A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT TO (1) MAINTAIN THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATIONS FOR AGRICULTURAL OPERATIONS AND DIRECT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES TO ADOPT RULES FOR A FORMAL COMPLAINT PROCEDURE; (2) CLARIFY THE AUTHORITY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO ADOPT ORDINANCES RELATED TO FERTILIZER; (3) REWRITE THE LANDSCAPE CONTRACTOR LICENSING STATUTES; (4) STUDY THE STATE'S PARTICIPATION IN THE COMMERCIAL VEHICLE SAFETY ALLIANCE NORTH AMERICAN STANDARD INSPECTION PROGRAM; (5) CLARIFY THE MEANING OF THE TERMS "PLANTING AND HARVESTING SEASON" AND "PLANTING AND HARVESTING PERIOD" FOR PURPOSES OF APPLYING FEDERAL LAWS OR REGULATIONS RELATING TO HOURS OF SERVICE RULES FOR CERTAIN DRIVERS TRANSPORTING AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS; (6) AMEND THE CHAIRMANSHIP OF THE AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY AWARENESS STUDY COMMISSION; (7) ALLOW THE COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE TO APPOINT LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS TO CARRY OUT THE LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES; (8) AMEND THE HORSE INDUSTRY PROMOTION ACT; (9) ALLOW THE USE OF PESTICIDES TO CONTROL MOLES; (10) CLASSIFY TRESPASSING ON AN AGRICULTURAL FACILITY AS A FIRST DEGREE TRESPASS; (11) REQUIRE WRITTEN CONSENT TO OPERATE AN ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLE ON PROPERTY OWNED BY ANOTHER; (12) ALLOW DRAINAGE DISTRICTS TO MAINTAIN DITCHES IN BUFFER ZONES; (13) CLARIFY PERIODIC INSPECTIONS AUTHORITY OF THE NORTH CAROLINA HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY; (14) PERMIT SECURITY GRILLES AT ALL EXITS OF A BUILDING SUBJECT TO CERTAIN CONDITIONS; (15) DESIGNATE THE "GOT TO BE NC" MARKETING CAMPAIGN AS THE OFFICIAL AGRICULTURAL MARKETING CAMPAIGN FOR THE STATE; (16) ALLOW CERTIFICATION OF PRIVATE PESTICIDE APPLICATORS; AND (17) EXEMPT STATE FAIR ADMISSION FEES FROM RULE MAKING.
House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 2nd edition:
Changes the short and long titles.
Enacts new GS 143-215D, Agricultural operation investigations confidential, providing that complaints and records associated with environmental investigations for agricultural operations are confidential records and can only be released by court order. Also enacts new GS 143-215.9E, which provides that DENR can request additional information from the complainant. Also allows DENR to accept or decline to further investigate any complaint about agricultural operations if an initial review leads to a finding to believe that a complaint is frivolous or was filed in bad faith.
Directs DENR to adopt rules in order to develop a formal system for receiving, investigating, and responding to environmental complaints about agricultural operations.
Enacts new GS 106-678 prohibiting local governments from adopting or continuing in effect any ordinance or resolution regulating fertilizer. Provides that the statute does not prevent local governments from exercising planning and zoning authority, or fire prevention or inspection authority, nor does it limit the authority of DENR or the EMC to enforce water quality standards. Also provides that the statute does not prohibit a local government or political subdivision of the state from adopting ordinances regulating fertilizers to protect water quality if the ordinances have been approved by the EMC or DENR as part of a local plan or National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit application and do not exceed the state's minimum requirements to protect water quality. The statute also does not prohibit local governments from exercising authority to regulate explosive, corrosive, inflammable, or radioactive substances.
Directs the Department of Public Safety to study the state’s participation in the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance North American Standard Inspection Program for roadside commercial vehicle safety inspections. Requires the study to include (1) an explanation of how the program is implemented, (2) a history of when North Carolina began to participate in the program, (3) data on the amount of safety inspection decals that are issued each year, and (4) a geographic analysis of where the decals are issued. The results of the study are to be submitted to the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission by November 1, 2014.
Amends GS 20-381 to define planting and harvesting season and planting and harvesting period as January 1 through December 31 of each year for the purposes of federal law or regulations that relate to hours of service rules for drivers transporting agricultural commodities and farm supplies for agricultural purposes.
Amends the chairmanship of the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission, found in GS 120-150, to allow the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate to appoint two members each from their respective bodies to serve as co-chairs of the Commission (previously, the chairs of the House Agriculture Committee and the chairs of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources were on the Committee and served as Committee co-chairs). Makes conforming changes to the Commission membership.
Amends GS 106-900 to authorize the Commissioner of Agriculture to appoint as many Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) law enforcement officers as is deemed necessary to meet specified DACS law enforcement responsibilities. Requires officers to meet the same standards of other sworn law-enforcement officers, including training standards of the NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission, pursuant to GS Chapter 17C, and take a constitutional oath of office. Allows the Commissioner to designate certain officers to have the powers and duties of a forest ranger and the power to enforce forest laws. Makes language gender neutral.
Amends GS 14-159.12, concerning first degree trespass, providing that trespassing in an agricultural facility is a first degree trespass punishable as a Class A1 misdemeanor. Statute also provides that if the trespass is committed with the intent to disrupt normal operation of the facility or the trespass includes an act that places the offender or others on the premises at risk of serious bodily injury then it will be punishable as a Class H felony. Effective December 1, 2014, applying to offenses committed on or after that date.
Amends GS 14-159.3 to require that a person must obtain written consent from a property owner before operating an all-terrain vehicle on that property (previously, only require consent). Further provides that a landowner that has given written consent for the operation of an all-terrain vehicle owes the same duty of care to the people that received written consent as that a trespasser would be owed. Effective December 1, 2014, applying to offenses committed on or after that date.
Amends GS 156-82.1 concerning the duties and powers of the board of drainage commissioners, providing that no state statute, rule, or local government ordinance regarding riparian buffers for the protection of water quality will apply to the construction, operation, maintenance, or repair of canals, water retardant structures, or other improvements under the control and supervision of the board.