REGULATORY REFORM ACT OF 2015.

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
House Bill 760 (Public) Filed Tuesday, April 14, 2015
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FURTHER REGULATORY RELIEF TO THE CITIZENS OF NORTH CAROLINA BY PROVIDING FOR VARIOUS ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS, BY ELIMINATING CERTAIN UNNECESSARY OR OUTDATED STATUTES AND REGULATIONS AND MODERNIZING OR SIMPLIFYING CUMBERSOME OR OUTDATED REGULATIONS, AND BY MAKING VARIOUS OTHER STATUTORY CHANGES.
Intro. by Millis, J. Bell, Riddell.

Status: Re-ref to Commerce. If fav, re-ref to Finance (Senate Action) (May 18 2016)
H 760

Bill Summaries:

  • Summary date: May 6 2015 - More information

    House amendments make the following changes to the 2nd edition:

    Amendment #2

    Amends and expands the conditions that must be met by a facility in order for it to be exempt from Swine Waste Management System Performance Standards as promulgated by the Environmental Management Commission, deleting the requirement that all of the necessary permits be obtained before bringing the animals on site and that the permits do not allow a level of production greater than the largest production for which the farm has received a permit in the past. Adds the following six conditions: (1) that the system depopulated after January 1, 2005, and ceased operation no longer than 10 years prior to the current date; (2) that the system was in compliance with individual or general permits issued under GS 143-215.10C prior to the time the system ceased operation; (3) the Division of Water Resources issues an individual permit or certificate of coverage pursuant to GS 143-215.10G for operation before any animals are brought on the facility; (4) that the permit for the animal waste management system does not allow production to the exceed the greatest steady state live weight previously permitted as specified; (5) that no component of the animal waste management system and swine farm can be constructed on land located within the 100-year floodplain as specified; and (6) that the inactive animal waste management system was not closed by using the expenditure of public funds or a settlement agreement, court order, cost share agreement, or grant condition.

    Amendment #3

    Amends GS 143-214.23 concerning the Riparian Buffer Protection Program, adding subsection (a1), providing that this section only applies to riparian buffers required pursuant to an applicable buffer rule as defined in GS 143-214.18. Provides that the provisions of the section do not apply to riparian buffers that are required by (1) an ordinance adopted by a unit of local government as part of a specified Total Maximum Daily Load approved by the US EPA or (2) a condition of a permit issued by the Environmental Management Commission.

    Amends the introductory language for proposed GS 143-214.18, concerning definitions for GS 143, Article 21, Part 1, to provide that the term applicable buffer rule refers to any of the specified rules that are applicable to land within the watershed regulated by the rules (previously stated that it referred to any of the specified rules that are applicable to a tract of land).

    Amends proposed GS 143-214.19 concerning protective riparian buffers for coastal wetlands in the Neuse River Basin or the Tar-Pamlico River Basin, deleting all of the provisions in subsection (b) and replacing them with language that provides that if state law requires a protective riparian buffer for coastal wetlands in the Neuse River Basin or the Tar-Pamlico River Basin, then the protective riparian buffer for any of the coastal wetlands or marshland in the specified basins must be delineated from the normal high water level or the normal water level as appropriate (previously, the coastal wetlands and marshlands were not to be treated as part of the surface waters and were to be included in the measurement of the protective riparian buffer; also specified delineation requirements).

    Amends proposed GS 143-214.27 concerning permissible conditions that can be imposed by the Commission on any permit issued under this Article or for a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) approved by the EPA, providing that the Commission can impose as a condition of a permit issued under he Article or an implementation measure for a TMDL a more restrictive riparian buffer requirement than what is established by the applicable buffer rule or a riparian buffer requirement in a river basin where no riparian buffer standards are established as provided in the subsection (previously, provided that DENR could impose a more restrictive riparian buffer requirement than that established for the river basin within which the activity or facility receiving the permit is located, or a riparian buffer requirement in a river basin where no riparian buffer standards have been established as set forth in this subsection). Also requires the Commission to make a finding that the conditions imposed are necessary in order to meet nutrient reduction goals or to alleviate the impairment for which the TMDL has been approved (previously, required a finding that the condition is necessary in order to meet the nutrient reduction goals for the river basin within which the activity or facility receiving the permit is located). 

