North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

June 7, 2024

Activity at the North Carolina General Assembly ramped back up this week with a packed committee meeting schedule and both the House and Senate chambers holding voting sessions. While budget negotiations continue behind the scenes, bills in both chambers have started to move through committee, a good sign for lawmakers still hoping for a summer adjournment.

Farm Act

This week, House lawmakers moved forward with the legislature’s annual farm bill. SB 355: North Carolina Farm Act of 2024, which began in the Senate as a bill to clarify the definition of property-hauling vehicles, made its way through the House Committee on Agriculture, the House Committee on Finance, and onto the floor this week, all with bipartisan support, which is often a rarity when it comes to the yearly agricultural-related bill. Several of the provisions included in the 2024 version of the farm act would:

  • Clarify that the terms agriculture, agricultural, and farming include the boarding of horses
  • Direct the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission to study communication lines that fall below minimum height requirements and create a public safety hazard
  • Automatically approve any application for a shellfish lease on which the Department of Environmental Quality fails to act within 365 days after the applicant has accurately submitted all information required
  • Authorize the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) to use the full amount of funds appropriated for Bioenergy Research Initiative on efforts to advance and promote new and emerging crops, and other research initiatives related to agricultural technologies
  • Allow the new proceeds from the sale of timber and other products of land to also be used for capital improvement projects
  • Expand the eligible uses of funds from the swine and dairy assistance program to allow DACS to provide assistance to swine producers to convert existing barn space to sow housing
  • Allow city ordinances to regulate beehives only within the incorporated limits of the city
  • Require local governments that offer a GIS tool to the public to provide a disclaimer notifying the user that the data offered by the tool is provided without warranty and that the user should consult public information sources to verify the data’s accuracy
  • Prohibit local governments from imposing stormwater utility fees for property used for bona fide farm purposes
  • Reenact the conservation tax credit for certain real property donations and modify the purposes for which donated land will qualify for the credit
  • Extend the required time between traveling fairs and county fairs from 30 days to 90 days

SB 355 passed the House unanimously, 93-0, Thursday morning and will now be sent back over to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

House Health

The House Committee on Health held the committee’s first meeting of the short session on Tuesday. There were three bills on the agenda, one being for discussion only.

The discussion only bill, HB 1029: Right To Try Individualized Treatments, would allow eligible patients with life-threatening or severely debilitating illnesses the right to try individualized investigational drugs, biological products, and devices. For a patient to be eligible to participate, an individual would have to have considered all US Food and Drug Administration treatment options, received a recommendation for the individualized treatment by the treating physician, and provide informed consent in writing. The bill would also prohibit a private right of action against manufacturers of individualized investigational drugs, biological products, or devices resulting from use, if the manufacturer or entity made a good-faith effort to comply with applicable provisions and exercised reasonable care. A health benefit plan would not be required to cover an insured’s participation in a clinical trial. HB 1029 will likely be up for a vote when the committee meets next week.

The other bills, HB 1056: PA Licensure Interstate Compact and HB 935: Reorganize & Fund Rare Disease Adv. Council, both passed the Health Committee unanimously Tuesday morning.

HB 1056 would make North Carolina a member of the PA Licensure Compact, which allows physician assistants to practice in any state that is a member of the Compact. As of May 2024, 12 states (Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) had enacted the Compact. The bill was heard in the House Committee on Finance Thursday morning, where it also passed unanimously, and will head next to the House Rules committee before going to the floor for a final vote.

HB 935 would transfer the Advisory Council on Rare Diseases from the UNC School of Medicine to the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill would also revise the membership of the Council such that 15 members would be appointed by the DHHS Secretary and would be required to include two North Carolina licensed physicians, a registered nurse or advanced practice registered nurse, a researcher, a hospital administrator, two adults diagnosed with a rare disease, two adults who are or have been caregivers to a person diagnosed with a rare disease, a representative of a rare disease patient organization, a licensed pharmacist, a representative of the life sciences industry, two representatives of a health benefit plan or insurer, and a genetic counselor. One member would also be appointed by the Governor, one by the House, one by the Senate, and one would be the DHHS Secretary or their designee.

Due to an appropriation to DHHS for the Council’s costs, HB 935 now goes to the House Committee on Appropriations for consideration.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Monday, June 10

11:00 AM House: Session Convenes
3:00 PM Senate: Session Convenes

Tuesday, June 11

9:00 AM House: State Government
10:00 AM House: Local Government
10:00 AM House: Health
11:00 AM House: Pensions and Retirement
11:00 AM Senate: Judiciary
1:00 PM House: Environment
1:00 PM House: Education K-12
2:00 PM House: Families, Children, and Aging Policy
2:00 PM Senate: Finance

Wednesday, June 12

10:00 AM House: Judiciary 2