Bill Summary for S 704 (2019-2020)

Summary date: 

Apr 29 2020

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
Senate Bill 704 (Public) Filed Tuesday, April 28, 2020
AN ACT TO PROVIDE AID TO NORTH CAROLINIANS IN RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19) CRISIS.
Intro. by Brown, Harrington, B. Jackson, J. Alexander, T. Alexander, Ballard, Berger, Blue, Britt, Bryan, Burgin, Chaudhuri, Clark, Daniel, D. Davis, J. Davis, deViere, Edwards, Fitch, Ford, Foushee, Gallimore, Garrett, Gunn, Hise, Horner, Johnson, Krawiec, Lowe, Marcus, McInnis, Murdock, Newton, Perry, Peterson, Rabon, Robinson, Sanderson, Sawyer, Searcy, Smith, Steinburg, Tillman, Waddell, Wells, Woodard.

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Bill summary

Part I.

Titles the act as the "2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act."

Defines coronavirus or COVID-19 as the Coronavirus Disease 2019. Defines COVID-19 Recovery Legislation as: (1) Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, PL 116-136; (2) Families First Coronavirus Response Act, PL 116-127; (3) Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act 2020, PL 116-123; and (4) Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, PL 116-139.

Sets out NCGA findings and the purpose of the act.

Specifies that the appropriations and allocations made in the act are for maximum amounts necessary to implement the act. Requires State agencies to maximize the use of federal funds made available in the act wherever possible within the allowable uses before using other State funds.

Provides that if an allocation made in the act is disallowed by federal law, then the disallowed allocation is repealed and the amount of the disallowed funds is to be transferred to the new Coronavirus Relief Fund. 

Requires the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) to  work with the recipient State agencies to budget receipts awarded pursuant to COVID-19 Recovery Legislation according to the program needs and within the parameters of the respective granting entities and applicable federal laws and regulations. Prohibits State agencies from using these funds for recurring purposes. Specifies that revenue replacement is not a permissible use of funds received pursuant to the CARES Act. Allows the employment of additional temporary state personnel depending on the nature of the award.

Requires OSBM to report to the specified NCGA commission and division by March 1, 2021, on the use of funds allocated under Section 3.3 of this act. Also requires recipient agencies and departments to report to the specified NCGA commission and division no later than 90 days from the day the grant period ends on the use of funds. Specifies what information is to be included in the reports.  

Part II.

Requires the State Controller to establish a Coronavirus Relief Reserve (Reserve) in the General Fund to maintain federal funds received from the Coronavirus Relief Fund created under The CARES Act. Requires the transfer of funds to the Coronavirus Relief Fund established in this act only as needed to meet the appropriations in this act and only upon request of the Director of the Budget. Specifies that funds reserved in the Reserve do not constitute an "appropriation made by law," as used in Section 7(1) of Article V of the North Carolina Constitution.

Establishes the Coronavirus Relief Fund (Fund) to provide relief and assistance from the effects of COVID-19, consistent with the provisions of this act and subsequent legislation addressing the effects of COVID-19. Requires OSBM to administer the Fund. Requires funds allocated from the Fund to be used for necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 and limits funding eligibility to expenditures incurred from March 1, 2020, to December 30, 2020.

Requires the State Controller to establish a DOT Coronavirus Relief Reserve (DOT Reserve) in the General Fund to maintain certain federal funds transferred from the Reserve that are eligible to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in the State on the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the State transportation system. Requires the transfer of $300 million from the Reserve to the DOT Reserve. States the NCGA's intent to appropriate up to $300 million if DOT experiences a revenue shortfall and the CARES Act is amended to allow the use of federal funds for that purpose. Specifies that funds reserved in the DOT Reserve do not constitute an "appropriation made by law," as that phrase is used in Section 7(1) of Article V of the North Carolina Constitution.

Requires the State Controller to establish a Local Government Coronavirus Relief Reserve (Local Reserve) in the General Fund to maintain certain federal funds transferred from the Reserve that are eligible to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in North Carolina on the revenue of local governments. Requires the transfer of $300 million from the Reserve to the Local Reserve. States the NCGA's intent to appropriate up to $300 million if local governments experience a revenue shortfall and the CARES Act is amended to allow the use of federal funds for that purpose. Specifies that funds reserved in the Local Reserve do not constitute an "appropriation made by law," as that phrase is used in Section 7(1) of Article V of the North Carolina Constitution.

Part III.

Directs the State Controller to transfer $598,090,000 from the Coronavirus Relief Reserve to the Coronavirus Relief Fund (Fund) for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Appropriates $473,090,000 in nonrecurring funds to OSBM for the 2019-20 fiscal year to be allocated and used as provided below. Specifies that the funds do not revert at the end of the fiscal year and instead remain available until December 30, 2020.

Directs OSBM to allocate funds in specified amounts for specified purposes to the following entities: the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for the NC Healthcare Foundation, the NC Senior Living Association, and the NC Medical Society for supplies and equipment; DHHS, Division of Social Services (DSS), for the six food banks in North Carolina; DHHS, Division of Social Services, for facilities licensed to accept State-County Special Assistance for resident services support; DHHS, DSS, for foster care services; DHHS, DSS, for LINKS program funding; the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for animal depopulation and disposal; OSBM for the NC Association of Free and Charitable Clinics for health services costs; OSBM for the NC Community Health Centers Association for health services costs; the Community Colleges System Office to support online learning capacity; the UNC Board of Governors for online learning, facility sanitation, and student and employee assistance; the UNC Board of Governors for the State Education Assistance Authority for online learning and student assistance; OSBM for the General Assembly for Wake Forest University Health Services for research data; OSBM for Wake Forest University Health Services to expand its COVID-19 study; OSBM for Duke University Human Vaccine Institute for COVID-19 vaccine development; Department of Commerce to contract with a corporation for marketing COVID-19 concepts, strategies, and materials; OSBM for continuity of operations needs across state government; OSBM for the Old North State Medical Society Inc. to target rural areas and African American communities with outreach, health education, and testing; Department of Information Technology to purchase mobile Wi-Fi routers for development tier one and two areas; UNC-Chapel Hill for the NC Policy Collaboratory to coordinate entities’ COVID-19 response and development; Department of Public Instruction for summer learning programs (DPI); DPI for school nutrition services; Department of Information Technology for the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology Fund for supplemental funding for grantee projects that will increase broadband access or provision; and DHHS for COVID-19 testing, tracing, and trend-tracking expansion.

Part IV.

Provides that except for funds subject to the small business loan fund under the act or to Section 2.1 of the act, funds received from federal grants authorized under the COVID-19 Recovery Legislation are appropriated in the amounts specified in the award notification from the federal government or entity administering the funds. Allows State agencies, with approval from the Director of the Budget, to spend funds received from federal receipts and grants resulting from enactment of the COVID-19 Recovery Legislation that are not subject to Section 2.1 of the act. Specifies that Section 2.2(c) of SL 2019-192 (requiring that each program category under the Community Development Block Grant be increased by the same percentage as the increase in federal funds) for block grants appropriated by Congress in addition to the funds specified in the act) does not apply to grant funds received under the COVID-19 Recovery Legislation.