    Amendment #4

    Adds a new section to the act, On-site Wastewater Amendments and Clarifications. Amends GS 130A-335 to add that any proposed site for a residence, business, or place of public assembly located in an area not served by an approved wastewater system for which a new system is proposed may be evaluated for soil conditions and site features by a licensed soil scientist. Allows wastewater systems to be approved pursuant to the private option permit criteria in new 130A-336.1 and the rules adopted by the Commission for Public Health (Commission), instead of being regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) under rules adopted by the Commission. Requires the rules adopted by the Commission for approval under the private option permit criteria to be as stringent as the rules for wastewater systems established by the Commission. Adds that the Department may file complaints with the NC Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors and the NC Board of Licensed Soil Scientists.

    Enacts new GS 130A-336.1 allowing a licensed professional engineer to, on behalf of the owner of a proposed wastewater system who wishes to use the private option permit, to prepare drawings, specifications, plans, and reports for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the system. Requires, before constructing, siting, or relocating a wastewater system, when using the private option permit, to submit a notice of intent with the local health department. Specifies items that must be included on the form which is to be developed by the Department, including a copy of the owner’s contract with the professional engineer, liability insurance with a limit of no less than $1 million per claim, and a soils evaluation. Sets out requirements of the professional engineer. Establishes liability that attaches to the licensed soil scientist, the professional engineer, and the owner of the wastewater system. Requires the professional engineer designing the system to establish a written operations and management program, and to hold a postconstruction conference with specified parties that includes startup of the system and any required verification of system design or components. Sets out requirements concerning documentation and recordkeeping. Requires the system operator to give the local health department four items, upon which the local health department must issue the owner a letter of confirmation stating that the documents and information have been received and that the wastewater system may operate. Allows the local health department to assess a fee of up to 10% of the fee for an improvement permit and specifies the allowable uses of the fee. Requires the Commission to adopt rules to conform to the statute. Requires the Department to report to the Environmental Review Commission and the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services annually, beginning January 1, 2017, on the implementation and effectiveness of the statute and specifies information to be included in the initial report.

    Makes conforming changes to GS 130A-338 and GS 130A-339.

    Requires the Commission, in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Service and local health departments, to study the minimum on site wastewater system inspection frequency to evaluate the feasibility and desirability of eliminating duplicative inspections, taking into consideration specified factors. Requires a report to the Environmental Review Commission and the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services by January 1, 2016.

    Amends GS 130A-336 to require the improvement permit and the authorization for wastewater system construction to remain valid without expiration if the design wastewater flow and characteristics and the description of the proposed facility the system will serve remain unchanged. Provides that if a local health department repeatedly fails to issue or deny improvement permits for provisional or innovative systems within 90 days after receiving applications, then Department of Environment and Natural Resources may withhold public health funding from that local health department.

    Amends GS 130A-342 to require a permitted system with a design flow of less than 1,500 gallons per day to be operated by a Grade I Operator and allows the Commission to establish additional standards for a system that has a design flow of 1,500 gallons or greater per day.

    Adds a new section to the act, Amend Approval of On-Site Wastewater Systems.

    Amends GS 130A-343 by amending the definitions of accepted wastewater dispersal system (was, accepted wastewater system), provisional wastewater system (was, controlled demonstration wastewater system), conventional wastewater system, and innovate wastewater system. Deletes the term experimental wastewater system and adds the term nationally recognized certification body. Requires the Commission to adopt rules for the approval and permitting of innovative, conventional, provisional, and accepted wastewater systems (was, experimental, controlled demonstration, innovative, and accepted wastewater systems). Requires notification to the local health department within 30 days of modification or revocation of an approval of a wastewater system or system component. Deletes all provisions concerning experimental systems. Amends the provisions concerning controlled demonstration systems to make the applicable to provisional systems and makes the following changes. Allows a manufacturer of a wastewater system to apply to have the system provisionally approved for use in the state. Requires any system approved based on its approval by a nationally recognized certification body to be designed and installed in a manner consistent with the system evaluated and approved by that body. Requires the proposal to include procedures for obtaining specified information necessary to achieve innovative status upon completion of the provisional status. Requires the applications for provisional systems based on approval by a nationally recognized certification by be approved within 90 days. Specifies the process for applying for innovative system status. Requires the Department to notify the manufacturer to items needed to complete the application or that the application is complete, within 30 days of receiving the application. Requires the Department to approve or deny the application within 90 days (was, 180 days) after receiving a completed application. Makes conforming changes. Provides that a manufacturer of an innovative wastewater dispersal system that has been in general use in the state for a minimum of (was, for more than) five years to petition to have the system designated as an accepted system. Adds specifics to the items that the manufacturer must provide to the Commission concerning prior evaluation of the performance of the system. Allows the Department to initiate a review of a nonproprietary wastewater system and approve the system as a provisional wastewater system or an innovative wastewater system without having received an application from the manufacturer. Deletes the provision requiring warranty in specified circumstances. Makes conforming changes.

