the 2012-2013 budget didn’t have to be this bad. If the legislature had held off on the business tax which gives a break to every company making over $100,000, or extended the 3/4 cent sales tax, more funds would be available to sustain critical public investments.
Amidst the overwhelming news of damaging cuts, veto overrides, the consolidations and reorganizations that have marked this General Assembly, there were a few positive developments. Pre-Trial Services supporters managed to keep a bill from enactment that was designed to severely limit pretrial options. A bill allowing expunction for non-violent felonies was passed and – after a positive US Supreme Court ruling – options for parole were increased for juveniles facing life sentences. Although the bill to Raise the Juvenile Age was not successful, it was – at long last – favorably reported out of a House committee. We will report further on these substantive issues in a future Update; this issue will focus on the 2012-2013 budget.
Justice and Public Safety Budget
The final budget providing funds to Justice and Public Safety agencies and community based corrections programs has suffered major cuts.
The final Justice and Public Safety budget is $42.9 mil LESS than the Gov’s budget and $20.7 million LESS than the proposed House budget. These budget cuts come on top of 4 solid years of budget cuts. Agencies and communities are struggling to make do with less every single year.
Corrections, courts and public safety agencies continue to limp along. Community programs that work at the local level to keep communities safe are no longer limping; they now have two broken legs after 4 years of budget cuts, reductions and eliminations.
Management Flexibility Reserve: The final budget relied on heavily on Management Flexibility Reserve – funds that come from lapsed salaries – to make over $30 million in cuts without specifying where the cuts would come from.
Some cuts from Man Flex reserve make sense because dollars in lapsed salaries inevitably come open in every agency. The problem with this approach is that it gives agencies more authority to make cuts in areas not reviewed and approved by the legislature. If there are not sufficient savings from lapsed salaries, the management flexibility reserve can become a path for agencies to make further cuts in unintended places.
Salaries: The final budget includes a 1.2% pay raise for state employees. That is a pittance in any year, but certainly so after 4 years without a pay raise.
Department of Public Safety
The newly formed Department is reeling from the merger of Corrections, Juvenile Justice and Crime Control and Public Safety. The merger has brought little in the way of savings and much in the way of organizational chaos. These three agencies are now wrestling with how to best provide services as one mega- department.
Justice Reinvestment: There are numerous problems with Justice Reinvestment getting off the ground. Virtually everything is taking longer than initially expected and funds have not been reinvested as anticipated. The Justice Reinvestment Act has added post-release supervision to an additional 14,000 people with the stated goal of providing both supervision and additional treatment opportunities. Unfortunately, the 2012-2013 budget doesn’t provide reinvested funds for either goal.
We have long supported a reinvestment of funds in the Justice system. At this point, though, a REAL reinvestment is needed to reduce recidivism. That investment has not been made. Financial savings cannot be realized without reductions in recidivism. We’d like to see the reality on the ground match the rhetoric in the air.
TECS/ CJPP: The final budget cuts TECS (Treatment for Effective Community Supervision) by $5 million and replaces it with $5 million from the Misdemeanor Confinement fund. While the funds are available in the Misdemeanor Confinement fund, it is unfortunate to begin TECS- a lynchpin in Justice Reinvestment – with the Department of Public Safety raising questions about the stability of the funding.
The TECS program has not issued contracts yet and is not expected to begin taking clients in many areas until October. The administration has reduced funds allocated for substance abuse services and has applied them to another evidence-based program – Cognitive Behavioral Interventions (CBI). While CBI is a good program, serious concerns remain about the reductions in available substance abuse treatment dollars across the budget.
The funds (approximately $9 million) that were used in the Criminal Justice Partnership Program for approximately 7,000 individuals will now be spread across a greater number of probationers. In addition, these services are said to be available to some of the 14,000 individuals coming out on post-release supervision. These funds were not sufficient to start with and definitely won’t be enough to help reduce recidivism for a greatly increased population.
Post-Release Supervision: To complicate matters further, no funds have been included for post-release supervision officers and only a portion of what’s needed for the parole commission ($169,000) has been funded. The Governor had requested $12.2 million for these purposes. The final budget contemplates a reassignment of vacant positions although some of the dollars are likely needed for other unanticipated expenses, not to mention the need to fill the actual vacant positions for their original purposes.
Prisons Closed/ Dollars Not Reinvested:In 2011, the legislature could have immediately redirected dollars saved from the closing of 4 prisons into Justice Reinvestment needs. That wasn’t done. The Department of Public Safety now requires NEW dollars – rather than reinvested dollars – to fund officers for post-release supervision. Those dollars are not in the budget.
90 Day Revocations: The 90 day revocations and the “quick dips” – have still not started.
Misdemeanant Confinement Fund: The misdemeanant confinement fund is distributing misdemeanant offenders into open jail beds across the state, but it does nothing to address any underlying treatment issues or needs with this group. It is an incarceration only program and is managed by the Sherriff’s Association. In addition, a lawsuit is underway which could undermine approximately $11 million in fees that comprise a major chunk of the funding for this program.
Department of Public Safety – Juvenile Justice
There is a $1.6 management flexibility reserve Juvenile Justice that could have an impact on other items as the fiscal year progresses.
Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils (JCPCs): These have been maintained without a cut.
