North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

July 8, 2022

Pardon Our Dust

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The General Assembly adjourned the 2022 short session last Friday but left open the opportunity to return to Raleigh once a month through the end of the year. Before adjourning, the legislature adopted over a dozen bills, including the state budget adjustment bill, House Bill 103: 2022 Appropriations Act, and the annual regulatory reform bill, House Bill 911: Regulatory Reform Act of 2022, with bipartisan support. Those bills were presented to Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, but not all have been signed, including both HB 103 and HB 911. During a press conference Wednesday, the Governor said he is taking time to examine the state budget adjustments, noting his option to let the bill become law without his signature. If the Governor does not veto or sign the budget or regulatory reform act by July 11, the bills will automatically become law.

Bill Signings

Governor Cooper signed 11 bills into law this week. The bills make various changes to insurance, alcohol, and environmental policies, as well as to the North Carolina judicial system and private zoos. The following bills were enacted with the Governor’s signature:

Senate Bill 265 – Bond Info Transparency/LGC Toolkit II: Increases transparency of bond referendums by requiring additional disclosures by units of local government and makes changes recommended by the Local Government Commission to strengthen the system used to monitor the financial operations of local government units. Additionally, this legislation will authorize charter schools to participate in the State Treasurer’s ancillary governmental participant investment program.

House Bill 791 – License Counselors Compact/DHHS Contracting: Makes North Carolina a member of the Counseling Compact, an interstate licensure compact for licensed professional counselors. Additionally, the bill changes the process by which the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) enters into contracts with nonprofit grantees who receive state and federal funds. Contracts between nonprofits and DHHS will be required for each year of a biennium that the nonprofit receives funding and would implement measures to ensure continuity of services.

Senate Bill 470 – ABC Technical and Other Changes: Makes technical changes to House Bill 890: ABC Omnibus Legislation that was signed into law in 2021. Some of the major changes include clarifying the rulemaking authority the ABC Commission has surrounding online orders and clarifying that a permit for spirituous liquors does not allow the sale of liquor in closed containers.

House Bill 674 – Require DNA Various Convictions/Other Matters: Clarifies that hospitals or medical offices cannot attempt to bill victims of sexual assault or their insurance companies for forensic medical examinations, leaving it to a special state fund that is already in place to cover the payment. The bill raises the maximum amount that the fund will pay the hospitals and medical offices to perform the exams. The law also expands the number of criminal offenses for which a conviction requires a defendant to provide a DNA sample.

House Bill 211 – Social District/Common Area Clarifications: Follows up on the social district legislation adopted in 2021, which allows towns and counties to legalize consumption of alcoholic beverages in certain geographic districts. This bill makes technical clarifications to the rules governing how a patron takes their drinks on the street.

House Bill 615 – Jordan’s Law: Allows judges to extend domestic violence protective orders temporarily should a hearing to renew the order be scheduled after the current order expires.

House Bill 607 – Various Court Changes: Makes changes to automatic expunctions, clarifies magistrate authority, allows a magistrate eligible for re-nomination to be a resident of a contiguous county in which they serve, and makes other technical changes to the judicial system. A controversial section of the bill was the requirement that the Vice Chair of the Judicial Standards Commission be a Court of Appeals Judge. Senator Britt (R-Robeson) described this bill when introducing the conference report as an omnibus bill requested by the Administrative Offices of the Courts and other judicial offices statewide. Representative Marcia Morey (D-Durham) spoke against the section on the House floor, arguing the board that oversees conduct of judges should not be a judge.

Senate Bill 496 – DOI Omnibus Bill: Makes a series of amendments to various insurance laws, as requested by the Commissioner of Insurance.

Senate Bill 388 – Qualifying Farmer Zoo Sales Tax Exemption: Exempts qualifying farm operators that also operate zoos from paying sales tax for items for the zoo. The bill also creates a new sales tax exemption for certain items purchased by a wildlife manager for related activities.

House Bill 768 – 2022 ABC Omnibus: Makes several changes to how alcoholic beverages are regulated in the state. Many of the changes are technical in nature, like repealing limited winery permits and creating new permits for businesses that package alcoholic beverages from suppliers. Additionally, with the signing of this bill, patrons of standalone bars, known as “private bars,” in North Carolina will no longer have to subscribe to paid memberships to enter the business. One controversial section of the bill would allow distilleries to obtain mixed beverage permits and sell those beverages at the distillery, regardless of the results of any local mixed beverage election.

House Bill 219 – Amend Environmental Laws: Comes at the request of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The main impact of the law affects the disbursement of federal funds for water and wastewater infrastructure projects. Another provision directs DEQ to use State Capital Infrastructure Funds for stream debris removal in targeted river basins.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

There are no legislative meetings scheduled for next week