    Requires the Commission for Public Health to review and amend its rules to conform to the section.

    Makes this section effective when it becomes law and requires the effective date of any rules amended under the section to be effective no later than June 1, 2016.

    Requires the Commission for Public Health, in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services and local health departments, to study the costs and benefits of requiring treatment standards greater than those listed by nationally recognized standards and report to the Environmental Review Commission and the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services on or before January 1, 2016. 

    Amendment #5

    Amendment #5 amends Amendment #1, deleting language that previously provided for the repeal of GS 105-275(45), which provided a property tax exclusion for solar energy systems.  

    Amends GS 62-3(27a) concerning the definition for small power producer, providing that for the purposes of that section renewable resources, in addition to including hydroelectric power, also means solar electric, solar thermal, wind, geothermal, ocean current, wave energy resources, and biomass derived from agricultural waste, animal waste, wood waste, spent pulping liquors, combustible residues, liquids, or gases not derived from fossil fuel, energy crops, or landfill methane. Effective January 1, 2017, applying to facilities that have applied for a certificate of public convenience and necessity on or after that date.

    Amends GS 62-156(b)(1) concerning terms of contracts for power sales by small power producers to public utilities, adding language that provides that the Utilities Commission can require public utilities to provide standard contracts to small power facilities which generate electricity from swine and/or poultry waste that has a capacity of no greater than five megawatts. Provides that the Utilities Commission can require electric public utilities to provide standard contracts for small power producers that have a capacity no greater than 100 kilowatts that generate electricity from all other renewable energy resources. Enacts new subsection (b)(5), providing that contracts cannot require payment for capacity when the utility lacks a capacity need. Effective January 1, 2017, applying to facilities that have applied for a certificate of public convenience and necessity on or after that date.

    Amendment #8

    Amends proposed language in GS 153A-32, 153A-356, 160A-412, and 160A-416, all concerning duties and responsibilities of municipal and county inspection departments, replacing references to the NC State Building Code, with language that refers to the NC State Building Code and the NC Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings. Makes a technical correction in GS 160A-412, replacing "county" with "city."

    Amendment #11

    Adds representatives of the surveying industry to the broad group of stakeholders to be engaged by the Department of Insurance, the Building Code Council, and the Coastal Resources Commission in their joint study of how flood elevations and building heights for structures are established and measured in the coastal region of the state.

    Amendment #12

    Makes clarifying changes to GS 113-136(k) regarding the authority of law enforcement officers, protectors, and inspectors to inspect weapons, equipment, fish, or wildlife. Makes it unlawful to refuse to allow law enforcement officers, protectors, and inspectors to inspect weapons or equipment if the enforcement officials reasonably believes the items are possessed incident to an activity that is regulated by law or have a reasonable suspicion that a violation has been committed. Provides an exception, permitting an officer to inspect a shotgun without a reasonable suspicion that a violation has been committed, in order to confirm whether the shotgun is plugged or unplugged.  Clarifies that it is unlawful to refuse to permit law enforcement officers, protectors, and inspectors to inspect fish or wildlife for the purpose of determining compliance with bag limits and size limits. Specifies that except as authorized by GS 113-137, this section does not confer authority on law enforcement officers, protectors, and inspectors to inspect the following items in the absences of an individual in apparent control of the item to be inspected: (1) weapons; (2) equipment, except that left unattended in the normal operation of equipment, including but not limited to traps, trot lines, crab pots, and fox pens; (3) fish; and (4) wildlife.

    Deletes provision that required the Wildlife Resources Commission to study to what extent reasonable suspicion that a violation has been committed should be required before a wildlife protector, marine fisheries inspector, or other law enforcement officer may inspect weapons, equipment, fish, or wildlife under GS 113-136(k).


  • Summary date: Apr 29 2015 - More information

    House amendment makes the following changes to the 2nd edition.

    Deletes changes to GS 62-3(27a), which expanded the meaning of renewable resources for the purposes of this section.

    Deletes changes to GS 62-156 regarding power sales by small power producers to public utilities.

