NCGA Week in Review: Judicial Branch and Criminal Laws Spotlight

January 8, 2016

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Five legislative committees met this week to discuss several pending issues for the 2016 “Short Session.”

ICYMI, Committee Meetings


On Monday, the Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and Long Term Funding Solutions Committee and its four subcommittees, Ports-Rail,Primary System, Secondary System, and Public Transportation-Aviation, met throughout the day. The full committee reviewed Governor McCrory’s 25 YearVision, and heard presentations on the Logistics of North Carolina’s Transportation Network, the NC State Ports Authority, Strategic TransportationInvestments, and an update on Federal Funding. The committee did not take legislative action at the meeting.

The next meeting of the committee will be Monday, January 25.

Links to committee presentations are below:







On Tuesday, the Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee met to receive updates on several 2015 issues and potential legislation for 2016. TheCommittee heard an overview of the US Supreme Court decision in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission and anupdate on the status of North Carolina State Board of Education v. the State of North Carolina and the North Carolina Rules Review Commission.

The committee also heard a presentation by the Program Evaluation Division (PED) on its study of the potential centralization and oversight of occupationallicensing agencies. PED made several recommendations: 1) that the General Assembly establish an Occupational Licensing Board Commission to improveeffectiveness and resolve board disputes; 2) list all occupational licensing boards under NCGS 93B and define the criteria they must meet to be listed; 3)enact state law for complaint processing requirements; 4) require periodic audits of the occupational licensing boards; 5) direct the AdministrativeProcedure Oversight Committee to determine the scope of the occupational licensing boards’ authority; and 6) direct the newly established OccupationalLicensing Commission (see recommendation 1) to develop a plan to consolidate the 10 PED identified boards.

The committee created a new subcommittee to examine the licensing board issues further. Members include Reps. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), Darren Jackson(D-Wake), and Sarah Stevens (R-Surry), and Sens. Brent Jackson (R-Sampson), Andy Wells (R-Catawba) and Fletcher Hartsell (R-Cabarrus).

The next meeting of the full committee will be Tuesday, February 2.

Links to committee presentations are below:

2015 Licensing Board Submissions Chart

Agenda 1 5 2016 (3)

Implications OF NC Dental Board v

JLAPOC 1-5-16 presentation


Program Evaluation OLA Rpt


The Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy met Tuesday. The commission heard presentations overviewing of the proposed Atlantic Coast PipelineProject and activities related to energy exploration in the Mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. The commission also heard reports by NC Department ofRevenue on the Renewable Energy Safe Harbor, S372 and by the Department of Environmental Quality on the desirability and feasibility of siting,constructing, and operating a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in the State. Finally the commission heard from Duke Energy of the Carolina’s onthe Green Source Rider pilot program and the rate increase effective January 1, 2016. The committee did not take any legislative action.

The next meeting of the commission will be Tuesday, February 2.

Links to the commission’s presentations are below:

McKay – Atlantic Coast Pipeline Update

Kelvington – Energy Exploration in the Mid-Atlantic OCS

Freeman – Safe Harbor Extension for Renewable Energy Property Tax Credit

Bowman – Green Source Rider and Rate Increase

Watson Rate Increase


Thursday, the Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight Committee met to discuss the State’s economic tier system. The committee heard severalpresentations by the NC General Assembly’s Research Division, Program Evaluation Division (PED) and Commerce Department. PED recommended repealing thestate’s tier system by 2018 and the creation of a task force to study what model the state to replace it with. The Commerce Department also recommended therepeal of the current tier system, but recommended it be replaced with an indexing system that would rank, not tier, all NC counties. Both PED and Commerceagree that the current tier system is not effective. The tier system is used by about 15 programs, both economic and non-economic. The presentationsrevealed that Tier 2 counties benefit most from these programs, with less than 24% of program funding going to the “poorer” Tier 1 counties. The committeedid not take any legislative action and left the discussion open for further review.

The next meeting of the committee will be Thursday, February 4.

Links to the committee’s presentations are below:

Central Staff Recent NCGA Actions re- ED for EDGE

Commerce-Overview of Active Tools Handout.2016.01

Ted Abernathy NCGA EDGE Presentation.2016.01

PED ED Tiers Presentation.2016.01

PED-Tiers Report-Supplemental Handout.2016.01

Commerce EDGE Committee Presentation on Tiers for Printing.2016.01

ARC_Economic Status Designation System_2016.01


Friday morning, the Transportation Oversight Committee met for three hours. The committee heard several presentations on such topics as the impact ofadditional revenues on projects, Division of Motor Vehicles reform and modernization, accelerating highway projects, NC State Ports Authority CapitalImprovement Program, freight rail investment, and the Turnpike Authority’s Annual Report. The committee did not take any legislative action on thepresentations.

The next committee meeting will be Friday, February 5.

Links to the committee’s presentations are below:


A DMV_Reform_01-08-16

B DMV_Reform_01.08.16




TurnpikeAnnual Report_FY2015


Spotlight on the Judicial Branch and Criminal Laws

The following bills became law during 2015:

H97, Appropriations Act of 2015

  • Increased overall funding for the Judicial Branch by about 4%.
  • Increased funding for court operations as well as court interpreters, expert witnesses, and juror fees.
  • Provides reoccurring funding for information technology in the courts system.
  • Grants a statutory one-step increase to Assistant and Deputy clerks and magistrates.
  • Provided funding for additional business court judges.
  • Eliminated three special superior court judges.
  • Requires the Chief Justice to designate at least five superior court judges as business court judges.
  • Transferred the Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS) to the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).
  • Requires the AOC to audit both IDS and the Innocence Inquiry Commission on an annual basis.