Sets out a schedule allocating specific funding amounts to 38 different specified programs. Provides that the programs and amounts ares estimates of the State's allocations from the COVID-19 Recovery Legislation and is illustrative of federal grants that have or will be received by the State in addition to the approximate $3.5 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Relief Fund under the CARES Act. Specifies that no funds authorized under the CARES Act for election security are appropriated in the act and that the NCGA intends to appropriate funds for election security in a subsequent act. 

Allocates $125 million to OSBM for Golden LEAF for grants to entities to make emergency loans to assist small businesses with business needs during periods of economic hardship occasioned by the epidemic. States the NCGA's intent for an equitable portion of funds to be used to benefit historically underutilized small businesses. Details ten requirements and criteria for the loans, including working with specified entities to ensure that all qualifying businesses are aware of the program, setting a maximum term of the loan to 66 months and a maximum amount of the loan at $50,000 per qualifying business, and barring the award of new loans using State funds appropriated in the act at six months following the date the state of emergency, defined by Executive Order No. 116 issued on March 10, 2020, ends. Additionally, directs Golden LEAF to require lenders to prioritize loans for establishments with 100 or fewer full-time equivalent employees as of the State of Emergency, and that are independently owned by a qualifying business. Sets forth seven defined terms. Defines a qualifying business to mean a business with a physical presence in the state that is able to show economic losses as a result of COVID-19. Predicates the appropriations upon Golden LEAF matching State funds at $15 of non-State funds for every $125 of State funds appropriated by the act. Allows for matching by prior non-State fund expenditures as specified. Requires Golden LEAF to remit the net loan funds that have been received to OSBM every six months following the end of the state of emergency. Requires OSBM to deposit the funds into the General Fund. Specifies that amounts deposited into the Reserve are receipts that do not constitute "an appropriation made by law" as used in Section 7(1) of Article V of the NC Constitution. Establishes biannual reporting requirements for Golden LEAF to report to specified NCGA committees and division on the program. Terminates the reporting requirement after submission of the report following remittance of the entirety of the net loan fund to OSBM. Details required contents of the reports, including the number of loans awarded and jobs retained, and the amount of loans repaid and defaulted to date.

Part V.

Sets out five defined terms and states the purpose of Part V is to clarify or modify certain requirements in consideration of actions and circumstances related to the COVID-19 emergency, including federal testing waiver and the school closure period. Defines the school closure period as the period beginning March 16, 2020, and continuing until the latest of May 15, 2020, the date specified by an executive order superseding the school closure period in Executive Order No. 120, Additional Limitations on Mass Gatherings, Restrictions on Venues and Long Term Care Facilities, and Extension of School Closure Date, or the date specified in any such executive order superseding the superseding executive order.

Waives end-of-grade and end-of-course tests for the 2019-20 school year.

Requires public school units to administer the norm-referenced college admissions tests made available by the State Board of Education (State Board) during the fall semester of the 2020-21 school year to all 2019-20 eleventh grade students who were not administered the test during the 2019-20 school year, unless a student has already taken a comparable test and scored at or above a level set by the State Board. Defines school closure period to mean the period beginning March 16, 2020, and continuing until the latest of: May 15, 2020, the date specified by an executive order superseding the school closure period in Executive Order No. 120, or the date specified in any executive order superseding the executive order superseding Executive Order No. 120.

Specifies that no additional diagnostic and formative reading assessments beyond those administered prior to the school closure period, as defined, are required for the 2019-20 school year for kindergarten through third grade students.

Specifies that local administrative units are not required to administer the WorkKeys tests to any students who complete a concentration in career and technical education courses for the spring semester of the 2019-20 school year.

Makes the provisions of GS 115C-12(9)c1., which sets out the State Board’s duty to issue State report cards for each local school administrative unit, and GS 115C-83.15(a) through (f), which requires the State Board to award school achievement, growth, and performance scores and sets forth calculation factors, inapplicable for the 2020-21 school year based on data from the 2019-20 school year. Requires the State Board to display a brief explanation that report cards for schools were not issued for the 2020-21 school year on the Department of Public Instruction (DPI)’s website, as required under GS 115C-83.15(g). Similarly, requires public school units to display a brief explanation that report cards for schools were not issued for the 2020-21 school year, as required by specified state laws requiring distribution of issued report cards.

Directs that educational performance and growth of students in alternative schools and alternative programs are not to be evaluated based on data for the 2019-20 school year to the extent those performance and growth measures of students in alternative schools and alternative programs are measured based on the performance accountability system developed under GS 115C-83.15 and GS 115C-105.35.

Directs that the requirements for local school administrative units to produce and make public a school building report under GS 115C-12(9)c3. and GS 115C-47(35) do not apply for the October 15, 2020, report based on building level data from the 2019-20 school year.

Sets forth parameters regarding low-performing schools, continually low-performing schools, and low-performing local school administrative units for the 2020-21 school year. Prohibits the State Board from identifying additional low-performing schools, continually low-performing schools, and low-performing local school administrative units based on data from the 2019-20 school year and requires those previously identified based on data from the 2018-19 school year to continue to be identified as low-performing or continually low-performing and continue to carry out the final plan approved by the local board of education. Requires the State Board and local board of education to continue to provide access to each low-performing school and low-performing local school administrative unit’s plan. Specifies that local boards of education must include with their online final plans a brief explanation that low-performing identification continues pending assessment data from the 2020-21 school year for both low-performing schools and low-performing local school administrative units, though written parental notice is not required to be provided again. Additionally, suspends the authority of the State Board to appoint an interim superintendent in an identified local school administrative unit under GS 115C-105.39(c) through (e). For continually low-performing schools, requires assistance and intervention levels provided for the 2019-20 school year based on designation as low-performing for two or three years to continue and allows local boards of education to request to reform a continually low-performing school pursuant to GS 115C-105.37B.

Prohibits the State Board from identifying any additional schools as qualifying schools for the Innovative School District (ISD) based on data from the 2019-20 school year for the 2020-21 school year. Additionally, directs that schools identified as qualifying schools for the 2019-20 school year based on data from the 2018-19 school year must remain on the qualifying list, and the provisions of GS 115C-75.7(b1) (concerning support by the State Board and consultants), (b2) (concerning support by local boards), and (d) (concerning public notification of identified schools on the ISD website) remain applicable. Makes conforming changes to SL 2018-248 concerning the identification of an innovative school for the 2021-22 school year.

Sets forth parameters for grade level determination for the 2020-21 school year. Grants principals the authority to determine the appropriate 2020-21 school year grade level for students in the third grade during the 2019-20 school year in the same manner as for students in all other grade levels. Requires principals to designate whether a retained third grade student is retained due to reading deficiencies and encourages principals to consult with a student’s 2019-20 third grade teacher. Additionally, authorizes charter schools to determine the appropriate 2020-21 school year grade level for third grade students in the same manner that grade level classification is determined for other grade levels.