Bridge Program: This Western NC program that trains court-involved youth to fight fires has been eliminated from the Justice and Public Safety budget. Fortunately, it has been preserved by a transfer to the Department of Agriculture where staffers appear to value this highly regarded program.
Youth Development Centers: The final budget eliminates $1.7 million in funding for the newly constructed Edgecombe Youth Development Center. We would prefer to see a cut taken from the antiquated Dobbs facility. This cut also represents a movement away from the treatment model under which Juvenile Justice has been operating.
There are no changes in the final budget for Indigent Defense Services. Unfortunately, IDS is wrestling with budget problems with serious budget problems. IDS runs out of money at approximately the end of the 3rd quarter and can’t pay anyone until funds are appropriated again in June. This inadequate payment system comes on top of cuts in hourly rates that have many attorneys talking about throwing in the towel all together when it comes to representing indigent defendants.
The Administrative Office of the Courts was cut by $5 million in management flexibility reserve. That cut could possibly be imposed on other unspecified items as the year progresses.
Clerks and the Conference of District Attorneys: these conferences were not cut by 10% in the final budget as they had been in the House.
Drug Treatment Court Treatment Dollars: We salute the areas of the state that have found ways to continue their Drug Treatment Courts in spite of the continuing attacks on funding. After eliminating Drug Treatment Court case management staff in 2011, the final budget now completely eliminates $2,258 million in substance abuse treatment dollars for the remaining drug courts.
Legal Services: The final budget includes $671,250 in pass through funds to the NC state bar for Access to Civil Justice.
Family Courts: We are pleased to see that Family Courts are included in the final budget.
Trial Court Administrators: We are pleased to see that these important court management positions are included in the final budget after a mention of possible cuts.
New Crime Lab: $ 3 million has been allocated for a new crime lab in Edneyville.
No New Positions for DNA: The SBI is receiving a large volume of requests for testifying about DNA results. The conference budget does NOT include 12 positions in the triad region lab to handle DNA submissions.
Mortgage Settlement Funds: The Governor’s budget did much more with the Mortgage settlement funds than is included in the final budget. Funds in the Governor’s budget would have been used to increase attention to financial fraud by allocating nearly $10 million to expand prosecution of lending and financial crimes and to expand financial investigative ability.
SBI Training: No increases have been included for SBI training and certification even though it was recently reported that a significant number of analysts didn’t pass their certification test. The SBI continues to require careful attention after the finding of false blood spatter evidence presented by Mr. Deaver. The documented cases of improper testimony and analysis continue to reduce public confidence in the court system.
MH/DD/SA and Medicaid
Medicaid: The final budget anticipates over $59 million in savings for the care of Medicaid recipients along with another $6.6 million in pharmacy “improvements.” These savings are expected to come from improving managed care through Community Care NC. If these savings are not realized, there will be another gap in services.
Mental Health: Approximately $20 million was cut to the funds allocated to communities for Mental Health/ Substance Abuse/ Developmental Disabilities services at the community level. $345 million is the total amount now available and these funds support services provided to families, children, veterans and our most vulnerable citizens. These cuts compound the treatment cuts made in Drug Treatment Courts and in the Treatment for Effective Community Services program.
Local Management Entities (LME): The LME administrative budgets for Mental Health/ Substance Abuse and Developmental Disabilities have also been reduced by $8.4 million.
Managed Care Organizations: We had hoped the transition to Managed Care Organizations might have been slowed down, but that didn’t happen. The negative impact is widespread and is particularly damaging to individuals with developmental disabilities who will lose their case managers. This is a shameful loss to anyone who cares about insuring the well-being of citizens with disabilities.
(SOURCE: Carolina Justice Policy Center)
Some Legislative Links for 2012 Short Session
Session Laws for 2011 and 2012:
scroll to bottom for most recent. This updates as the legislature processes bills from the Governor.
Bills on the Governor’s desk:
Statutes and Session Laws affected by 2012 legislation including bills on the Governor’s desk:
Thank You From Roanoke Rapids….
· The City of Roanoke Rapids Parks and Recreation Department sent a thank you to Representative Bryant for her support of the arts in Halifax County during this Year’s session of the General Assembly. The portion of the funds awarded was used to provide musical entertainment and marketing materials for the Summer Concert Series “Fridays in the Park.”
· The Roanoke Avenue Business Alliance (RABA) in Roanoke Rapids sent a thank you to Representative Bryant for her support of the North Carolina Arts Council and Halifax County Arts Council Grassroots Art Program. This program helps tackle the problem with boarded windows by calling for those windows to be covered with beautiful, historically-themed window murals.
HEAR AND SEE LEGISLATURE LIVE DAILY
You don’t have to miss the Legislative Session. WRAL will live stream legislative sessions daily on their website. www. wral.com. Also, please remember that you can listen to some committee meetings and press conferences on the General Assembly’s website at www.ncleg.net. Once on the site, select “Audio,” and then make your selection – House Chamber, Senate Chamber, Appropriations Committee Room or Press Conference Room. You can also view the bills I sponsor and co-sponsor from this website address.
Contact: Representative Angela R. Bryant, House of Representatives, NC House District 7
North Carolina General Assembly • 542 Legislative Office Building • 300 N. Salisbury Street, Raleigh, NC 27603 919-733-5878-Phone • 919-754-3289-FAX • Angela.Bryant@ncleg.net
or Karon Hardy, Legislative Assistant at email@example.com