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Senate | June 26, 2013 | Committee Room | Health

Full MP3 Audio File

Committee will come to order. Thank you. We'll begin this committee this morning by introducing our pages. Tharon Scrubs, hiding behind the post over there. Adam ??, Mackenzie Launder, hi, Reeves Houston, Tammy Holland, Evan Harris, and Mark Makin II. We have all our pages here today, Sergeant at Arms Charles Harper, Justin Owens, Anderson Meadows, Donna Blake, and Steve McKay. Thank you, all. Committee for today we have one bill in front of us, it'll be House Bill 392, moving forward we do have a PCS for this bill. Senator Allran moves for consideration of the PCS. All those in favor say aye, opposed. Thank you. The PCS is before us, representatives, whatever order you'd like to go with. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate the opportunity to come before you and present this bill. I wanted to tell you what this bill is trying to do. First of all, it has two purposes, the part I'm going to discuss then, my colleague is going to discuss another part. Right now, this bill is an attempt to prevent fugitives, felons, and probation, parole violators from receiving financial assistance according to federal law. This bill is to ensure that financial aid goes first to law abiding people. It also makes a public policy statement that says that all agencies should work together with law enforcement to keep us safe. I want to tell you the background about this and how this bill came about. Back in 2011, in Senator Tucker's county and mine, we had a situation where a case workers job was reported jeopardized and put on an action plan by the state, after the caseworker notified a deputy in the agency that a person seeking public assistance had an outstanding arrest warrant. The deputy promptly arrested the convicted felon. A few weeks earlier a similar situation had occurred, and also resulted in the person being arrested for an outstanding arrest warrant. The state JFS contacted our county officials and said, if an outstanding arrest warrant is noted, a local caseworker cannot act on that information. The state JFS went on to say, that the county agency should not have accessed that information and shared it with law enforcement and that local JFS is not duty bound to report information to law enforcement. You can imagine that the caseworkers job was in jeopardy for doing the right thing. Out of that, this person who came in to our county to receive aid was an out of state felon, who had came to North Carolina and had been arrested again. His original felony conviction was for pistol whipping a robbery victim, I believe, was arrested in North Carolina on drug charges and had an outstanding arrest warrant for a parole and probation violator. This person came to our county seeking aid. What this bill does is require that JFS check the criminal statutes, criminal database to make sure that the people who applied do not have an outstanding arrest warrant or are on probation or parole violators. The second thing that this does is create a database exchange, that when law enforcement asks information, and the asker has to be law enforcement, they can create a database exchange where law enforcement will query and ask JFS, if you have these people who have these outstanding arrest warrants in the system, JFS would be able to create this database exchange to assist law enforcement in keeping the public safe. With that, that's the first part of this bill. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Good morning, members of the committee. I actually have nothing to do with the preparation of this bill or the amendment I'm getting ready to tell you. Section five and section six are