Requires parental (or guardian) notice that a first, second, or third grade student demonstrated difficulty with reading development or was not reading at grade level during the 2019-20 school year based on assessments completed on or before March 13, 2020. Requires the notice to be consistent with the requirements of GS 115C-83.9(a) and (d), which require the notification to be written and requires teachers and principals to offer opportunities to discuss the notification. Directs that the monthly written reports for parents and guardians on student progress required by GS 115C-83.9(c) do not apply during the school closure period, as defined and beginning March 16, 2020, for third-grade students retained for the 2019-20 school year based on data from the 2018-19 school year. Directs that the successful reading development strategies and requirements of GS 115C-83.8(b) through (e) and GS 115C-83.9 apply for third-grade students retained for the 2020-21 school year due to reading deficiencies in the same manner they would have had the student been retained pursuant to GS 115C-83.7(a), except that the notification regarding the exemptions in GS 115C-83.7(a) do not apply.

States that local school administrative units are not required to provide reading camps corresponding to the 2019-20 school year.

Requires public school units to administer to all fourth grade students the end-of-year diagnostic assessment otherwise required for third grade students under GS 115C-174.11 and State Board policy no later than the tenth day that school buildings are open to students for the 2020-21 school year. Mandates that the assessment results be used to identify reading deficiencies and inform instruction and remediation needs in order to ensure that all students achieve proficiency at the earliest date possible.

Sets forth parameters for the 2020-21 school year reporting requirements. Establishes that reading proficiency accountability reporting described in GS 115C-83.10 is not required based on the 2019-20 school year. Instead, requires local boards to report to the State Board specified information by September 1, 2020, including the number and percentage of students on track and not on track to meet year-end expectations based on assessments completed on or after March 13, 2020, at each of the first, second, and third grade levels, and the number and percentage of third grade students retained pursuant to principal authority set forth in the act. Additionally, establishes that reading proficiency reporting requirements established in GS 115C-218.85(b)(4) are not required based on data from the 2019-20 school year. Instead, requires charter schools and other public school units subject to charter school statutory requirements to report specified information to the State Board by September 1, 2020, including the number and percentage of third grade students on track and not on track to meet year-end expectations based on assessments completed on or before March 13, 2020, and the number and percentage of third grade students retained pursuant to charter school authority set forth in the act. Requires the State Board to compile the information required to be reported under these provisions and submit a State-level summary of each component by local school administrative unit and charter school to the specified NCGA committee by October 15, 2020.

Establishes that the provisions of GS 115C-81.36(a1) and (b) concerning advanced math placement for grades three through five and six and higher do not apply for the 2020-21 school year based on the data for the 2019-20 school year. Provides that 2020-21 math placement may be determined based on local board policy in consultation with the student’s 2019-20 school year math teacher. For purposes of reporting on eligibility and placement in advanced math pursuant to GS 115C-81.36(c), requires DPI to submit its December 15, 2020, report to the specified NCGA committee on the number of students who were enrolled in advanced math courses or given other advanced learning opportunities for the 2020-21 school year. Requires the report to include information on the type and format of advanced math courses or advanced learning opportunities provided and include any feedback provided by local boards of education on the implementation of GS 115C-81.36.

Allows for any student in grade 12 who has not satisfied the requirement for completion of CPR instruction to be eligible for graduation if CPR instruction cannot be completed due to the COVID-19 emergency, as defined by the act, and the student is eligible to graduate in all other respects as determined by the student’s principal.

Mandates all public school units to provide remote instruction for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year and provides that a public school unit that provides remote instruction is deemed to have satisfied the instructional time requirements under specified state law for the 2019-20 school year. Defines remote instruction.

Waives attendance enforcement requirements under GS 115C-378 for the 2019-20 school year during the school closure period, as defined.

Directs the governing body of each public school unit to develop a Remote Instruction Plan (Plan) for the 2020-21 school year and submit its Plan to the State Board by June 30, 2020. Details 13 specifications Plans must address, including (1) training for teachers and staff, (2) surveying student and teacher home connectivity and providing for remote instruction appropriate for those with limited connectivity capability, (3) teaching and practice opportunities for students on accessing and using remote instruction platforms and methods, (4) communicating learning targets to students on each remote instruction day with lesson design to demonstrate learning, (5) tracking and reporting attendance on remote instruction days, (6) providing online and offline contact options for student-teacher or staff communication, and (7) providing technology support for students.

Provides that the calendar requirements of GS 115C-84.2 apply to the 2020-21 school calendar for local school administrative units. Establishes that the provisions of the act supersede any school calendar adopted by a public school unit prior to the act’s enactment. Sets forth parameters applicable to the 2020-21 school year for public school units as follows. Mandates that each public school unit adopt a calendar that includes 190 days of instruction with 185 days or 1,025 hours of instruction, five individually separate and distinct full instructional days, and five remote instruction days in accordance with the Plan. Requires adoption of a school calendar that includes an opening date for students of August 17, 2020, a closing date for students no later than June 11, 2020, and no remote instruction days prior to August 24, 2020. Allows for remote instruction days to be scheduled for use as teacher workdays. Provides for waiver of the opening date requirement for good cause so long as the opening date is not before August 17, 2020, and allows use of an additional five remote instruction days as make-up days for closure due to inclement weather or other emergency situations. Allows for additional remote instruction days, provided in accordance with the Plan, to satisfy instructional time requirements if a state of emergency or disaster is declared under GS Chapter 166A ordering school closure for more than five days.

Requires the State Board to report to the specified NCGA committee by September 15, 2020, on the implementation of Remote Instruction Plans. Requires the report to include copies of each Plan submitted and a statewide summary with five specified components and any other data deemed by the State Board to be useful to the committee in evaluating the delivery of statewide remote instruction.

Provides that a school identified as an eligible school in the 2019-20 school year for the principal supplement program under GS 115C-285.1, as enacted by SL 2019-247, continues to be an eligible school in the 2020-21 school year. Makes a technical correction to GS 115C-285.1.

Directs that principals are not required to notify teachers that Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) data has been updated for the 2020-21 school year to reflect teacher performance from the 2019-20 school year.

Provides that for the 2020-21 school year, local school administrative units are not required to provide teacher effectiveness data from the 2019-20 school year to the State Board, and the State Board is not required to include any disaggregated data on teacher effectiveness from the 2019-20 school year in its December 15, 2020, teaching profession report.

Amends GS 115C-299.5(d) to add a subsection heading.

Provides that for the 2019-20 school year, annual teacher evaluations required pursuant to GS 115C-333(a) and GS 115C-333.1, concerning teacher evaluation and observation, must be based on observations completed in the 2019-20 school year prior to the closure period, as defined, and other artifacts and evidence from the 2019-20 school year. Waives the observation requirement for the 2019-20 school year for those not completed prior to the school closure period.

Establishes that nonpublic schools are not required to administer nationally recognized tests or standardized equivalent measurements for the 2019-20 school year nor make, maintain, or make available test results received by their students in the 2019-20 school year.

Establishes that nonpublic schools are not required to make, maintain, and render attendance records of children of compulsory school age during the school closure period, nor operate on a regular schedule at least nine months of the 2019-20 school year.

