A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT TO AMEND THE LAWS RELATED TO (1) LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS' RELIEF FUNDS, THE STATEWIDE FIREFIGHTERS' RELIEF FUND, AND THE RESCUE SQUAD WORKERS' RELIEF FUND, (2) WORKERS' COMPENSATION FOR FIREFIGHTERS AND RESCUE SQUAD WORKERS, (3) SUPPLEMENTAL PENSIONS FOR FIREFIGHTERS AND RESCUE SQUAD WORKERS, AND (4) THE VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT FUND AND VOLUNTEER RESCUE/EMS FUND, AS RECOMMENDED BY THE JOINT LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM EVALUATION OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE.
Amends Article 84 of GS Chapter 58, changing the title of Article 84 to Local Firefighters' Relief Funds (was, Fund Derived from Insurance Companies).
GS 58-84-5 defines terms as they apply in Articles 84 through 88 of GS Chapter 58. Defines fire districtas a political subdivision of the state that meets all of the specified conditions. Amends those conditions as follows: (1) provides that a fire district is rated and certified by the Commissioner (was, enforces the fire laws to the satisfaction of the Commissioner) and (2) adds the condition that a fire district's response area has to have been approved by the local municipal government or, if there is no local municipal government, by the local board of county commissioners.
Amends GS 58-84-25 to provide that the 3% deducted from the tax proceeds credited to the Department of Insurance (Department) under GS 105-228.5(d)(3) and paid to the treasurer of the State Firemen's Association is for administrative purposes (was, general purposes). Directs the Insurance Commissioner to deduct 2% (was, 1%) from the tax proceeds and retain the same in the Department's budget to administer the disbursement of funds by the board of trustees under the provisions of GS 58-84-35.
Enacts GS 58-84-32 todirect local boards of trustees to manage local relief funds as prudent trustees of the funds, subject to GS Chapter 36E.
Amends GS 58-84-35 to replace the term "fireman" with the term "firefighter." Provides criteria for a determination as to whether a firefighter who is a member of the State Fireman's Association (SFA) qualifies as destitute and is therefore eligible for assistance under Article 84. Providing assistance to a member requires the approval of the Executive Director of the SFA. Adds to the approved purposes for disbursement of funds derived under Article 84 to provide that funds may be used for (1) payment of firefighters' monthly assessments for the NC Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers' Pension Fund, (2) the payment of premiums to the Workers' Compensation Fund established under GS 58-87-10, and (3) to provide for required annual firefighter physical exams. Makes conforming changes to subsection (b) of GS 58-84-35. Adds a subsection (c) to define the term financially unsoundas used in subsection (b) of this section, and a subsection (d) to declare that a local board of trustees is not restricted to making disbursements only from the interest earned on the local board's relief fund.
Amends GS 58-84-40 to more precisely specify what the accounting records and certified reports maintained by each local board of trustees must contain. Also elaborates on the required content to be included in the State Firemen's Association annual certification to the Department of Insurance.
Enacts GS 58-84-41 to require the Commissioner of Insurance to develop and maintain a database of the information reported in GS 58-84-40(b), and to issue a unique fire department identification number (FDID) to each fire department in the state to be used to coordinate database records and reports. Requires the data base to be operational by December 1, 2015.
Enacts GS 58-84-52 to provide that benefits are available to individual firefighters whose departments are not members of the State Firemen's Association. Declares that benefits under this section are to be paid from funds forfeited from local departments to the statewide Firefighters' Relief Fund.
Enacts GS 58-84-65 to repeal certain local laws that are inconsistent with Article 84 of GS Chapter 58. Enumerates the content of provisions contained in any local act that was enacted or amended before January 1, 2014, which are repealed.
Amends GS 58-84-25, effective July 1, 2015, to direct the Commissioner to distribute allocations to fire districts and provides that allocationsmust be distributed electronically unless a district is unable to receive funds electronically, in which case the allocation may be made by paper check. Provides for the redistribution of certain amounts, authorizing the Commissioner to withhold distribution of funds to a fire district whose local relief fund's balance is more than the amount provided under GS 58-84-33(a), and instead distribute those funds to the fire district whose local relief funds do not exceed the amount provided under GS 58-84-33(a).
Enacts GS 58-84-33, effective July 1, 2015, to set maximum fund balances for alocal fire department's firefighters' relief fund. Directs the North Carolina State Firemen's Association to calculate and notify annually each local department of its relief fund's maximum allowable balance. Those with a balance exceeding allowable amount are not entitled to a distribution for that year.
Amends Article 85 of GS Chapter 58. Changes the title of Article 85 to Statewide Firefighters' Relief Fund(was, State Appropriation). Amends GS 58-85-1 to delete provision prohibiting a firefighter or county fire marshal from receiving any benefits under this section until the firefighters' city or town relief fund has been exhausted. Makes a conforming change.
Amends GS 58-85-10 to add the Commissioner of Insurance as a required recipient of the detailed annual report generated by the treasurer of the NC State Firemen's Association.
Enacts new GS 58-85-35 to direct the NC State Firemen's Association to manage the Firefighters' Relief Fund as a prudent trustee, subject to GS Chapter 36E. Enacts GS 58-88-35 to also direct the Association to manage the Rescue Squad Workers' Relief Fund as a prudent trustee.