    Provides updated Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards (REPS) for electric public utilities, amending GS 62-133.8(b)(1) to require each electric public utility in the state to be subject to a REPS according to the schedule determined for calendar year 2015. Sets the REPS requirement at 6% of 2014 North Carolina retail sales for 2015 and thereafter, and deletes the increases scheduled for 2018, 2021, and thereafter. Amends GS 62-133.8(c)(1) to apply the same requirements to REPS for electric membership corporations and municipalities.

    Deletes requirement that the Energy Policy Council study the costs and benefits to the electrical grid of distributed generations and report to the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations and the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

    Repeals GS 105-275(45), which provided a property tax exclusion for solar energy systems. Effective for taxable years beginning on or after July 1, 2015.

    Amends GS 62-133.8(b)(2)c to provide that an electric utility subject to the provisions of this subsection may meet up to 50% (was, up to 25%) of the requirements of this section through savings due to implementing energy efficiency measures. Effective July 1, 2015.

    Deletes Section 3B.2.(b) regarding recovery of incremental costs incurred by an electric power supplier prior to July 1, 2015. Provides that incremental costs incurred by an electric power supplier prior to July 1, 2015, in complying with any requirement repealed or amended by this Part may be recovered as provided in GS 62-133.8(h), as amended by this Part. Identifies costs that may be recovered under this act.

    Creates the 12-member Joint Select Committee on the Long Term Energy Needs of the State. Provides that six members are to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and that six members are to be appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, with vacancies to be filled by the appointing authority. Provides additional specifications regarding the operation of the Committee. Directs the Committee to study reforms to the REPS requirements under GS 62-133.8 and any other matter related to the long-term energy needs of the state the Committee deems appropriate.


  • Summary date: Apr 27 2015 - More information

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition.

    Part I.

    Further amends GS 130A-248(c1) to allow pushcarts or mobile food units that are based from a permitted commissary or restaurant located on the premises of a facility containing at least 3,000 permanent seats to prepare and serve food on the premises. Sets out requirements to be met for the preparation of raw meat, poultry and fish, and other sanitation requirements. 

    Adds a new section amending GS 97-2, to exclude from definition of employee under the Workers' Compensation Act, any person performing voluntary service for a nonprofit subject to GS Chapters 47A Unit Ownership, 47C North Carolina Condominium Act, 47F North Carolina Planned Community Act, 55A North Carolina Nonprofit Corporation Act, or 59B Uniform Unincorporated Nonprofit Association Act, or exempt from federal income tax, as long as the person does not receive remuneration for the service.

    Adds a new section enacting new GS 98B-8.2 prohibiting an occupational licensing board from contracting with or employing a person licensed by the board to serve an an investigator or inspector if the licensee is practicing in the profession or occupation the board has jurisdiction over. 

    Part II.

    Adds a new section amending GS 160A-272 to allow a city council to approve a lease for the siting an operation of communications towers, facilities or equipment, for up to 25 years without treating the lease as a sale of property and without giving notice by publication.

    Adds a new section creating 16 member North Carolina Government-Nonprofit Contracting Task Force (Task Force) to study state governance of departmental operations and contracts and to streamline policies and practices that impeded the effective and efficient delivery of public services through State grants and contracts to private nonprofits. Sets out the membership requirements for the 13 voting and three non-voting, ex officio Task Force members. Sets out other provisions governing the Task Force's operations. Sets out further Task Force duties and establishes five issues that must be considered in the study. Requires the Task Force to submit a preliminary report to the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations by September 30, 2016, including specified information. Requires a final report to the same Commission by January 31, 2017. Effective July 1, 2015.

    Adds a new section amending the Underground Damage Prevention Review Board (Board) as follows. Sets Board member terms at four years, and limits members to no more than two consecutive terms. Prohibits Board members from serving on a case where there would be a conflict of interest. Allows members to be removed by the Governor for cause. Establishes that eight members constitute a quorum, requires the Governor to designate a member as chair, and allows the Board to adopt rules. No longer requires the Board to meet quarterly. Removes language requiring the Board to act as an arbitrator between the parties. Requires the Board to review all reports of alleged violations and determine the appropriate action or penalty when the Board determines that a violation has occurred. Allows actions and penalties to include training, education and a maximum civil penalty of $2,500. Allows a person determined by the Board to have violated the Article to appeal the Board's determination by initiating an arbitration proceeding before the Utilities Commission (Commission) within thirty days of the Board's determination. Requires an appeal of the Commission's decision to be appealed within thirty days of entry of the Commission's order. Deletes the specified penalties for violations of the Article, and instead provides that in any arbitration proceeding before the Commission, any actions and penalties assessed against any person for violation of the Article must include the actions and penalties discussed above.

