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  • Writer's pictureDavid Laurence

Pandemic Relief Legislation Unanimously Approved by N.C. General Assembly

The North Carolina General Assembly unanimously passed two Covid-19 response packages on Saturday, approving over $1.5 billion of funding relief for critical needs and extensive policy measures to help local communities address the crisis as the state safely reopens its economy. If you have concerns about this legislation please read the final paragraphs of this article where many issues are being addressed.

This compromise spending plan is a significant investment laying the groundwork for moving the state forward and responding to the economic and human impacts of this pandemic. We are committed to ensuring that North Carolina is prepared when the state reopens for business, and in the meantime ensuring that the virus outbreak is managed properly. This commitment goes above and beyond previous requests and includes funding for testing, tracing, immediate recovery needs, and increasing access to broadband and electronic devices to access remote learning opportunities.

The bill addresses both immediate needs, like purchasing personal protective equipment and expanding digital infrastructure needs, and long-term research and development to fight the virus. It supports testing for uninsured patients, rural and under-served communities, and behavioral health services.

House Bill 1043 Pandemic Response Act appropriates over $1.5 billion in relief funding for North Carolina’s medical providers, education communities, broadband connectivity. See below for a summary of select H.B. 1043 appropriations.

Senate Bill 704 Covid-19 Recovery Act provides tax relief, streamlines unemployment access, and makes policy reforms in education, healthcare, and government operations to assist North Carolinians through the pandemic and economic shutdown.

Read a full legislative summary of S.B. 704 policy reforms.—Select appropriations from the relief package include:

Broadband Connectivity: $9 million Support for Education Communities: School Nutrition – $75 million Summer Learning Programs – $70 million K-12 Connectivity – $11 million K-12 Devices for Students – $30 million Student Health – $10 million Community Colleges – $25 million UNC Flexibility Funding – $44.4 million Assistance for Private Colleges – $20 million Department of Health and Human Services Testing, Tracing and Trends – $25 million Enhanced Public Health Capacity – $20 million Enhanced Behavioral Health – $20 million Rural and Underserved Communities – $50 million Food, Safety, Shelter, Foster and Child Care: $27.5 million Financial Support for Assisted Living Facilities: $25 million N.C. Medical School Research Fund UNC School of Public Health/NC Collaboratory: $29 million Duke University Human Vaccine Institute: $15 million ECU Brody School of Medicine: $15 million Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine: $6 million North Carolina Hospitals Rural Hospitals: $65 million Teaching Hospitals Relief Fund: $15 million General Hospital Relief Fund: $15 million Local Government Coronavirus Relief Reserve: $300 million Grants for communities: $50 million Funding for Counties: $100 million Providers and Emergency Responders Enhanced PPE and Sanitation Supplies – $50 million Association of Community Health Centers: $5 million Prescriptions for Indigent and Uninsured: $1.5 million Free and Charitable Clinics: $5 million Small Business Assistance Loans: $125 million State Government Operations: $85 million Transportation Operations: $300 million Tourism Industry Support: $5 million

Representative Jason Saine released a statement on his facebook page responding to the criticism that this legislation has received. His statement addresses many of the issues that people have had with certain language in the legislation, and it it well worth reading.

“Social media is circulating several posts about the recently passed COVID-19 response act. As often happens with social media, many of the posts are a mixture of misunderstanding, deliberate omissions, and outright untruths. • The bill is not being rammed through the legislature. The bill is the result of over a month of work by the House Select Committee on COVID 19, and the four working groups that make up the committee. These meetings were live-streamed on YouTube for the public and press to watch over weeks of committee meetings in a fully-transparent process. Over 8,000 public comments were solicited and made to the committee through the website, and hours of testimony by multiple groups were given to the working groups. This week was the first opportunity to file the final bill as the legislative session began on Tuesday. • To diminish the likelihood of frivolous lawsuits, which drive up healthcare prices for everyone, the bill provides enhanced immunity to liability for health care providers responding to the COVID crisis. However, such immunity is limited to providers acting in good faith. Immunity would not apply if the damages were caused by willful or intentional misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm on the part of the health care facility or provider. This type of tort reform to prevent frivolous lawsuits is a priority for many conservatives in healthcare policy to lower costs and improve access for patients. • While the bill allows for the limited release of health information by local health departments to law enforcement (Section 16), that information is only for limited use and is still constrained by Federal Health Privacy laws (HIPPA) • The bill was approved unanimously in the House. The representative who voted against the initial proposal voted for its final passage. Every conservative Republican in the North Carolina House voted for and supported the bill and it passed 120-0. • The bill does NOT increase the ability of law enforcement to engage in searches or seizures, nor does it allow for police to search or detain any individual without judicial due process. • Nothing in the bill provides for mandatory vaccination. The COVID response act is the result of thousands of hours of work and is intended to be a bridge to get North Carolina through an unprecedented health emergency. It will provide $125 million dollars in relief for small businesses in North Carolina and streamline the unemployment process for those suffering job loss at this time. It also will enhance the ability of our health and education system to respond to this emergency. I am proud to have supported it.”

If you have any further questions about this legislation or how the state is responding to help N.C. while we are subject to Governor Cooper’s lockdown, feel free to contact my office at (919) 733-5931. Or email my office at

Colossians 1:11-12 “Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”

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