Waives several testing and reporting requirements mandated in GS 115C-562.5 for nonpublic schools that accept eligible students receiving opportunity scholarship grants for the 2019-20 school year, including required administration of nationally standardized tests to eligible students whose tuition and fees are paid in whole or in part with a scholarship grant in grades three and higher, and the reporting of standardized test performance of eligible students if the nonpublic school enrolls more than 25 students whose tuition and fees are paid in whole or in part with a scholarship grant.

Authorizes the State Education Assistance Authority (Authority) to remit an opportunity scholarship grant awarded to a student for the spring semester of the 2019-20 school year that was unexpended and carried forward due to school closure during the COVID-19 emergency to a nonpublic school on or before October 1, 2020.

Extends the annual reporting deadlines of the Authority regarding opportunity scholarships and disability grants to now require the Authority to report to the specified NCGA committees by November 15, 2020, rather than October 1, 2020.

Sets forth parameters for minimum admission to a recognized Educator Preparation Program (EPP) for the 2020-21 academic year, including waiving certain skills tests, minimum SAT/ACT scores, degree requirements, GPA requirements, and minimum cohort GPA requirements described in GS 115C-269.15.

Sets forth parameters for students enrolled in a recognized EPP to have the clinical internship requirement deemed completed if four specified conditions are met, including that the student has completed as much time in the clinical internship as practicable prior to March 10, 2020, and that the student would be unable to complete the EPP by August 15, 2020, unless the clinical internship is deemed completed pursuant to the provision.

With regards to individuals who have their clinical internship deemed completed pursuant to the act’s provisions, prohibits the State Board from requiring EPPs to require the individuals for the 2019-20 academic year to complete a nationally normed and valid pedagogy assessment to determine clinical practice performance, and from requiring the individuals for the 2019-20 academic year to complete the pedagogy assessment as a condition of EPP completion. Requires the individuals to attempt the pedagogy assessment by the end of their first year of licensure and pass the assessment by the end of their third year of licensure.

Specifies that EPPs are only required to submit information that is practically available in the annual report to the school board under GS 115C-269.35(b) for the 2019-20 school year.

Prohibits the State Board from considering any data that was not practically available related to the 2019-20 school year when assigning sanctions for an EPP under GS 115C-269.45(c).

Requires the State Board to create and submit annual report cards for EPPs pursuant to GS 115C-269.50 by December 15, 2020, to the specified NCGA committee, and include in its report aggregated information on the number and overall percentage of students who were admitted to an EPP with the waived minimum GPA requirement and the number and overall percentage of students who had their clinical internships deemed completed under the provisions of the act. Prohibits making the annual report cards available to the public on the State Board’s website for the 2019-20 school year.

Sets forth parameters for school administrator candidates who are enrolled in a school administrator program to have certain requirements of GS 115C-284(c2) deemed completed for the 2019-20 academic year if the candidates meet the approval standards established by the State Board under GS 115C-284. Provides that the internship requirement is deemed to be completed if four conditions are met, including that the candidate has completed as much time in the year-long internship as practicable prior to March 10, 2020, and that the candidate would be unable to complete the program by August 15, 2020, unless the internship is deemed completed pursuant to the provision. Requires the candidates to complete a portfolio for emerging leaders to demonstrate the application of his or her training to actual school needs and training to the extent practicable prior to completion of the preparation program.

Sets forth parameters for a school leader candidate enrolled in a school leader preparation program receiving a grant to have the clinical practice requirement deemed competed for the 2019-20 academic year if the candidate has completed as much time in the clinical practice as practicable prior to March 10, 2020, and the candidate has engaged in school leader duties as practicable while the school is closed during the school closure period. Prohibits the Authority from retrieving grant funds from a recipient for the 2019-20 school year based solely on a recipient’s failure to require school leader candidates to complete a full-time paid clinical practice as specified in GS 116-209.72(a)(2)e. for the 2019-20 academic year.

Requires the State Board to allow education licensure applicants additional time to meet the examination and course requirements under GS 115C-270.15 and GS 115C-270.20, consistent with four specified parameters. Allows an individual who is in the first year of licensure who has not taken the examination required by the State Board to take the examination during the individual’s second year of licensure. Allows an applicant for a continuing professional license (CPL) whose lateral entry license expires June 30, 2020, including a teacher granted an extension pursuant to Section 1.2 of SL 2019-71, as amended, who has not met the examination and coursework requirements established by the State Board as of March 10, 2020, to be provided an extension until June 30, 2021. Allows an applicant for a CPL whose initial professional license (IPL) expires June 30, 2020, who has not met the examination requirement established by the State Board as of March 10, 2020, to be provided an extension until June 30, 2021. Allows an applicant for a CPL who is an elementary education or special education general curriculum teacher with an IPL or a residency license who was granted an extension until June 30, 2020, under SL 2019-71, as amended, who has not met the examination requirement established by the State Board as of March 10, 2020, to be provided an extension until June 30, 2021.

Additionally, allows any teacher required to have at least eight continuing education credits for continuing licensure by June 30, 2020, until June 30, 2021, to meet the requirements under GS 115C-270.30(b).

Directs the State Board to allow applicants applying for a school administrator licensure who have not met the examination requirements established by the State Board as of March 10, 2020, to be permitted to meet the examination requirement in the first year of licensure, and applicants applying for licensure for a professional position in a public elementary or secondary school who have not met the examination requirements established by the State Board as of March 10, 2020, to be permitted to meet the examination requirements in the first year of licensure.

Additionally, allows any school administrator who is required to meet continuing education credits in high quality, integrated digital teaching and learning for licensure renewal by June 30, 2020, to have until June 30, 2021, to meet the requirements under GS 115C-284(c3).

Provides that a student who is unable to continue participation in a pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship program due to the COVID-19 emergency may continue to be eligible for a tuition waiver for community college courses in the student’s document study plan related to a job-specific occupational or technical skill until December 31, 2020.

Prohibits UNC constituent institutions from accruing or charging interest to any past-due student account between March 13, 2020, and September 15, 2020.

Extends three specified reporting deadlines of the UNC Board of Governors (BOG) to the specified NCGA committee by 60 days, including reporting on teacher education efforts, the supply and demand of school administrators, and the goals for State-operated health professional schools.

Additionally, extends the deadline by which the BOG must submit its annual report on the UNC-NCCCS 2+2 E-Learning Initiative to the specified NCGA committee and state entities from April 15 to June 15, 2020.

Extends the deadline by which the UNC System Office must submit its annual report on the UNC-NCCCS Joint Initiative for Teacher Education and Recruitment to the specified NCGA committee and state entities from April 15 to June 15, 2020.