    Adds a new section amending GS 153A-352 and GS 160A-412 as follows. Requires counties and cities to accept and approve a design or other proposal for a component or element in the construction of a building from a licensed architect or engineer if (1) the submission is completed under valid seal of the architect or engineer; (2) field inspection of the installation or completion of construction is performed by the architect or engineer, and (3) that architect or engineer provides a signed document stating the component or element of the building inspected is in compliance with the North Carolina State Building Code. Discharges the county, city, their inspection departments, and inspectors from any duties and responsibilities with respect to the component or element in the building construction when the signed document is accepted and approved. Makes clarifying changes. Makes conforming changes to GS 153A-356 and GS 160A-416.

    Adds a new section amending GS 153A-346 and GS 160A-390 prohibiting counties and cities from defining dwelling units, bedrooms or sleeping units in a way that exceeds any definition of the same in another statute or rule adopted by a State agency.

    Adds a new section amending GS 153A-349.4 and GS 160A-400.23 to allow counties and cities to enter into a development agreement with a developer for the development of property as provided in the Part. Requires the agreements to be of a reasonable term specified in the agreement (was, required the property to contain 25 acres or more of developable property with an exception for property subject to a brownfields agreement, and limited the agreements to no more than 20 years). Amends GS 153A-349.3 and GS 160A-400.22 to allow a development agreement to be incorporated into any planning, zoning or subdivision ordinance. Effective October 1, 2015, and applies to development agreements entered into on or after that date.

    Part III.

    Further amends GS 143-214.23 by adding that for purposes of new (b1) concerning exceeding minimum state requirements (was, concerning deviations from state requirements), the term existing local ordinance includes a zoning district, subdivision or development regulation, comprehensive plan, policy, resolution, or any other act carrying the effect of law. Also adds that the terms riparian areas and riparian buffer areas include all landward setbacks from a surface water body with State required riparian buffers. 

    Amends GS 113-136(k) to delete the proposed language requiring an officer to have a reasonable suspicion that a violation has been committed before inspecting weapons, equipment, fish, or wildlife possessed incident to an activity regulated by law or rule that the officer has enforcement jurisdiction over.  Adds the requirement that the Wildlife Resources Commission study whether and under what circumstances reasonable suspicion that a violation has been committed must be required before inspecting weapons, equipment, fish, or wildlife. Requires a report on the study to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety by March 1, 2016.

    Adds a new section as follows. Repeals GS 113-174.3(e), which required each individual who obtained a for-hire license to submit logbooks summarizing catch and effort statistical data. Amends GS 113-224 to prohibit the Division of Marine Fisheries from entering into a joint enforcement agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service. Repeals GS 128-1.1(c2) which allowed inspectors of the Division of Marine Fisheries to assume law enforcement powers granted to the National Marine Fisheries Service. Requires the Division of Marine Fisheries to conduct a 12 month process to get stakeholder input on (1) the cots and benefits of a logbook similar to the one repealed; and (2) the impacts, costs, and benefits of a joint enforcement agreement similar to the one now prohibited. Requires the establishment of a stakeholder advisory group that includes specified parties. Requires a report to the Environmental Review Commission by October 15, 2016.

    Adds a section amending Section 21 of SL 2013-413 as follows. No longer requires that the term new animal waste management include a system serving a feedlot that has been abandoned or unused for a period of four years or more and is then put back into service). Requires the Environmental Management Commission  to revise its permanent rule on Swine Waste Management System Performance Standards so that it (1) applies to any farm that received a permit for its animal waste management system that allows a level of production at the farm greater than the largest production for which the farm has received a permit in the past and so that they also apply to any other animal waste management system otherwise subject to regulation under GS 143-215.10I; (2) does not apply to any facility that has had no animals on site for five continuous years or more; notifies the Division of Water Resources in writing at least 60 days before bringing any animals back to the site; and has all of the necessary permits before bringing the animals on site and the permit does not allow a level of production greater than the largest production for which the farm has received a permit in the past.

    Adds new Part IIIB.

