This week, the North Carolina General Assembly held an administrative session without conducting any official business or casting votes. The full legislative session is poised to resume in late April. In the interim, several key committees are scheduled to meet. Notably, next week will see gatherings of the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Hurricane Response and Recovery, and the House Select Committee on Education Reform. Meanwhile, outside the legislative halls, Democratic Governor Roy Cooper joined President Biden in Raleigh. The President’s visit was marked by the announcement of an $82 million investment, allocated from the American Rescue Plan Act, for the construction of new fiber optic cables across North Carolina, signifying a significant step in technological infrastructure development within the state.
In 2023, the North Carolina General Assembly passed several significant laws that took effect on January 1, 2024. These laws encompass a wide range of topics, including changes to driver’s licensing procedures, local government audit compliance, health services regulations, wastewater management, unclaimed property, retirement systems, adoption and notary rules, guardianship rights, audiology licensure, debt collection practices, online pornography regulation, governmental reform, election law alterations, addiction treatment advertising, and criminal law amendments. Laws that have gone into effect since the start of the new year include:
- HB 8: Various Statutory Changes: A portion of the bill, The Pornography Age Verification Enforcement Act, requires commercial entities to verify the age of individuals accessing pornographic material online, with provisions for civil action against violations.
- HB 125: NC Health & Human Services Workforce Act: Section 12 clarifies licensure and certification processes for audiologists and speech pathologists, outlining specific work and experience requirements for certification.
- HB 181: Unclaimed Property Division Changes.-AB: This law changes the unclaimed property collection process, increasing the charge for personal property affidavits from $30 to $106, with potential waivers for collections under $5,000.
- HB 190: Dept. of Health and Human Services Revisions.-AB: This legislation mandates electronic prescribing for all Schedule V controlled substances, with specific exemptions. It aims to modernize the prescription process in healthcare settings, excluding certain scenarios like technical failures or non-pharmacist practitioners dispensing directly to a user.
- HB 201: Retirement Admin. Changes Act of 2023-AB: This act introduces administrative changes to the retirement systems, removing the requirement of payments to surviving spouses of deceased retirees without designated beneficiaries and shifting the responsibility for disability decisions to the Retirement Systems Division.
- HB 203: DST Technical Corrections.-AB: It makes changes to the retirement systems for teachers and state employees, particularly addressing the financial implications for those who re-employ within six months of retirement.
- HB 415: Stop Addiction Fraud Ethics Act of 2023: The Stop Addiction Fraud Ethics Act prohibits false advertising by addiction treatment facilities and also amends laws regarding earwax removal by audiologists.
- HB 627: On-Site Wastewater Rules Implementation: Focused on on-site wastewater management, this bill introduces detailed rules for wastewater strength, defines accessory dwelling units, and outlines requirements for obtaining wastewater system approval, including the option to use professional engineers or authorized evaluators.
- SB 157: Limited Provisional License Modification: This law modifies the driver’s licensing process in North Carolina. It requires new drivers to hold a learner’s permit for nine months, extending the supervised driving period. After 12 months with a Level 1 permit, drivers can progress to a Level 2 limited provisional license, and eventually to a full provisional license, provided they meet certain criteria, including no traffic tickets and holding a driving eligibility certificate.
- SB 299: Reimburse Late Audit Costs with Sales Tax Rev: Enacted to ensure timely compliance with local government commission audits, this bill allows the state to withhold a portion of sales tax revenue from counties or municipalities that fail to file audits within a specified timeframe after receiving a 30-day notice.
- SB 409: Various Changes to Criminal and Civil Laws: This bill updates various crime definitions and punishments, including provisions regarding the use of automatic license plate readers and the separation of the Office of the State Fire Marshal from the Department of Insurance.
- SB 477: Amend Bus. Corp. Act/Bus. Opp. Disclosures: Section 7 of the Business Corporation Act introduces protections for debtors against abusive practices by collection agencies, including the removal of the requirement to prove actual damages for civil penalties.
- SB 615: Adoption Law/Notary Changes/Guardianship Rts: Encompassing various changes, this bill allows adults to be adopted by former stepparents, modifies notary rules including journal maintenance, and updates guardianship statutes with new definitions of competency and guardians’ responsibilities.
- SB 747: Elections Law Changes: The law introduces comprehensive changes to election laws, including record-keeping, observer rules, and restrictions on donations to election officials.
- SB 749: No Partisan Advantage in Elections: It restructures the North Carolina State Board of Elections, altering the board’s composition and appointment process and impacting the functioning of county boards of elections.
Upcoming Legislative Meetings
Monday, January 22
1:00PM: House Select Committee on Education Reform
Tuesday, January 23
10:00AM: Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Hurricane Response and Recovery
Wednesday, January 24
10:00AM: House Select Committee on Homeowners’ Associations