October may have ushered in a bit of cooler weather and colorful leaves, but the month also brought about nearly 50 new laws passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Pat McCrory during a recent legislative session. The new laws cover a wide variety of topics and have implications for all citizens.
Provided and explained by the Associated Press, here’s a look at a few of the most significant or interesting changes:
The waiting before a woman can get an abortion has expanded from 24 hours after receiving required information from a doctor or medical professional to 72 hours. There remains an exception for medical emergencies. The 24-hour waiting period was put into law in 2011. North Carolina is now one of four states with a 72-hour period. Oklahoma joins the other states November 1.
Responding to a series of “undercover videos” about Planned Parenthood, legislators also banned the sale or donation of body parts resulting from an abortion. The new law also prohibits state funding for family planning organizations that provide abortions.
Everyone under 18 is now prohibited from using tanning beds. Children previously had been able to enter the devices with parental permission or a doctor’s written prescription. Lawmakers decided the threat of increased risks for skin cancer outweighed the ability for kids to use the beds.
NATIONAL GUARD & GUNS
North Carolina Guard members will be able to carry concealed weapons while in uniform and on duty. The state’s top guard general will decide which service members can be armed. It was within a measure that also creates a civil legal action for people injured by terrorists or those who fund them.
Backers of a firearms law wanted the pistol permit process through local sheriffs streamlined. The new provisions say permit applications should be provided electronically and that sheriffs should be quick about seeking information about an applicant’s mental health history before deciding whether to grant the permit.
DRIVING TO CHURCH
People who’ve had their driver’s licenses revoked due to past impaired driving or multiple traffic convictions already can get limited driving privileges to go to work, college, or for emergency medical care. Lawmakers have now extended that to attending church or traveling for religious worship.
MOVE OVER LAW
For years, motorists have had to change lanes or slow down when police cruisers or first-responder vehicles with lights flashing are on the roadside. Now add garbage and recycling trucks with flashing lights to the list in the “move over” law.
Three-wheel motorcycles that have steering wheels, enclosed seats, and seat belts that make them look like cars are called “autocycles.” A person now must have a driver’s license to operate one, but doesn’t need a motorcycle endorsement. The vehicles are subject to motorcycle inspection and registration standards.
CATCHING A RIDE
Minimum standards and annual state registration of “transportation network companies” like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar are now the law. These are ride-sharing companies where customers use phone apps to hail drivers and complete cashless transactions.
New rules are designed to give children living with foster parents more normal childhoods. They are expected to remove burdens that prevent foster children from going to sleepovers and attending prom unless approved from social services or a court. The measure also allows the children to buy car insurance so they can drive because family policies do not cover them.
Police and sheriffs’ departments no longer must release numbers of government-issued cellphones assigned to officers or information that could identify their residences. These are not considered public records.
TAKING SOME HOME
People who tour a North Carolina distillery can now buy one bottle of the liquor produced onsite to take home; bypassing local Alcoholic Beverage Control stores where all packaged liquor is sold. Each distillery is limited to selling one bottle to the same person every 12 months.
LETTING YOU KNOW
A local regulatory reform law tells cities and counties it must tell property owners at least 15 days ahead of time before government construction projects begin nearby, with some exceptions.
It should be easier for small food establishments to set up tables and chairs for customers who want to chat while eating biscuits and drinking coffee. These businesses won’t have to meet tougher requirements restaurants must meet on things like sewer capacity.
The General Assembly passed new legislation requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for certain autism treatments for children under 18.
Lawmakers passed legislation to broaden the expert qualifications behind the sex education curricula taught in schools. The approval of a certified sexual health educator is longer required.
All of North Carolina’s primaries, including the presidential primary, will now move to March 15. The move means that candidate filing will begin December 1.
The budget provided new funding for open space preservation, but legislators also passed provisions weakening environmental protections like the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) which required an environmental review of public projects using public funds or public lands. Among other provisions, the renewable energy tax credit was allowed to expire and more artificial, hardened structures were approved.
Legislators approved big changes to the state’s $14 billion Medicaid system. Doctors will no longer be paid for each service they provide; instead, Medicaid will shift to a managed care model.
The changes are complicated and will take as many as four years to fully implement. The bill creates two tiers of insurers: Regional groups that are led by providers and statewide entities that will likely be national, for-profit managed care companies.
Changes will also eliminate the state’s Division of Medical Assistance and shift management of Medicaid to a new Division of Health Benefits within the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Employees in the new division will not be covered under protections provided by the State Personnel Act.
The state has placed a ban on so-called sanctuary cities—places that have either formal or informal policies against enforcing immigration laws. Although no cities in North Carolina identify as sanctuary cities, the bill aims to send the message that local officials should place a priority on enforcing immigration laws and removing undocumented immigrants.
To learn how North Carolina law applies to your unique circumstances, call one of the qualified attorneys at Greene Crow & Smith at (252) 634-9400 or visit nctriallawyyers.com.
(Sources: The Washington Times, Associated Press, North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, North Carolina General Assembly, and Women AdvaNCe.)