    Amends the definition of small power producer in GS 62-3(27a) to include energy from other types of renewable resources. Amends GS 62-156, which governs the contracts between electric utilities and small power producers. Requires that standard contracts with these producers not exceed 100 kilowatts of capacity and not exceed 15 years. Requires that the rates paid by a utility to the producer not exceed the incremental cost to the utility (was limited to the energy cost). Provides that the contract may not require payment for capacity when the utility lacks a capacity need. Effective July 1, 2015, and applies to rates approved on or after that date.

    Amends GS 62-133.8 to eliminate the authority of utilities to charge account holders a higher annual fee in 2015 and thereafter to recover costs related to REPS implementation (capped at 2012 amounts). Allows incremental costs incurred by an electric power supplier before July 1, 2015, to comply with GS 62-133.8 to be recovered as provided for in GS 133.8(h), as amended. Specifies what is included in the costs incurred before July 1, 2015. Applies to cost recovery proceedings occurring on or after July 1, 2015. 

    Requires the Energy Policy Council, by May 1, 2016, to give the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations and the North Carolina Utilities Commission a comprehensive assessment of known and measurable costs and benefits to the electrical grid of distributed generation. Specifies what is to be included in the analysis. 


  • Summary date: Apr 17 2015 - More information

    Part I.

    Amends GS 143-143.10A, concerning criminal history checks for applicants for licensure as a manufactured home manufacturer, dealer, salesperson, or set-up contractor, to define applicant as a person applying for initial licensure as a salesperson or set-up contractor (removing manufacturer and dealer). Also specifies that applicants for initial licensure (was, for licensure) must consent to a criminal history record check. 

    Amends GS 130A-248 to no longer require a permitted restaurant or commissary to serve as a base of operations for a pushcart. Requires pushcarts to meet all of the sanitation requirements of a permitted commissary or have a permitted restaurant or commissary that serves as its base of operation.

    Part II.

    Amends GS 160A-381 to require (was, allow) a zoning ordinance to provide density credits or severable development rights for dedicated rights-of-way.

    Amends GS 150B-21.3A concerning the readoption of existing rules to add that if a rule is amended to impose a less stringent burden on the regulated person, then the agency does not have to prepare a fiscal note. Effective when the section becomes law and applies to the periodic review of existing rules occurring on or after that date.

    Requires the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee (APO) to review the recommendations made by the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee's report, entitled "Occupational Licensing Agencies Should Not be Centralized, but Stronger Oversight is Needed," to determine the best way to accomplish the report's recommendations and to improve oversight of occupational licensing boards. Requires APO to consult with specified entities in conducting the review. Requires APO to propose legislation to the 2016 Session of the 2015 General Assembly.

    Part III.

    Provides that for the purposes of implementing Section .1300 of Subchapter 2H of Chapter 2 of Title 15A of the North Carolina Administrative Code (Discharges to Isolated Wetlands and Isolated Waters), the isolated wetlands provisions of Section .1300 applies only to a Basin Wetland or Bog and no other wetland types as described in the North Carolina Wetland Assessment User Manual prepared by the North Carolina Wetland Functional Assessment Team, version 4.1 October 2010, that are not jurisdictional wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act. Specifies that the isolated wetlands provisions of Section .1300 do not apply to an isolated man‑made ditch or pond constructed for stormwater management purposes, any other man‑made isolated pond, or any other type of isolated wetland, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources must not regulate such water bodies under Section .1300. Allows the Environmental Management Commission to adopt rules to amend Section .1300 of Subchapter 2H of Chapter 2 of Title 15A of the North Carolina Administrative Code consistent with these provisions. Amends Section 54 of SL 2014-120 to amend the conditions that apply to the implementation of 15A NCAC 02H .1305 (Review of Applications) as follows: (1) adds that mitigation requirements for impacts to isolated wetlands only apply to the amount of impact exceeding the established thresholds, (2) deletes the provision defining isolated wetlands, and (3) adds that impacts to isolated wetlands must not be combined with the project impacts to 404 jurisdictional wetlands or streams for the purpose of determining when impact thresholds that trigger a mitigation requirement are met. These changes expire on the date that the Environmental Management Commission fulfills the requirement to adopt rules that are consistent with the changes made in Section 54 of SL 2014-120.  Effective when the section becomes law. 

