Legislators Return for Regular Session this November after Summer Campaigns

Members have returned to their home districts to campaign for the November elections after recommending inflammatory constitutional amendments.

Six Constitutional Amendments
Legislators were in Raleigh for a special session following the traditional Short Session and the outcomes were plentiful.

Six (6) constitutional amendments are being considered for inclusion on this November's ballot. The controversy around these amendments - considered by Democrats as a power grab prior to Republicans possibly losing a majority in the General Assembly - considered by Republicans as part and parcel of legislation are impacting every branch of government.

Printing of absentee ballots are being delayed pending the outcome of two lawsuits challenging the NCGOP's descriptions of the amendments for the ballot, which have been identified as misleading.

In fact, just this week a panel of Superior Court Judges blocked 2 amendments from appearing on November's ballot. Summary of that ruling here .

All living NC Governors - on both sides of the aisle - have made public statements against their inclusion.
Our good friend Kay Castillo with NASW-NC wrote the following constitutional amendment wrap-up for our sister association's members.

Long Leaf Politics also prepared a summary .

Public Policy Focus
In the meantime, we reported last edition that we are preparing for other bills that stalled in short session including Carolina Cares (an act to expand health coverage) and Revise Marijuana Laws .

With a smart prevention focus, we are keeping a close eye on any bill that may propose to legalize marijuana. With Canada becoming the second country (after Uruguay) to legalize marijuana and various states following suit, APNC and the SUD Federation have established a working group to study the impact of legalization and take a position. If you or your agency have a position on cannabis, I'd love to hear from you at klowe@apnc.org
Advocacy 101 and Partnerships

November Election
Members of the legislature are home campaigning for the November Elections which are a mere 10 weeks away.

Here at APNC we are monitoring the races across the 100 counties and will utilize the elections as another avenue for advocacy as we seek commitments from candidates on the issues important to our professionals. More on this in our next issue.

Keep in mind that candidate education fits squarely within the bounds of IRS 501(c)3 status. Nonprofits do not have to stand mute during election season. Participation in candidate education is important so leaders understand the issues.


As you continue in your advocacy goals, remember these actions to be most effective:

  • Remind yourself of our Policy Advocacy Core Values;
  • Take the time to find out who represents you and how to reach them; 
  • Keep up to date on the NCGA legislative calendar here;  
  • The NCGA broadcasts live, real-time audio of the daily House and Senate sessions, press conferences in the Press Conference Room, and meetings held in the Appropriations and Finance Committee Rooms. Click here to listen in;
  • Revisit how bills become law so you know the different methods of advocacy along the way; and
Profile in Advocacy

I'm delighted that Jessica Herrmann, is my Profile in Advocacy this week .  Jessica is the Contracts and Grants Team Leader at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Use Services. She began her career in the field of mental health and substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery 25 years ago. Jessica holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Human Resource Development. She is a recovery ally and has experience working directly with individuals and their families with lived experience and has worked on a macro level to improve quality systems and operations throughout the state of North Carolina. 

1.        Advocate, from Latin advocatus means "one called to aid (another)”. What moves you to aid others in this way?
People in recovery or seeking recovery are often in emotional pain and are vulnerable. It’s incumbent upon all of us to advocate with them and to be an additional voice. Advocacy has two secondary effects as well. It helps reduce and remove stigma and it opens a door for people needing care to approach you with questions and resources.

2.        What’s the single most important character trait that makes an effective advocate?
The single most important character trait that makes an effective advocate is the ability to convey an empathetic view for the condition. Helping people understand that substance use disorder hijacks the brain and is a chronic condition, not unlike diabetes or cancer is important. Would we reject a person seeking help for diabetes because they continue to eat poorly? No, we would not.  

3.        Share with us an advocacy story from your work – one in which you are most proud or where you learned the most.
One of the residential programs funded by DMHDDSAS was training the individuals in their care about recovery messaging (language) and how to tell their story to someone effectively. In addition, they taught them about the “ Recovery Bill of Rights ” by Faces and Voices of Recovery so that they could advocate for better care themselves. I was so proud of this agency and the work they were doing to enhance and improve care. This also meant that the individuals in the residential program could speak out about the care they were receiving at the moment. They became empowered and were learning to advocate for better health and wellness.

4.        When you look back, how will you measure your success as an advocate?
Success will be measured by the removal of stigma to this condition, the reduction of barriers to treatment and non-clinical recovery supports, and by people driving their own treatment and choosing their recovery supports. Stigma causes further shame to a condition that is already plagued by shame. People won’t ask for help if they feel fear and shame. Stigma reduction is demonstrated by how we speak about substance use disorders and those it affects.  Language is important . In addition, we will be successful if we can reduce barriers to care, such as an inability to pay for treatment. Medicaid expansion would be a step towards helping people access care by offering a payment mechanism. Evaluation of communities and a true analysis of what works well for individual communities will be key to creating the right care and supports.

Expanding robust recovery-oriented systems of care within communities is important, but it must be emphasized that this cannot and should not occur without individuals in recovery, their families and allies at the table to drive decisions. Individuals must be able to choose what type of care meets their needs and should be offered a menu of options.  

5.        Tomato-based or vinegar?
I am a vinegar person all the way but appreciate and love those who choose tomato. 

If you have suggested topics for Advocacy 101 or know someone we should feature in Profile in Advocacy , do let me know.

Until next time,

Kathleen Lowe, MSW
Policy & Advocacy Specialist
Partners in Action

Addiction Policy Forum Launches Overdose Reversal Toolkit in Collaboration with University of Waterloo.

Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics transforming opioid addiction treatment access. National Council report highlights how CCBHCs are filling in the gap of treatment.

They are also mapping out their 2019 presentations and have issued a call for presentations.
In the News

California passes bill to allow Safe Injection Sites in San Francisco

CMS announces updates to Medicaid waiver reviews and processes.

Feds Release Parity Enforcement Tools .

NC's Opioid Action Plan would work better with Medicaid expansion .

New Netflix Documentary Recovery Boys explores life in recovery.

Alerts & Calls to Action

Close the Coverage Gap!

North Carolinians must speak with one voice when lawmakers return for regular session. Close the Coverage Gap is our clarion call. Every family experiencing substance use disorder deserves immediate access to adequate and appropriate treatment and recovery support services. Let us repeat: Every family experiencing substance use disorder deserves immediate access to adequate and appropriate treatment and recovery support services! Broadly expanding health insurance coverage will help save more lives and help more people find wellness.

Care4Carolina is an organization working to expand access to quality healthcare. They outline the coverage gap and importance here .
Supported in part through funding from the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services via the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant at the Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration.
APNC, a proud affiliate of NAADAC, represents the interests of over 8,000 licensed and certified prevention, treatment, and recovery professionals throughout North Carolina. Member dues ensure that we are able to continue engaging in deliberate education and vigilant advocacy in our pursuit to empower our professionals to thrive. Consider joining APNC as an individual or organization today. Visit our web site to learn more.