Bill Summary for S 15 (2015-2016)

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Summary date: 

Feb 11 2015

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
Senate Bill 15 (Public) Filed Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Intro. by Rucho.

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Bill summary

Senate committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition.

Changes the short and long titles.

Makes technical and organizational changes to the bill.

Adds new Part II to the bill titled "Unemployment Law Changes," amending GS 20-7(b2) to give the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) authority to disclose Social Security numbers to the Department of Commerce (Commerce), Division of Employment Security (DES), for the purpose of verifying employer and claimant identity. Amends GS 96-9.2(c) and changes the end date of the 12-month period used to calculate "total insured wages" for contribution rates to June 30 (was, July 31). Applies to contributions payable for calendar quarters beginning on or after January 1, 2014.

Amends the actively seeking work requirement as found in GS 96-14.9(e), requiring individuals to make at least five job contacts (was, sought work on at least two different days during the week and made at least two contacts) with potential employers each week to fulfill the work-seeking requirement. Effective July 1, 2015, applying to claims for benefits on or after that date.

Amends GS 96-15(h), making clarifying and technical changes regarding judicial review of hearing decisions of the Board of Review. Provides that a decision of the Board of Review becomes final thirty days after the date of mailing unless a party to the decision seeks judicial review. Effective July 1, 2015, applying to decisions made on or after that date.

Amends GS 96-3, GS 96-4(j), and GS 96-9.15(f) regarding the DES, deleting and/or replacing the language that referred to the Employment Security Section and the Employment Insurance Section within DES.

Enacts new GS 1-359(b) to provide that when DES wins a civil action against an employer to collect unpaid employment taxes, DES can attach or garnish the employer's credit card receipts in recovering the unpaid taxes. Direct receipt of those funds by DES represents a sufficient discharge for the amount paid by the credit card company.

Amends GS 96-10(b)(1) regarding collections of contributions, providing that any judgment that is executable and allowed by GS 96-10 will be subject to attachment and garnishment for payment of unpaid taxes as provided in GS 1-359(b).

Amends GS 96-14.9, concerning weekly certification of eligibility for benefits, requiring individuals to present valid photo identification when requested to report to the DES. Also sets out what is considered to be a valid photo ID.

Amends Section 1.10(c) of SL 2011-401 to extend the deadline for rule and regulation readoption by the Division of Employment Security, as required by the Administrative Procedure Act in GS Chapter 150B, Article 2A, to require any existing rule that has not been readopted and filed with the Rules Review Commission by May 20, 2015 to expire (was, if not readopted by December 31, 2012, will expire).

Repeals GS 96-14.4, Duration of benefits for individual claimant. Effective July 1, 2015, applying to claims for benefits made on or after July 1, 2015.

Amends GS 96-14.3, changing the title to Duration of benefits (was, Minimum and maximum duration of benefits). Deletes any language referencing minimum or maximum number of weeks and establishes that the maximum number of weeks will now serve as the number of weeks an individual will receive benefits according to the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate. Provides that the total benefits paid to an individual is calculated by multiplying the individual's weekly benefit by the number of weeks allowed under GS 14.3(a). Effective July 1, 2015, applying to claims for benefits made on or after July 1, 2015.

Amends GS 96-14.12(b) to provide that the duration of benefits for an individual who is unemployed based on services provided to a corporation in which the individual held 5 percent or more outstanding of voting stock will be limited to six weeks (previously, it was the lesser of six weeks or the weeks determined under now repealed GS 94-14.4).  Effective July 1, 2015, applying to claims for benefits made on or after July 1, 2015.

Amends GS 96-16(f), updating statutory references, replacing GS 96-14.4 with GS 96-14.3. Effective July 1, 2015, applying to claims for benefits made on or after July 1, 2015. 

Adds new Part III to the bill titled "Division of Employment Security Board of Review," providing that decisions issued in an appeal by a party to a decision of an appeals referee or hearing officer that were issued by the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the Division of Employment Security or by the Secretary of Commerce’s designee, as well as decisions issued by the three individuals appointed by the Governor in December 2013 to serve on the DES Board of Review (Board), are validated and are given the same legal effect as if they had been issued by the Board. Effective when the act becomes law and applies to decisions rendered on or after November 1, 2011.

Repeals GS 96-4(b) and Section 21 of SL 2013-224, both of which concern the DES Board and the appointment process.

Enacts new GS 96-15.3, Board of Review, expounding on the appointment process for the Board. Establishes the Board to determine appeals policies and procedures as well as to hear appeals arising from decisions and determinations of DES.  Directs the Department of Commerce (Commerce) to assign staff to the Board. Requires the Board and its staff to perform job responsibilities independent of the Governor, the General Assembly, Commerce, and DES but in accordance with any written guidance issued by the US Department of Labor.

Establishes that the Board consists of three members, serving staggered four-year terms, with one member each classified as a representative for either employees, employers, or the public. Provides that the member serving as a representative for the general public will be the chair of the Board and is required to be a licensed attorney in North Carolina.

Provides that appointments to the Board are to be made by the Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly by joint resolution. Requires the Governor to submit the name of the individual the Governor wants to appoint to the Board to the General Assembly for confirmation on or before May 1 of the year of the expiration of the term. Provides that if the General Assembly does not confirm the appointment by May 30, the office will be considered vacant and will be subject to being filled in accordance with specified procedures. When vacancies arise when the General Assembly is in session, the Governor must submit the name of the appointee to fill the vacancy to the General Assembly for confirmation within thirty days after the vacancy arises. If the appointment is not confirmed within thirty days the office will be considered vacant and the Governor must resubmit a name for confirmation. However, the Governor cannot resubmit the same nominee that the General Assembly did not confirm.

For vacancies arising when the General Assembly is not in session, the Governor must appoint someone to the office on an interim basis, pending confirmation by the General Assembly.  Once the General Assembly is in session, the Governor must submit the name of the interim appointee within fourteen days of the date the General Assembly convenes.

Provides that if the Governor fails to submit a name for appointment in a timely manner, regardless of if  it occurs while the General Assembly is in Session, then the General Assembly can appoint an individual to the vacancy in accordance with GS 120-121. Specifies that if the vacancy occurs in an odd-numbered year then the appointment is made by recommendation of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and in even-numbered years it is filled upon recommendation of the Speaker of the House.

Provides that the term for the member serving as the employer’s representative will expire on June 30, 2015, the term for the employee representative will expire on June 30, 2016, and the term for the general public representative will expire on June 30, 2017.

Requires the Secretary of Commerce and the chair of the Board to make a detailed written report by May 1, 2015, to the chairs of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance, the chairs of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Natural and Economic Resources, the chairs of the House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural and Economic Resources, and the Fiscal Research Division. This written report is to include five specific areas of information, including measures taken to ensure the independence of Board staff and whether or not adequate staff is assigned to the Board.