Requires the Department of Insurance, beginning on April 1, 2016, and each year after that, to report to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Information Technology specified information regarding disbursement andspending, and fund balance for the following: (1) each local firefighters' relief fund board, (2) the State Firemen's Association, and (3) the NC Association of Rescue and Emergency Medical Services, Inc.
Amends GS 58-87-10 to provide that the Workers Compensation Fund is for the benefit of certain (was, volunteer) safety workers. Makes conforming change to the definition of the term "eligible unit." Adds a definition for eligible entityas used in this section to mean (1) the NC State Firemen's Association, (2) the NC Association of Fire Chiefs, Incorporated, and (3) the NC Association of Rescue and Emergency Medical Services. Provides that the revenue in the Workers' Compensation Fund is to be used to provide workers' compensation benefits to members of eligible units plus the employees and volunteers of eligible entities. Amends subsection (e) of this section regarding the source of revenue credited to the Workers' Compensation Fund (Fund). Provides that in addition to every eligible unit, every eligible entity that chooses to participate must pay into the Fund the amount set annually by the State Fire and Rescue Commission. Provides details as to the amount for each member of the eligible unit or for each employee or volunteer of an eligible entity and provides that the amount may vary based on whether the individual is a volunteer, a part-time employee, or a full-time employee.
Amends Section 20.2(f) of SL 2013-360 to change the effective date of subsection (e), concerning DOI's actuarial study to calculate the amount needed to meet the needs of the Workers' Compensation fund for the benefit of volunteer safety workers,from April 1, 2016, to January 1, 2015.
Rewrites GS 58-87-10(f), as amended by Section 20.2(e) of SL 2013-360, effective January 1, 2015, to direct the Department of Insurance to conduct an actuarial study annually. Requires that the study calculate at minimum a five-year projection of the amount required to meet the needs of the Fund. Specifies criteria for the conducting of the annual actuarial study and requirements regarding the substantive content of the annual funding study. Requires that the study conducted under this subsection must be reviewed by the Office of State Budget and Management.
Specifies steps that must be taken when the State Fire and Rescue Commission contracts with a third-party administrator.
Amends GS 58-86-55 to clarify that a firefighter or rescue worker is eligible to receive a monthly pension when the individual meets the age requirement of 55 years and has served 20 years as an eligible firefighter or eligible rescue squad worker in the state of North Carolina. Deletes provision restricting a member from eligibility for a pension until the member's official duties as a fireman or rescue squad worker have been terminated and the member has retired. Makes organizational changes, dividing the provisions of GS 58-86-55 into subsections.
Amends GS 105-228.5(d)(3) regarding the additional tax rate applied to gross premiums on insurance contracts for property overage. Reduces the amount of the net proceeds of this additional tax that is credited to the Volunteer Fire Department Fund established in Article 87 of GS Chapter 58 from 25% to 20%.
Using a portion of the additional funds made available to the General Fund via the amendment to GS 105-228.5(d)(3) above, appropriates $1.4 million for fiscal year 2014-15 as a recurring allocation from the General Fund to the North Carolina Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers' Pension Fund established under GS 58-86-1.
Directs the Department of the State Treasurer to report by March 1, 2015, and for two years following, to the House Committee on State Personnel and the Senate Committee on Pensions & Retirement and Aging on the Department's progress toward specified efforts related to the NC Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers' Pension Fund.
Amends GS 58-87-1(a1) regarding the grant program for eligible fire departments. Provides that an applicant must match the grant, which may not exceed a maximum of $30,000, on a dollar for dollar basis except when the applicant receives less than $50,000 per year from other sources. In such cases the applicant must match one dollar for each three dollars of grant funds. Effective January 1, 2015, and applies to the 2015 grant process.
Amends GS 58-87-1(c) to specify information required to be contained in the written report the Commissioner must submit to the General Assembly within 60 days after the grants have been made.
Amends GS 58-87-5, adding a new subsection (d) to also require the Commissioner to submit the written report as specified in GS 58-87-1(c) and delineates the same required content as required in GS 58-87-1(c).
Amends GS 58-87-7 to provide that the Office of State Fire Marshall and other employees of the Department of Insurance may conduct on-site inspections at their discretion of equipment and supplies purchased with funds awarded either from the Volunteer Fire Department Fund or the Volunteer Rescue/EMS Fund for up to five years from the date of the grant award. Also provides that if a grant recipient disposes of equipment purchased with a grant award within five years of the date of the grant funding the purchase, the grant recipient must reimburse the appropriate fund the amount of funds used for the equipment purchase, minus any depreciation of value. Additionally, provides that if a grant recipient ceases to exist within five years of the date of the award, then it must transfer any and all equipment purchased with the grant funds to whichever department assumes responsibility for providing service to the grant recipient's area of service or to another appropriate department that may effectively use the equipment. Effective July 1, 2015.
Specifies actions that the Department of Insurance must take by July 1, 2015to facilitate the implementation and enforcement of GS 58-87-7.
Requires that the Department report to the Joint Program Evaluation Oversight Committee, no later than January 1, 2015, on the Department's efforts to update and correct its computer code that assigns points to grant applicants for funds awarded under Article 87 of GS Chapter 58.
Except as otherwise provided, this act is effective July 1, 2014.