    Pushes back the date by which the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) must adopt rules implementing a fast-track permitting for stormwater management systems from July 1, 2016, to November 1, 2016. Amends GS 143-214.7 to make the provisions of (b2) applicable to the implementation of state stormwater programs and local stormwater programs approved under (d) of the statute. Expands on the requirements that apply to those programs by adding four new provisions concerning vegetative buffers, the calculation of the difference in stormwater runoff from the pre- and post-development conditions, development in a vegetative buffer, and development around Class SA waters. Requires, no later than January 1, 2016, that a state agency or local government that implements a stormwater management program approved under GS 143-214.7(d) submit its current stormwater management program or a revised stormwater management program to the EMC. Requires the EMC, no later than July 1, 2016, to review and act on each of the submitted stormwater management programs in accordance with subsection (d) of GS 143‑214.7, as amended. Requires the EMC, with the assistance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to review the current status of state statutes, session laws, rules, and guidance documents related to the management of stormwater in the state and examine whether anything needs to be recodified or reorganized in order to clarify state law for the management of stormwater. Requires the EMC to submit any legislative recommendations to the 2016 Regular Session of the 2015 General Assembly.

    Amends GS 143-214.23 as follows. Allows approval of a delegation application from a local government proposing a riparian buffer width that is different from what is required by the state in accordance with the specified procedures. Allows land in a riparian buffer in which neither the state nor its subdivisions have a property interest to be used to satisfy other development-related regulatory requirements. Requires that the buffer area be denominated on the recorded plat when the riparian buffers are included within a lot. Sets out conditions under which a local government must attribute a proportionate share of a riparian buffer on lots abutting the buffer area for purposes of development-related regulatory requirements. Allows local governments to impose restrictions on the use of riparian areas only within river basins where the riparian buffers are required by the state. Sets out ways the restrictions may be imposed. Sets out exceptions to those restrictions and the riparian buffer deviation approval procedures. Enacts new GS 143-214.18 to provide that absent a federal requirement or an imminent threat to public health or safety, an applicable buffer rule does not apply to any tract of land that meets the specified criteria. Enacts new GS 143-214.19 to provide that if state law requires a protective riparian buffer for coastal wetlands in the Neuse River Basin or the Tar-Pamlico River Basin, the coastal wetlands and marshlands must not be treated as part of the surface waters and are to be included in the measurement of the protective riparian buffer. Specifically delineates the protective riparian buffer for any of the coastal wetlands or marshlands in the Neuse River Basin or the Tar-Pamlico River Basin depending on whether the coastal wetlands or marshlands extend less than 50 feet or 50 feet or more from the high normal water level or normal water level. Defines the terms coastal wetlands and marshlands as they apply in the statute. Enacts new GS 143-214.27 prohibiting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from imposing as a condition of any permit issued under this Article riparian buffer requirements that exceed established standards for the river basin within which the activity or facility receiving the permit is located. If no riparian buffer standards have been established, then prohibits imposing a buffer standard as a condition for a permit that exceeds the standard for the Neuse River Basin. Allows DENR to impose as a condition of any permit issued under this Article a more restrictive riparian buffer requirement than that established for the river basin within which the activity or facility receiving the permit is located, or a riparian buffer requirement in a river basin where no riparian buffer standards have been established as set forth in this subsection. Before doing so, requires a finding that the condition is necessary in order to meet the nutrient reduction goals for the river basin within which the activity or facility receiving the permit is located. Effective August 1, 2015.

    Amends GS 113-136(k) to require that an officer have a reasonable suspicion that a violation has been committed before inspecting weapons, equipment, fish, or wildlife possessed incident to an activity regulated by law or rule that the officer has enforcement jurisdiction over. Adds that the statute does not give an inspector, protector, or other law enforcement officer the authority to inspect weapons, equipment, fish, or wildlife in the absence of a person in apparent control of the items. Effective December 1, 2015, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date. Requires the Wildlife Resources Commission to report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety by March 1, 2017, and annually thereafter, on the number of complaints received against Commission law enforcement officers, the subject matter of the complaints, and the geographic areas in which the complaints were filed.

    Requires the Department of Insurance, the Building Code Council, and the Coastal Resources Commission to jointly study how flood elevations and building heights for structures are established and measured in the coastal region of the state. Requires engaging a broad group of stakeholders, including property owners, local governments, and representatives of the development industry. Requires the results of the study to be submitted by January 1, 2016, to the 2015 General Assembly.

    Part IV. 

    Includes a severability clause.

    Unless otherwise provided, effective when the act becomes law.


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