Bill Summary for H 556 (2015-2016)

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Summary date: 

Jun 18 2015

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
House Bill 556 (Public) Filed Thursday, April 2, 2015
Intro. by Avila, Lambeth, Hanes, Meyer.

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Bill summary

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

Deletes all of new GS 116-209.25A, "Achieving a Better Life Experience Trust Fund," from GS Chapter 116, Article 23, and instead moves and amends that content as new Article 6E, "Achieving a Better Life Experience Program Trust," in GS Chapter 147.

Enacts new GS 147-86.50 to provide policy and definitions for this act. Clarifies that the General Assembly's policy findings and declarations regarding encouraging and assisting individuals in saving private funds for the purpose of supporting individuals with disabilities are authorized under the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.

Makes conforming changes as needed to reflect that this section is now new Article 6E in GS Chapter 147.

Edits definitions as they apply in this section.

Amends the definition for "account owner," deleting provision that allowed a trustee or guardian to be appointed a signatory on an ABLE account and act on behalf of an account owner or designated beneficiary who is a minor or lacks capacity to enter into an agreement.

Adds a definition for "board," meaning the ABLE Program Board of Trustees established in GS 147-86.52 as enacted in this act.

Defines "disability certification" as it is defined in 26 USC �_ 529A(e)(2). Defines "eligible individual" as it is defined in 26 USC �_ 529A(e)(1). Defines "qualified disability expense" as it is defined in 26 USC �_ 529A(e)(5).

Adds a definition for "federal ABLE Act," defining it as Division B of the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, P.L. 113-295, the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014.

Enacts new GS 147-86.51 which establishes an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Program Trust (was, Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Trust Fund). Provides that the ABLE Program Trust (ABLE Program) is to be administered by the ABLE Program Board of Trustees (Board) as established in new GS 146-86.52 of this act (was, to be administered by the State Education Assistance Authority). Makes conforming changes throughout the act to reflect the change in the ABLE title and in the entity charged with administering the ABLE Program Trust. Replaces references to the "Authority" with the "Board." Prohibits contributions to an ABLE account from exceeding maximum contribution limits applicable to program accounts in accordance with the federal ABLE Act. Makes additional conforming changes to remove subsections regarding the Authority's administration of the ABLE Trust Fund its investments. Instead, addresses investment and administration responsibilities of the Board in new GS 147-86.52.

Enacts new GS 147-86.52 to establish the six-member ABLE Program Board of Trustees (Board) to oversee and administer the ABLE Program. Provides criteria for Board members, sets terms for members and specifies the duties of the Board. Requires the Board to determine an appropriate investment strategy. Provides that a person serving on the Board is immune individually from civil liability for monetary damages, and exempt from civil liability to the extent covered by insurance, for any act or failure to act arising out of service on the Board; however, provides exceptions to individual immunity in instances where the person (1) was not acting in good faith, (2) was not acting within the scope of the person's official duties, (3) committed gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct that resulted in damages or injury, or (4) derived an improper personal financial benefit, directly or indirectly, from the transaction. Includes reporting requirements for the Board and provides criteria governing when the Board may enter into agreements with other states to allow North Carolina residents to participate in aqualified ABLE Program Trustwith anotherstate or allow residents of other states to participate in North Carolina's qualified ABLE Program Trust.

Enacts GS 147-86.53 to specify criteria and guidelines for the Board's administration of the ABLE Program. Specifies what the board may delegate to the State Treasurer. Specifies costs that may be paid directly from the ABLE Program Trust. Clarifies that an ABLE account is not to be considered a resource for purposes of means-tested state benefits, nor are distributions for qualified disability expenses to be considered income for any state benefits eligibility program that limits eligibility based on income. Provides that to the extent provided in subsection 26 USC �_ 529A(f), upon the death of a beneficiary, the state has a claim for payment from the beneficiary's account in an amount that is equal to the total medical assistance paid for the designated beneficiary after the account was established. Provides timelines for the state to file its repayment claim. Provides additional criteria regarding the Notice of Death of a Designated Beneficiary and the Notice to Account Owner for Designated Beneficiary Receiving Medicaid. Provides that the information related to individual ABLE accounts are not public records as defined in GS Chapter 132.

Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to give information to and assist the Department of State Treasurer (Treasurer) and enter into a data sharing agreement with the Treasurer to implement the act.

Authorizes the Treasurer and DHHS to adopt rules necessary to implement this act.

Requires the Treasurer to start accepting contributions authorized under this act when federal regulations regarding the Achieving a Better Life Experience Program have been issued and provide guidance necessary to implement the Achieving a Better Life Experience Trust Fund Program. Allows the Board to delay implementation of the act, if the federal regulations are materially inconsistent with this act, until a change in this act has been made. Requires a written report, if the Board delays implementation, to the Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate identifying the changes in this act that must be made to be consistent with federal regulation.

Requires the Board created in GS 147-86.52 to be organized immediately after a majority of the members have been qualified or appointed and have taken the oath of office. Sets initial trustee terms to expire on June 30, 2018.