A part of Senator Davis's bill that you saw before Senator Davis wanted to have a drug test for everyone before they received benefits the problem is as we reviewed that in our judiciary committee that's unconstitutional we needed to have some kind of reasonable suspicion in order to ask people to submit to a drug test so we're connecting it along with this criminal if there's a criminal record for drugs within three years if there's a reasonable suspicion that they are doing them now that can also be an arrest warrant that's outstanding or the other factors that the Department of Social Services takes into account already so it somewhat narrows Senator Davis's bill but tries to help make it constitutional and by putting it along with this it helps you to understand that the reasonable suspicion can be having looked at all this past history. Section six is simply a severability clause that says if one of these sections is determined to be unconditional then the other one can still stand. So that's the primary purpose of the amendment is to put it together in a more logical fashion[SPEAKER CHANGES]and with that Senator Tucker and I will greatly appreciate your support on[SPEAKER CHANGES]Senator Bingham[SPEAKER CHANGES]Thank you Mr. Chairman appreciate the work done on this glad to know this is constitutional move to favor[SPEAKER CHANGES]Thank you we will hold that motion Senator Curtis, Senator Curtis okay Senator McKissick[SPEAKER CHANGES]just a couple of questions and perhaps staff can help me with this what did Susan work on this?[SPEAKER CHANGES]??[SPEAKER CHANGES]Oh okay let me ask you this the way that this drafted right now it looks as if a person has a misdemeanor a warrant for their arrest that could happen if somebody got a seatbelt violation and didn't go to court issue an order for their arrest or somebody even could go to court on a traffic-type citation and failed to pay the fine and court cost on time an arrest warrant could go out even if they're put on probation some minor, insignificant matter you know you could be shoplifting for that matter and they failed to pay something in that could violate a term of condition of probation so I'm wondering I can understand why you want this in felony cases I think in felonies it's a very clear cogent argument but dropping this thing all the way down to misdemeanors if somebody who could help me with how we could do this in a way where we're all these people that might of gotten involved in things that were relatively innocent but they happen everyday don't get caught in the net[SPEAKER CHANGES]Certainly thank you Senator McKissick this bill states in what terms current federal law already provides for that is has to be a fleeing felon so it has to be a felony charge and then the arrest warrant is for probation or parole violation a part of it and so working with this I worked with Ms Paul and so it's limited to those people which are currently in federal law that are prohibited from getting those benefits and so we're are mirroring that[SPEAKER CHANGES]follow-up maybe Ms. Paul can help me with that[SPEAKER CHANGES]follow-up[SPEAKER CHANGES]what I see here specifically spell out misdemeanors and so it will seem they may get caught in the net[SPEAKER CHANGES]Senator McKissick and Chair if I may ?? on that question Senator McKissick under federal law which is under 42USC it specifies specifically that the ?? statute specifies certain conditions under which the state has discretion to take certain action but also circumstances in which the state does not have discretion to take certain actions and a state is barred under federal law for using federal ?? funds to provide assistance any individual who is either a fleeing felon so fleeing to avoid prosecution, custody, or confinement after conviction for a felony or and the next provision under federal law under 42USC indicates violating a condition of probation or parole imposed under federal or state law it does not limited it to felonies under that provision of federal law[SPEAKER CHANGES]follow-up ??[SPEAKER CHANGES]So what you are saying federal law already mandates that you capture these misdemeanors that I'm describing

In that case, it sounds like the directive was issued at the county level was inconsistent with federal law that existed at the time. Would that be a correct assumption? Because I thought we were fixing that was occurring at a county level that was not a matter of law. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I can speak to the situation in our situation. Current practices is simply asked the people, applicants, are you a convicted felon or parole/probation violator? That's a check-off box. And that's the extent of the review. This astute... we hire very capable and qualified and wonderful people in our county in DSS. This person was very astute and knew this individual and the situation and alerted the authorities. The question became this transfer of information. The way we understand the rules of the federal construction is the person asking has to be law enforcement, has to be the actor, the initiator of the action. And that's why the database transferred is what is doing...what is being done in seven other states to meet with the federal rules. And it's, in my opinion, a crazy situation, but I'm sure there's some reason for it. But it's ...anyway the database...the way the database is set up in this law allows the federal provisions to be held and it's modeled after about seven other states. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Excellent. Quick follow-up, Mr. Chair, if I could. From the staff. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Final follow-up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Are we going, Ms. Poll, beyond federal law in what we are doing. I understand that we're sharing information. I think that's a good idea. It shouldn't be limited just law enforcement being able to ask those questions. We've got somebody in social service office, they ought to be able to ask it and not be penalized. But are we going beyond federal law in what we are requiring. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Senator McKissick, with regard to release of information to law enforcement agencies, this bill before you gives DSS, I keep trying to say DHHS, gives DSS the right and the responsibility to check to make sure that the information that the individual is providing the agency with respect to the check off box is correct and can be verified. With regard to federal law, I essentially read the provisions are of federal law that apply to these types of situations and on whom the criminal record checks have to be made. And the ?? statute itself, under federal law, specifies certain conditions under which the state has to exchange information with law enforcement agencies, but a state has the right and the option to exchange information in additional cases as long as there are protections against the disclosure of confidential information that is provided in the ?? statute and that the disclosure of confidential information is limited as the federal statute requires. So all that the federal law says is that a state has to... the state's ?? plan is to outline how the state would...and the statute provides specifically would take such reasonable steps as the state deems necessary to restrict the use and disclosure of information of that individuals and families receiving assistance of the program attributable to funds provided by the federal government. So as long as the state establishes safeguards against the use and disclosure of information, then federal law would permit it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. I appreciate it. And the crimes that are committed are no greater than what federal law requires us to do. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Stein. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thanks, Mr. Chair. A couple questions. In the sharing of arrest warrant status and probation and parole violator information, that's just sharing of information and there's no cost to the applicant. Is that correct? On the drug-screening and testing where there's a cost, that cost is reimbursed if you don't.... And does the person have to come up with ... Excuse me, Mr. Chair. Follow-up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow-up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Does the person have to come up with the cost before they even get the benefit? Or is it billed to them after...? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Using the cheapest test available, it's ten dollars. And we do say, if the applicant...[AUDIO ENDS]