Requires the $70 million appropriated to DPI in Part III of the act is to be allotted to local school administrative units, charter schools, and the ISD to provide a supplemental summer learning program for students whose learning has been negatively affected by the impacts of COVID-19. Details requirements and restrictions for the supplemental summer learning programs, including that the programs include reading interventions for students in kindergarten through grade three, and grade four, who were not on track to meet the 2019-20 year-end expectations based on diagnostic assessments completed prior to March 16, 2020, or for fourth graders, as identified by their 2019-20 school year reading teachers, and math interventions for students who were in kindergarten through grade four who were not on track to meet the 2019-20 year-end expectation as identified by their 2019-20 school year math teachers. Requires at least $35 million to be used to provide reading interventions for student who were in grades two and three during the 2019-20 school year, with any unexpended funds to be used by December 30, 2020, to provide supplemental literacy support for fourth grade students during the 2020-21 school year who were not on track. Requires any unexpended funds for reading intervention for students in kindergarten, first grade, and fourth grade during the 2019-20 school year and math intervention for students in kindergarten through fourth grade to be used prior to December 1, 2020, to provide supplemental literacy or math support to students in grades one through five during the 2020-21 school year who are not on track to meet the 2020-21 year-end expectations as identified by their respective 2020-21 school year reading or math teachers. Allows funds provided for summer learning programs to be used to deliver interventions and instruction to participating students using methods such as digital resources, printed materials, literacy coaches, and face-to-face instruction.

Requires the governing body of a public school unit receiving funds to consult with the 2019-20 school teachers of kindergarten through fourth grade to develop the learning program plans. Requires plans to comply with executive orders and DHHS guidance. Requires all local school administrative units and the ISD to submit their summer learning program plans to DPI by May 31, 2020. Requires DPI to review the plans and provide feedback as necessary by June 26, 2020.

Specifies that summer learning programs are not to be included in scheduled instructional time for the 2020-21 school year calendar. Encourages public schools receiving funds to identify or prepare resources and strategies for parents or guardians for students that qualify and do not attend or attend and would like additional material. Places the final decision for attendance with the parents or guardians of qualified students.

Directs the State Board to report to the specified NCGA committee on the implementation and use of State funds for summer learning programs by February 15, 2021.

Part VI.

Section 6.1

Defines coronavirus as it is defined in section 506 of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020. Defines coronavirus emergency as March 10, 2020, through the date the Governor signs an executive order rescinding Executive Order No. 116. Defines State agency as an agency or an officer in the executive branch of the government of this state, including the Council of State, the Governor's Office, a board, a commission, a department, a division, a council, and any other unit of government in the executive branch (it excludes the North Carolina Department of Justice, the State Board of Education, and the State Board of Elections). Requires each State agency to review its rules, policies, procedures, enforcement actions, and any other type of agency requirement or action that affects the economic well-being of the citizens and businesses of the state and determine if, due to the impacts of the coronavirus, a waiver, delay, or modification of the agency's requirements or actions would be in the public interest. It it determines that it is in the public interest, requires that agency to adopt emergency rules or take other necessary actions to implement these waivers, delays, and modifications as expeditiously as possible. Provides that if a State agency determines that, due to the impacts of the coronavirus, it is in the public interest, the agency must: (1) delay the collection of, or modify the method of collection of, any fees, fines, or late payments assessed by the agency; (2) delay the renewal dates of permits, licenses, and other similar certifications, registrations, and authorizations; and (3) delay or modify any educational or examination requirements. Requires agencies to report by October 1, 2020, to the specified NCGA committees and commissions and OSBM on its efforts to exercise such regulatory flexibility or an explanation as why it did not do so. Allows agencies to adopt emergency rules to implement this section. Such an emergency rule remains in effect during the pendency of the coronavirus emergency, unless an earlier date is specified by the agency. Effective March 10, 2020, and expires on the earlier of the date the Governor signs an executive order rescinding Executive Order No. 116, or September 1, 2020.

Section 6.2

Requires the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to extend by six months the validity of any credential that expires on or after March 1, 2020, and before August 1, 2020. Defines credential as one of the 19 listed items, including numerous types of drivers licenses, special identification cards, and various types of vehicle plates. The new expiration date is six months from the date the credential otherwise expires. Requires, however, that the subsequent expiration of an extended credential occur on the date prescribed by law prior to this section without regard to the extension. Requires DMV to notify affected individuals of the extension. Requires the waiver of fines, fees, and penalties associated with failing to renew a credential during the period of time the credential is valid by extension. Extends the due dates for motor vehicle taxes that are tied to registration expiration so as to correspond with extended expiration dates. Prohibits convicting a person or finding a person responsible for any offense resulting from failure to renew a credential issued by the DMV if the person shows that the offense occurred during the period of time the credential is valid by extension. Requires DMV to report within 30 days of the extensions to the specified NCGA committee and division on implementation. Effective retroactively to March 1, 2020, and applies to expirations on or after that date. 

Section 6.2A

Prohibits the NC Medical Board and the NC Board of Nursing from enforcing any provision of the Quality Improvement Plan Rules, as defined, to the extent that they (1) require quality improvement process meetings between providers, so long as the provider was practicing within the scope of his or her license prior to February 1, 2020, and continues to practice within that scope while the provisions are effective and (2) require monthly quality improvement process meetings between providers during the first six months of the practice arrangement. Additionally, prohibits the NC Medical Board and the NC Board of Nursing from enforcing any provision of the Quality Improvement Rules or the Application Fee Rules, as defined, to the extent they require an individual to fill out an application or pay a fee, so long as the individual is providing volunteer healthcare services within the scope of his or her license in response to the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency. Finally, prohibits the NC Medical Board and the NC Board of Nursing from enforcing any provision of the Annual Review Rules for practice arrangements, as defined. These provisions expire 60 days after all of the following are rescinded or expired: (1) Executive Order No. 116; (2) the major disaster declaration by the President for this state on March 25, 2020; and (3) a declared nationwide public health emergency as a result of the 2019 novel coronavirus declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services on January 31, 2020.

Section 6.3

Effective retroactively to March 10, 2020, for the period between March 10, 2020, and the date that Executive Order No. 116 is rescinded or expires, and subject to approval by the Board of Trustees, authorizes the State Treasurer to order that State Health Plan members, employing units, or both, adversely affected by this state of emergency have the option to defer premiums or debt payments that are due during this limited time. Allows the State Treasurer to order the expiration of this option prior to the end of the limited time period but it may not extend beyond that period. Sets a 30-day deferral period and specifies that the deferral period can include any state law or contract provision that imposes a time limit on the Plan or a member to perform related to the Plan on or after March 10, 2020, and through the date that Executive Order No. 116 is rescinded or expired. Allows the deferral period to be extended in 30-day increments, subject to Board of Trustees’ approval, but prohibits a deferral period from lasting beyond 90 days from the last day of the state of disaster. Provides for the option to be limited to specific categories of members or employing units. Specifies that the section does not authorize the non-payment of premiums or debt and requires all payments in arrears to be paid. Failure to pay premiums in arrears results in lapse as of the last day of the month for which premiums were paid in full. Provides that members are responsible for all medical expenses incurred since an effective lapse in coverage. 

Section 6.4

Authorizes the Division of Health Benefits (DHB) of DHHS to provide Medicaid coverage described in identified federal law, which covers COVID-19 testing for certain uninsured individuals during the period in which there is a declared nationwide public health emergency as a result of COVID-19, and for which the federal medical assistance percentage is 100%. 