H8, Court of Appeals Election Modifications

  • Requires a candidate for Judge of the Court of Appeals to indicate their party affiliation at the time of filing.
  • This law is in effect for the 2016 elections.

H79, Contempt for 50C/Scope of Stay for Appeals

  • Clarifies that a knowing violation of a civil no-contact order is punishable by civil or criminal contempt.
  • Clarifies the scope of stay on proceedings when a case is on appeal, staying all further proceedings in lower courts in matters affected by the judgment appealed.

H173, Omnibus Criminal Law Bill

  • Extends the period of time to avoid the court costs for failure to pay.
  • Directs the AOC to report on certain orders of remand from superior court.
  • Revises the law authorizing a chief district court judge to designate certain magistrates to appoint counsel/authorize magistrates to accept guilty pleas and enter judgment for the offense of intoxicated and disruptive in public.
  • Clarifies probation revocation appeals.
  • Allows expunction information to be transmitted electronically by fax.
  • Makes the doubling of bond permissive rather than mandatory for certain defendants.
  • Allows a certification by the custodian of a business record to show the authenticity of the record in lieu of offering the custodian’s in-person testimony.

H215, Procedure for Waiver of Jury Trial

  • Establishes a procedure for allowing defendants to waive their right to a jury trial in superior court criminal cases.

H222, Retention Elections/Supreme Court

  • Allows a sitting Justice of the Supreme Court who was elected to the office by the voters to indicate their desire to continue in office.
  • If a Justice decides to do so, they will participate in a retention election, instead of filing to run against other candidates, during the general election immediately preceding the expiration of their elected term.
  • This law is in effect for the 2016 elections.

H224, AOC Omnibus Changes

  • Allows clerks of superior court or other custodians to transfer specified unnecessary publications for disposition as surplus state property or as directed by the State Surplus Property Agency.
  • Removes the requirement that the clerk of superior court in each county file with the AOC the names of persons granted conditional discharges under certain statutes.
  • Requires the clerk of superior court to report conditional discharges to the AOC to assist the court in evaluating a defendant’s eligibility for the conditional discharge.
  • Removes the requirement that the specified clerk of the superior court forward the commitment order to the Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission of an individual confined pursuant to a conviction of impaired driving.
  • Clarifies that the court may order supervised probation for any conditional discharge or deferred prosecution.

H284, Civil Contempt/Jury Duty

  • Clarifies that an imposition of a fine is not an allowable sanction for civil contempt.
  • Requires prospective jurors that are taking classes or completing exams as full-time students enrolled at an out-of-state postsecondary institution to be excused from jury service upon request.
  • Requires the AOC to study excusals from jury service, including whether or not excusals should be granted for prospective jurors on work assignment outside of the state.

H383, Clarify Statutory Scheme/Sex Offenders

  • Reorganizes the stator scheme for various sexual offenses.
  • Provides that to be guilty of statutory rape or a sexual offense of a person 15 years old or younger, the defendant must be at least 12 years old. For a Class B1 felony the defendant must be at least six years older than the person, for a Class C felony the defendant must be more than four bust less than six years older than the person.

H792, Privacy/Protection From Revenge Postings

  • Makes the disclosure of certain images in which there is a reasonable expectation of privacy a criminal offense.
  • Makes indecent exposure that occurs on a private premises a criminal offense.

H924, Highway Safety/Other Changes

  • Clarifies when a law enforcement officer is required to request a blood sample when charging an offense of misdemeanor death by vehicle.
  • Clarifies the law governing prohibited use of red and blue lights.
  • Repeals certain mandatory reporting regarding pseudoephedrine products.
  • Clarifies the subpoena authority of the SBI Director.
  • Provides for upset bids for lease of mineral deposits on state lands.
  • Increases the cost on work that can be performed by governmental force account labor.
  • Repeals the donate life matching funds requrment.

S2, Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies

  • Allows magistrates, assistant registers of deeds and deputy registers of deeds to recuse themselves from performing duties related to marriage ceremonies due to sincerely held religious objection.
  • Where the AOC has not designated a magistrate to perform marriages in that jurisdiction, a district court judge designated by the chief district court judge or the chief district court judge is deemed a magistrate for the purposes of performing marriages.

S119, GSC Technical Corrections 2015

  • Requires the signature by hand for reciprocal attorneys’ fees provisions in business contracts, including electronic signatures if the party’s electronic signature originates from an affirmative action on the part of the party to evidence acceptance and execution.

S233, Automatic Expunction/Mistaken Identity

  • Allows the automatic expunction of certain records of a person when the charges against the person are dismissed as a result of identity theft or mistaken identity.

S238, Stalking by GPS/Criminal Offense

  • Makes a person who knowingly installed or placed a tracking device without consent and uses the device to track the location of the individual guilty of committing the offense of cyberstalking.

S596, Protection Against Unconstitutional Foreign Judgments

  • Prohibits a court from recognizing a foreign country judgment if it was obtained by a foreign government entity to compensate for the expenditure of public funds for government programs.

Legislation to Watch For in 2016

Find the NCGA memorandum regarding bills eligible for consideration by the General Assembly during the 2016 short session



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Franklin Freeman
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Bo Heath
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John Merritt
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Kerri Burke
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Sarah Wolfe
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