Who do not need it and are violating it because they're not law abiding. And that's a way without increasing our funding and all these tight budgets to do that. And so that's. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Kinnaird. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, I just want to thank Senator Stevens. This section three on page five is right on. And that takes care of the problem, thank you so much. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? I wanted to ask one question before we go through other co-sponsors, if I could. Are you aware that this has any impact on the kind of programs who are already doing drug testing out front for individuals who are applying for jobs that require job testing up front? There's a lot in the work force first program right now that if you're applying for a truck driver job, for example, or others that they have you do the drug test before they waste their time on others before they send you out to a job that's going to require it to begin with. Does this still allow them to continue to do that within the program? [SPEAKER CHANGES]Yes, this should have no effect on that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The thing is, the people who are going to be drug tested under this, there's already going to be a reasonable suspicion that they're doing drugs. There's already going to be a record or there's going to be some things that these people who want to screen them for a job are going to be aware of, too. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Bingham. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman, I was just going to inquire how you all can reduce this drug test cost. I'm, for my information and I appreciate the work you did on that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] What we did was a full panel drug test, whether you draw blood or urine can be a much more rigorous screen. What this is is just the cheap squab and it won't do as in depth a test but will give us a nice preliminary evaluation as to recent drug use. Sort of an ongoing type problem. It's not as in depth or detailed as some of the screens we were looking at before. So, that's the reality. [SPEAKER CHANGES]OK, Mr. Chairman it's ?? And so cheek squab or whatever you indicated is only $10. I think I heard that said. [SPEAKER CHANGES]That's correct. We were talking with social services and we were talking about various drug tests that they can do and the rates that they are. But yes there's a buckle squab that will test for several drugs. I believe it includes alcohol as well, and it's only $10. [SPEAKER CHANGES]And on the background check. Senator Bingham on the background check in terms of that cost, what this bill does is provide for a state-wide access to the law enforcement database by that. So, we worked through that on the House side. And I got a letter here by Glenn Osbourne, who's the director of Wilson County, as well as Nancy Coston, who's the director of Orange County, that says they are in agreement with this and we were able to work to get that database access at no cost, because we're using state resources. And it says, 'You've addressed our concerns. We thank you for that. We have no further concerns.' I'm in a meeting with DSS directors across the state and we're in agreement on my feedback to you as well. And then Nancy Coston is director of Orange County says, asks that I convey this agreement as well. So. [SPEAKER CHANGES]Any other questions? ?? Senator Bingham has moved for a favorable report to the bill, unfavorable to the PCS, unfavorable to the original bill. All those in favor please signify by saying aye. Opposed. Thank you members of the committee. We stand adjourned.