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  • Should a Local Government Be a HIPAA Hybrid Entity?

    Authored by: on Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

    The federal HIPAA regulations apply directly to certain types of entities and individuals, referred to as “covered entities” and “business associates.” These regulations govern standardization of electronic healthcare transactions and identifiers, as well as the privacy and security of health information. Depending on the services provided and the relationships that exist, a local government may be a covered entity or a business associate that is subject to these federal regulations.

    If a local government concludes that it a HIPAA covered entity, it may want to have only some of its functions, services, or staff members comply with HIPAA. It may want to limit the amount of training and compliance duties, as well as its liability exposure. Can the local government do that? Why, yes! It can. But in order to do so, it must take affirmative steps to designate itself a “hybrid entity.” This post briefly discusses how a local government can determine whether it is a covered entity and explores the concept of hybrid entity designations. It does not provide any discussion of the other substantive requirements of the HIPAA regulations, such as when use and disclosure of protected health information is allowed. We will save those discussions for another time.

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  • Adoptions and Sperm Donors

    Authored by: on Friday, April 24th, 2015

    This post was co-authored by Meredith Smith, Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government, UNC-CH School of Government

    Since our blog post, Same-Sex Marriage and Adoptions of a Minor by a Stepparent, we have received several inquiries about the role of a sperm donor in an adoption proceeding. Although General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Resinger, 12 F. Supp. 3d 790 (W.D.N.C. 2014) and Fisher-Borne v. Smith, 14 F.Supp. 3d 695 (M.D.N.C. 2014) held NC’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, they did not specifically address parentage when a child is conceived or born during a same-sex marriage. And, although artificial reproductive technology has advanced in the last 20 years, the laws in NC have not fully addressed these advances and how they impact parentage. Read more »

  • Allocating Tax Payments

    Authored by: on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

    Suppose Billy Blue Devil owes $2,000 in delinquent taxes for 2012, 2013 and 2014. Billy mails the tax office a check for $500 with no note or instructions about what taxes he is paying. What should the tax office do with that check?

    Cash it, of course. But after that, how should the tax office allocate the $500 among the various taxes Billy owes? This is a very popular question, one that the Machinery Act doesn’t answer.

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  • Are Employees of Seasonal Recreational Establishments Exempt from Overtime?

    Authored by: on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

    Many local governments hire additional employees for the late spring through early fall months. This period sees the opening of municipal and county pools and summer camps, increased activity at parks, golf courses, tennis courts, as well as beaches for communities on the coast or on one of North Carolina’s many lakes, and the need for seasonal workers. Which of these employees will be exempt from overtime under the FLSA’s exemption for employees working at a seasonal amusement or recreational establishment? Read more »

  • Donating Property: Beware of Constitutional Constraints

    Authored by: on Monday, April 13th, 2015

    The old school administration building has been renovated and there is furniture and shelving that can be sold as surplus property. A board member has raised the possibility of donating them to the local arts council. She notes that G.S. 160A-280 authorizes donations to nonprofit organizations. Can the school make this donation? The answer is no. The North Carolina constitution constrains local government authority to make donations. Read more »

  • Errors in Deed Certifications

    Authored by: on Friday, April 10th, 2015

    About 80 counties have the authority under G.S. 161-31 to require a tax certification before recording a deed.  In counties that have opted into this requirement, the registrar of deeds may not record a deed unless the county tax collector first certifies that there are no delinquent property taxes owed on the property being transferred.

    I’ve blogged about the basics of the tax certification process here.  Today I focus on the most popular question I get about this process: what happens if the tax office makes a mistake and certifies a deed for registration without realizing there are delinquent taxes owed on the property?

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  • Proposed Reorganization and Modernization of Planning and Development Regulation Statutes

    Authored by: on Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

    Do planners, developers, neighborhood activists, local officials, and land use lawyers need to get ready for a complete reorganization and modernization of state statutes on local planning and development regulation?  They will if legislation recently introduced in the 2015 session of the General Assembly is adopted.

    House Bill 548, introduced on April 2, 2015, is entitled “AN ACT TO REORGANIZE, CLARIFY, AND MODERNIZE STATUTES REGARDING LOCAL PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT REGULATION.”  It proposes to do just that.

    Where did this bill come from? How was it developed? And just what does it really do? Read more »