Section 6.4A

Provides that the Medicaid provider rate increases requested in (1) the 1135 Medicaid disaster State Plan amendment (SPA) submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by DHHS on April 8, 2020, and (2) any additional provider rate increases requested in subsequent 1135 Medicaid disaster State Plan amendments are applicable only until the earlier of the expiration of the declared nationwide public health emergency as a result of the 2019 novel coronavirus or January 31, 2021.

Section 6.5

Allows the second examination of a respondent to determine whether the respondent will be involuntarily committed due to mental illness or due to substance use disorder to be conducted either in the physical face-to-face presence of a physician or using telehealth equipment and procedures, if the specified conditions are met. Defines telehealth as the use of two-way real-time interacting audio and video where the respondent and commitment examiner can hear and see each other. Sets the required conditions as the following. In the case of involuntary commitment due to mental illness, the physician using telehealth must be satisfied to a reasonable medical certainty that the necessary determinations would not be different if the exam had been done in the physical presence of the examining physician. Requires a physician not so satisfied to note that the exam was not satisfactorily accomplished, and requires the respondent to be taken for a face-to-face exam. In the case of involuntary commitment due to substance use disorder, requires the physician using telehealth to be satisfied to a reasonable medical certainty that the necessary determinations would not be different if the exam had been done in the physical presence of the commitment examiner. Requires an examining physician who is not so satisfied to note that the exam was not satisfactorily accomplished, and requires the respondent to be taken for a face-to-face exam. Expires on the date the Governor rescinds Executive Order No. 116. 

Section 6.6

Enacts new Article 1L, Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act, in GS Chapter 90. Provides for the Article’s short title and purpose, and sets forth nine defined terms. Grants civil immunity to any health care facility, health care provider, or entity that holds legal responsibility for the acts or omission of a health care provider for any harm or damages alleged to have been sustained as a result of an act or omission in the course of arranging for or providing health care services, as defined. Conditions the immunity granted on three conditions: (1) that the health care facility, health care provider, or entity is arranging for or providing health care services during the period of the COVID-19 emergency declaration, including, pursuant to a COVID-19 emergency rule (as defined); (2) the arrangement or provision of health care services is impacted by (a) a health care facility, health care provider, or entity's decisions or activities in response to or as a result of the pandemic; or (b) the decisions or activities, in response to or as a result of the pandemic, of a health care facility or entity where a health care provider provides health care services; and (3) the arrangement for or the provision of health care services is made in good faith. Limits the described immunity to exclude acts or omissions that constitute gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm; specifies that acts or omissions resulting from a resource or staffing shortage are not willful, intentional, or the like. Provides for similar immunity provisions for volunteer organizations, as defined. Includes a severability clause. Applies retroactively to all acts or omissions during the time of Executive Order No. 116 issued on March 10, 2020, and any subsequent time period during which a state of emergency is declared to be in effect during the calendar year 2020 by the Governor in response to COVID-19. 

Section 6.7

Directs the NC Lottery Commission to submit a report relating to COVID-19 and associated economic impacts to the specified NCGA committee and division on or before September 1, 2020. Details five required components of the report, including the impact of sales of lottery games, the impact of revenues, and the impact on retailers.

Section 6.8

Amends GS 159-33.1 to require the finance officer of each local government unit and public authority to submit to the secretary of the Local Government Commission (Commission) a statement of financial information, as specified, concerning the impact of COVID-19 by January 1, 2021. Requires the Commission to use the information to identify units and public authorities that require assistance similar to that provided on the Unit Assistance List compiled by the Commission. Expires on January 1, 2021. Directs the Commission to report to the specified NCGA committee and division by February 15, 2021, on the information provided and any recommendations. Expires on February 15, 2021.

Section 6.9

Specifies that any report required by law to be submitted to an NCGA joint legislative oversight committee after March 10, 2020, but before July 15, 2020, will be held in abeyance until July 15, 2020. Requires such reports to be submitted thereafter.

Section 6.10

Directs OSBM to release the $700,000 allocation authorized in Section 26.2(c)(3) of SL 2017-57, which provides for the amount to be allocated to the NC Symphony upon certain non-State fund fundraising requirements having been met.

Section 6.11

Amends Section 1.1 of SL 2019-192 to increase the schedule of appropriations from federal block grant funds made for the 2019-20 fiscal year for child care and development, from $347,525,572 to $395,525,572.

Section 6.12

Enacts new GS 10B-25 to allow a notary to perform an emergency video notarization using video conference technology if the requirements of the statute are met (new GS 10B-25 does not apply to any notarization under Article 20 of GS Chapter 163, addressing absentee ballots). Specifies that a notary not satisfied that the principal’s identify has been proven by satisfactory evidence is not required to complete an emergency video notarization. Provides that an emergency video notarization does not change any originality verification requirements for recording with a Register of Deeds, Clerk of Superior Court, or other government or private office in this State.

Specifies that video conference technology is electronic communication that: (1) occurs in real time; (2) allows direct interaction between the principal seeking the notary's services and the notary so that each can communicate simultaneously by sight and sound through an electronic device or process; (3) includes audio with sound clear enough that each participant in the notarial act can hear and understand all other participants; (4) has sufficient quality to allow a clear and unobstructed visual observation of each participant’s face and any identification provided by the principal for a sufficient time to allow the notary to determine if it is satisfactory evidence; (5) is not pre-recorded video or audio or both; and (6) may be capable of recording (a) the video conference technology's recording and storage services, (b) an independent video recording device, or (c) electronically saved screen shots clearly showing each participant's face, identification presented by the principal, and the notarized document.

Provides that the requirement of personal appearance, appear in person before a notary, physical presence, and presence are satisfied for emergency video notarization purposes if (1) notary is physically present in North Carolina, (2) the principal verifies to the notary that he or she is physically present in the state at the time of the notarization, (3) the notary identifies the county where he or she is located at the time of the notarial act, and (4) the principal and notary use video conference technology that complies with the requirements in this statute.

Allows a notary with personal knowledge of a principal to rely on the video conference technology to verify the principal’s identity unless the notary requires satisfactory evidence. Requires a notary who does not have personal knowledge of a principal to require satisfactory evidence of the principal’s identity; sets out requirements for documents that are used as satisfactory evidence.

Sets out the process for signing the document to be notarized. Sets out the procedure for submitting the signed document to the notary and for the notary notarizing the document, with procedures varying according to whether or not an original wet-signed notarization on an original wet-signed document is required.

Requires that a notary administer an oath or affirmation using video conference technology. Sets out the items that must be included in an acknowledgement or jurat certificate for an emergency video notarization, including a specified statement.

Requires a notary performing an emergency video notarization to record information about the notarization in a notary journal that is to be retained by the notary for at least 10 years; allows the journal to be maintained electronically. Specifies nine pieces of information that, at a minimum, must be recorded in the journal for each emergency video notarization. Allows a third party involved in an emergency video notarization transaction to require additional information to be included in the journal.

