A panel of state legislators, mental health and developmental disability experts and advocates, adult care home representatives, housing officials and others met Wednesday to begin working on plans to move patients out of large facilities and into communities for treatment specially tailored to them.
The 32-member Blue Ribbon Commission on Transitions to Community Living met for the first time and spent the day at the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh getting up to speed on several pressing issues.
The state is working toward that goal in an agreement with the federal Department of Justice in order to avoid being sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. A federal investigation alleged that the state has wrongly confined thousands of people in adult care homes and institutions.
Over the next eight years, the state will work to provide 3,000 places for those people to move into. The legislature has budgeted $50 million toward the goal, with $10.3 million set aside to establish 100 to 300 slots in the first year.
The state is also under pressure to reduce the percentage of mentally ill residents in adult care homes, and it has placed new limits on reimbursement for personal care services, such as for bathing, eating and dressing.
Owners of adult care homes are concerned about losing a substantial number of patients. Others are concerned that mentally ill people will become homeless.
Next week, the commission will begin meeting in subcommittees and spend the rest of the year digging into the issues. A final report will go to the General Assembly in January.
State Senate districts targeted
A Washington-based Republican group has named a few races it considers most important to determining the makeup of the North Carolina state Senate.
GOPAC, which recruits and trains promising Republican politicians, used the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte as an occasion to turn the spotlight on North Carolina.
In the historic election of 2010, Republicans earned a majority in the N.C. Senate and House for the first time in over 140 years, said spokeswoman Michelle Selesky. Democrats are pulling off all the stops this year to take it back.
The group named the following five races the most likely to play a role in helping Republicans maintain this majority:
• District 17 in suburban Raleigh; Republican Tamara Barringer faces Democrat Erv Portman.
• District 15 in suburban Raleigh; Republican Sen. Neal Hunt faces Democrat Sig Hutchinson.
• District 9 in New Hanover; Republican Sen. Thom Goolsby faces Democrat Deb Butler.
• District 18 in Franklin County; Republican Chad Barefoot faces Democratic Sen. Doug Berger.
• District 19 in Cumberland County; Republican Sen. Wesley Meredith faces Democrat George Tatum.
State employees gathering
The State Employees Association of North Carolina kicks off its annual three-day convention Thursday in Greensboro. Among the featured speakers: GOP gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, a Republican from Rockingham County.
Not speaking at the labor group gathering: Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton. A scheduling conflict required Dalton to decline the invitation, according to SEANC.
There is one Democratic candidate for statewide office on the agenda: Linda Coleman, who is running for lieutenant governor, will speak.
SEANCs PAC did endorse Coleman, and skipped an endorsement in the governor race.
An Ohio-based group that protests abortions by driving box trucks with images of what are purported to be aborted fetuses on the sides and back is coming to Raleigh next week.
Created Equal plans to display the images in front of the Legislative Building from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. The graphic protest has appeared in Ohio and Florida and in Charlotte this week during the convention.
Its organizer says it is targeting battleground states in the election. The Raleigh protest will be joined by Operation Rescue members.
Created Equal is part of a national movement to amend state constitutions to outlaw abortions by defining a human life as beginning at conception.
Staff writers Craig Jarvis and Austin Baird
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