Under the Dome

Dome: New law requires hospitals to post prices online

From Staff ReportsAugust 21, 2013 

MCCRORY03-NE-072613-CCS

Gov. Pat McCrory speaks during a press conference held at the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh, NC on July 26, 2013.

CHRIS SEWARD — cseward@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

On Wednesday, Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a bill that requires hospitals to post online their prices for 140 common services and procedures – and makes changes to the state personnel act. The law also bans hospitals in some situations from placing a lien on someone’s house to collect unpaid bills.

Near the end of the session, the bill was attached to another that sought changes to state personnel rules. It creates 500 more political patronage jobs, bringing the total to 1,500, and reduces the grievance process for state employees.

McCrory has 34 bills left on his desk.

Group opposes casino

A conservative group is urging its members to call McCrory’s office to ask him to oppose a new tribal gaming casino in Cleveland County.

The N.C. Family Policy Council sent an “alert” Tuesday warning members about a potential Las Vegas-style casino along Interstate 85 owned by the Catawba Indian Nation. John Rustin, the advocacy group’s president, said the casino “would be devastating to the surrounding area.”

As first reported by The News & Observer, local officials met with the McCrory administration at the potential site a few weeks ago. A McCrory spokeswoman called it a local initiative, but the governor would need to sign a gaming compact to make the project happen.

“Not only would a casino cannibalize an already suffering local economy, but it would wreak havoc on the lives of individuals and families in North Carolina, South Carolina and beyond who become victimized by the ravages of gambling addiction,” said Rustin. “We urge Governor McCrory to take a hard stand against gambling expansion in North Carolina and cease any and all discussions regarding a casino with the Catawba Indian Nation.”

The email also asks members to call state Sen. Warren Daniel and state Reps. Kelly Hastings and Tim Moore, all Republicans, to urge them to oppose the project, too.

DHHS staff gets ‘at will’ notice

Dr. Aldona Wos, state Health and Human Services secretary, sent email to some agency staff Tuesday telling them they’re going to become “at will” employees, meaning they will no longer be protected under the state Personnel Act.

The Republican legislature gave McCrory about 1,500 more patronage positions than Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat, had.

The email went out to 389 employees, according to records received from the Office of State Human Resources. Included in the positions: chief medical examiner, director of the Wright School for children with mental or behavioral disorders, mental health program managers and physicians.

In her email, Wos said employees would be having individual discussions with their supervisors about the change but that she wanted to communicate directly “regarding what this change means and why it is necessary.”

She went on to write: “As Secretary, it is my duty and responsibility to the state to build and maintain a team of the very best, brightest and most committed people who work diligently to protect the health and safety of the people of North Carolina. And it is also my duty to hold leaders with significant responsibilities accountable for results.

“This change will help the Department fulfill our overall mission by strengthening leadership through increasing accountability.”

McCrory turns up heat on GOP

McCrory is using Facebook to put pressure on 26 House Republicans to sustain his vetoes.

“Contact your representative, Susan Martin @ 919-715-3023 who represents Pitt county and tell her to sustain my vetoes of fiscally irresponsible & job-killing legislation: HB 392 & HB 786,” reads one post. The others follow the same format and link to a video of McCrory explaining his vetoes.

The direct targeting of lawmakers from his own party is a new tactic for McCrory. The governor spent the legislative session trying to get to know lawmakers, inviting dozens to breakfast at the mansion, but still found himself in the back seat for much of the session.

Rep. Mike Hager, a Rutherfordton Republican, said Wednesday the move may be backfiring. He said the GOP caucus already has the votes to override the vetoes and more members have moved in that direction since McCrory began his appeals.

It looks like the lawmakers may return Sept. 3 or 4 to vote.

Staff writers John Frank and Lynn Bonner

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