Requires a notary to maintain the confidentiality of a principal’s documents at all times. Allows for the issuance of interpretive guidance or emergency or temporary rules to assure the integrity of the emergency video notarization measures.

Sets the statute to expire at 12:01 a.m. on August 1, 2020; however, specifies that all notarial acts made in accordance with the statute and while the statute is in effect remain effective and do not need to be reaffirmed.

Makes a conforming change to GS 10B-3 by adding and defining the term emergency video notarization. Specifies that emergency video notarization must not include a verification of proof.

Amends GS 10B-10 to provide that if the North Carolina Secretary of State grants a notary commission after March 9, 2020, and before October 1, 2020, the appointee has 90 days (instead of the usual 45 days) to appear and take the oath of office. Allows the oath to be administered using video conference technology, as specified. Makes conforming changes.

Section 6.13

Enacts new Article 3, Video Witnessing During State of Emergency, in GS Chapter 10B, applicable to the witnessing and signature of all records signed on or after the effective date of this act; sets the Article to expire upon termination of the State of Emergency declared in Executive Order No. 116, on March 10, 2020, as extended by any subsequent executive order. Specifies that no action described in the Article (1) constitutes a notarial act and (2) is governed by Article 1 (Notary Public Act) or Article 2 (Electronic Notary Act).

Provides that any person who witnesses the signature of a record through videoconference technology is considered to be an "in-person" witness and the record is considered to have been signed by the principal signer "in the presence of" such witness, provided that the video conference technology allows for direct, real-time audio and video interaction between each principal signer and the witness. Considers an attesting witness to a record to have signed the record in the presence of the principal signer, if: (1) the signature of the principal signer is witnessed by the attesting witness in accordance with the requirements the statute and (2) the attesting witness immediately thereafter signs the record while the video conference technology still allows for direct, real-time audio and video interaction between the principal signer and the attesting witness. Sets out information that must be included in a record witnessed under the statute. Allows any record witnessed under this Article to be signed in counterpart.

Section 6.14

Enacts new GS 32A-16.1 to waive the requirement that a health care power of attorney be executed in the presence of two qualified witnesses for all instruments executed on or after the effective date of this section and prior to termination of the State of Emergency declared by Governor Cooper in Executive Order No. 116, on March 10, 2020, as may be extended by any subsequent Executive Order, such that an instrument signed by the principal, properly acknowledged before a notary public, and otherwise executed in compliance with the provisions of this Article, governing health care powers of attorney, are not invalidated by the principal's failure to execute the health care power of attorney in the presence of two qualified witnesses. Requires health care powers of attorney executed during this time without two qualified witnesses to contain a statement indicating that the instrument was executed in accordance with this statute. Expires at 12:01 a.m. on August 1, 2020, but all instruments made in accordance with the statute and while the statute is in effect remain effective and do not need to be reaffirmed.

Makes conforming changes to GS 32A-16.

Enacts GS 90-321.1 enacting the same waiver of the witness requirement as above, applicable to advance directives for a natural death declaration. Sets this statute to expire at 12:01 a.m. on August 1, 2020.

Makes conforming changes to G.S. 90-321.

Section 6.15

Enacts new GS 45A-4.1 allowing real estate transactions involving one-to-four family residential dwellings or a lot restricted to residential use, a settlement agent to disburse closing funds before recording the deeds, deeds of trust, and any other required loan documents with the register of deeds.

Sets out the following requirements to be met in order to allow the disbursement of closing funds before recordation: (1) on the date of closing, the office of the register of deeds where the deeds, deeds of trust, and any other required loan documents are to be recorded, is located within the emergency area, closed to the public as a result of the declaration of emergency, and unable to accept documents for recording by any method; (2) the lender's closing instructions authorize disbursement of closing funds prior to recording; (3) all parties agree in writing to all the following: (a) to waive the requirement that the settlement agent not disburse closing funds until the deeds, deeds of trust, and any other required loan documents are recorded in the office of the register of deeds and the required closing funds be disbursed only upon collected funds excepted as provided; (b) that they acknowledge that the recordation date may not be known on the date of closing and the date of recordation by the settlement agent is governed by this statute; (c) that they are aware of the risks and implications of proceeding with disbursement of closing funds and, if applicable, transfer of possession of property prior to recordation; (d) that after disbursement of closing funds and prior to recordation no party to the transaction will take any action to impair the quality of the title in law or equity; and (e) any other terms the parties or the closing instructions require as a condition of disbursement of closing funds prior to recording; and (4) the settlement agent complies with all conditions of the closing instructions, procures a commitment of title insurance providing for title insurance that includes indemnity coverage for the gap period, and updates the applicable title from the date of the preliminary title opinion to the time of disbursement using those public records reasonably available to the settlement agent on the date of disbursement.

Requires in all transactions under this statute in which funds are disbursed prior to recordation, the settlement agent must hold in a fiduciary capacity until the time provided below, all deeds, deeds of trust, and any other required loan documents that are to be recorded.

Terminates the authority under this statute for the settlement agent to disburse closing proceeds prior to recordation of the deeds, deeds of trust, and any other required loan documents on the earlier of the date the office of the register of deeds reopens for public business or begins to accept documents for electronic recording. Requires within three business days of this time frame, that the settlement agent record all deeds, deeds of trust, and any other required loan documents being held under the statute and immediately notify all parties that the documents have been recorded.

Section 6.16

Amends GS 51-8 to allow a register of deeds, throughout the duration of any declaration of emergency, to issue a license for marriage through remote audio-video communication if the register of deeds can positively identify each applicant.

Amends GS 51-16 by extending the validity of a marriage license from 60 to 120 days.

Applies to marriage licenses issued on or after March 10, 2020, and expires August 1, 2020, and makes any marriage license issued on or before that date valid for 120 days.

Section 6.17

Specifies that the Secretary of Revenue (Secretary) will not assess a penalty for failure to file a tax return or pay a tax due if returned or paid by July 15, 2020, as the Secretary has extended the franchise, corporate, and individual income tax payment deadline to July 15, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Directs the Secretary to also waive the accrual of interest from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, on an underpayment of tax, including partnership and estate and trust tax returns, due during that period. Clarifies that the relief from interest accrual during the stated period also applies to interest imposed under GS 105-163.15 (concerning installments and interest for unpaid individual income tax) and GS 105-163.41 (concerning installments and interest for unpaid corporate income tax).

Extends the statute of limitations for obtaining a refund for franchise, corporate, and individual income tax to July 15, 2020, for refund claims for which the statute of limitations to seek a refund expires on or after April 15, 2020, and before July 15, 2020.

Makes certain actions that are required to be taken by a taxpayer on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, considered timely if taken on or before July 15, 2020. Actions include requests for the Department of Revenue to review a proposed denial of a refund or a proposed assessment under GS 105-241.11, petitions for a contested case hearing on a final determination at the Office of Administrative Hearings under Article 3 of GS Chapter 150B and GS 105-241.15, and petitions for judicial review of a decision after a contested case hearing under Article 4 of GS Chapter 150B and GS 105-241.16.

Section 6.18

Enacts GS 96-14.15, making unemployment benefits payable in four specified circumstances in response to the coronavirus emergency. Defines coronavirus by referencing the term’s definition stated in the federal Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020. Payable circumstances under the act include: (1) when an employer temporarily ceases operations due to the coronavirus thereby preventing the individual from going to work; (2) when an employer reduces the hours of employment due to the coronavirus; (3) when an individual has a current coronavirus diagnosis; or (4) when an individual is quarantined at the instruction of a health care provider or a local, state, or federal official. Makes the Chapter’s employment security provisions applicable to the new coronavirus emergency unemployment benefits, with five exceptions, including: (1) no waiting week applies; (2) work search requirements do not apply; (3) benefits paid are not charged to the account of any base period employer of the individual; and (4) employers may file an attached claim for benefits, as specified. Provides for an employer tax credit for contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for contributions due for the calendar year 2020, equal to the amount of contributions payable on the report due on or before April 30, 2020. Provides for instances in which employers have remitted the contributions payable on the report due on or before April 30, 2020. Limits the scope of the act to include only unemployment benefits filed for periods beginning on or after March 10, 2020, through those filed for periods beginning on or after the earlier of either the date the Governor signs an Executive Order rescinding Executive Order 116 (Declaration of a State of Emergency to Coordinate Response and Protective Actions to Prevent the Spread of Covid-19), or December 31, 2020.

Section 6.19

Allows for individuals to meet the reporting requirements of GS 96-14.9 (weekly certification) by phone or Internet for the period defined by new GS 96-14.15.

Section 6.20

Amends GS 96-14.9, concerning the requirement for an individual seeking unemployment benefits to be actively seeking work. Current law requires the individual to have made at least three job contacts with potential employers during the week, among other criteria. Allows an individual to satisfy one of the weekly job contacts by attending a reemployment activity offered by a local career center. Requires the Division of Employment Security to verify the suitability of the activity for credit and the claimant’s attendance at the activity. Effective July 1, 2020.

Amends GS 96-15 to authorize employers to file unemployment claims for employees if unemployment is due directly to a disaster covered by a federal disaster declaration. 

Amends GS 105-356 to clarify that priority liens for State taxes on real property under the Revenue Act include a lien for unpaid employer contributions under GS 96-10.

Section 6.21

Repeals GS 120-70.158, which sunsets Article 12R, establishing the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance, on July 1, 2023.

Section 6.22

Effective August 1, 2020, through December 1, 2020, sets the weekly benefit amount for an individual who is totally unemployed at an amount equal to the wages paid to the individual in the highest paid completed quarter of the individual’s base period divided by 52, rounded up to the next lower whole dollar.

Section 6.23

Amends GS 96-14.2, effective August 1, 2020, to increase the weekly benefit cap for unemployment at $400 from $350.

Section 6.24

Enacts GS 166A-19.24 to authorize any public body to conduct remote meetings upon a gubernatorial or legislative declaration of emergency under GS 166A-19.20. Limits the authority to public bodies within the emergency area during the declaration and requires compliance with Article 33 of GS Chapter 143, which governs meetings of public bodies.

Details nine requirements remote meetings must meet, including (1) proper notice of the remote meeting and notice of the means of public access; (2) identification of members participating by simultaneous communication for roll call, participation in deliberation, and voting; (3) roll call voting for every vote taken; and (4) simultaneous streaming live online or by conference call with option for public access.

Defines simultaneous communication as any communication by conference telephone, conference video, or other electronic means. Specifies that a member participating by simultaneous communication is present for quorum purposes and voting as if physically present while that communication is maintained for that member.

Allows for a public body to conduct public hearings during a remote meeting and take action thereon so long as written comments are allowed to be submitted between publication of any required notice and 24 hours after the public hearing. Allows for a public body to conduct a quasi-judicial proceeding as a remote meeting if (1) the right of an individual to a hearing and decision occurred during an emergency, (2) all persons subject to the proceeding who have standing to participate have been given notice and consent, and (3) all due process rights of the parties affected are protected.

Allows the public body to conduct closed sessions as authorized by state law.

Clarifies that the statute applies only during emergency declarations and does not supersede any authority for electronic meetings under Article 33C of GS Chapter 143. Makes conforming changes to GS 143-318.10(a), GS 143-318.14A(e), GS 153A-43, GS 160A-74, and GS 160A-75. Amends GS 166A-318.13 to exclude meetings conducted under new GS 166A-19.24 from electronic meetings requirements, except for compliance with subsection (c) prohibiting actions by reference.

Applies throughout the duration of any emergency declaration issued under GS 166A-19.20 in effect on or after the date the act becomes law. Provides a savings clause for the actions of any public body in an open meeting conducted by simultaneous communication between March 10, 2020, and the date the act becomes law. Specifies that new GS 166A-19.24 does not affect SL 2008-111, which amends GS 143-318.13 to authorize electronic meetings.

Section 6.25

Directs OSBM to establish a temporary NC Pandemic Recovery Office (Office), charged with oversight and coordination of funds made available under COVID-19 Recovery Legislation. Additionally requires the Office to provide technical assistance and ensure coordination of federal funds received by State agencies and local governments, and ensure proper reporting and accounting. Terminates the Office and the authorities granted in the act 12 months after the date the act becomes law.

Section 6.26

Details five requirements DHHS must meet in order for OSBM to release the $25 million allocated in the act for expanding public and private initiatives for COVID-19 testing, contract tracing, and trends tracking and analysis. Conditional requirements include DHHS required diagnostic service reporting and posting on the COVID-19 NC Dashboard; DHHS posting testing vendor contract information on its website, including cost per test; DHHS collecting and reporting on its website recovery rates; DHHS reporting COVID-19 related hospital discharges and associated underlying health conditions; and DHHS providing comprehensive reporting on COVID-19 deaths. Requires DHHS and any public or private entity receiving the allocated funds to report on the use of funds to the specified NCGA committees within six months after receipt of funds.

Section 6.27

Enacts Article 48 to GS Chapter 66 to provide civil immunity to an essential business that provides goods or services in the state for any injuries or death alleged to have been caused as a result of a customer or employee contracting COVID-19 while doing business with or while being employed by the essential business; excludes acts or omissions constituting gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm. Sets out defined terms. Defines an essential business as businesses, not-for-profit organizations, education institutions, or governmental entities identified in the COVID-19 Essential Business Executive Order (defined as Executive Order No. 121, issued March 27, 2020, including amendments and extensions). Provides that the term also applies to any business that the Department of Revenue determines to be essential. Specifies that an employee is not precluded from seeking workers’ compensation remedies under GS Chapter 97. Limits the scope of the act to acts or omissions occurring on or after the issuance of the COVID-19 essential business executive order until the COVID-19 emergency declaration (defined as Executive Order No. 116, issued March 10, 2020, including any amendments and extensions) is rescinded. Includes a severability clause and calls for liberal construction of the Article.

Part VI

Clarifies that the act’s headings are for reference only.

Includes a severability clause and standard effective date provision.

© 2020 School of Government The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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