AN ACT TO PROVIDE REGULATORY RELIEF TO THE AGRICULTURAL COMMUNITY OF NORTH CAROLINA BY PROVIDING FOR VARIOUS TRANSPORTATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL REFORMS AND BY MAKING VARIOUS OTHER STATUTORY CHANGES.
Amends GS 106-823(f), concerning the North Carolina Horse Council's authority to levy an assessment on a horse owner, when approved by referendum among horse owners, providing that the North Carolina Horse Council first determines the amount of the proposed assessment, not to exceed $4 (was, $2 per ton of horse feed). Further provides that the period for the assessment can not exceed 10 years (was, three years).
Amends GS 105-163.3(b) concerning a requirement that employers must withhold state income taxes from wages paid to nonresident contractors or ITIN contractors, adding new language which exempts compensation paid to an alien, described as in 8 USC 1101(a)(15)(h)(ii)(a), from the withholding requirement to the extent that it is not subject to federal income tax withholding.
Enacts new GS 106-26.3, establishing that it is policy of state of North Carolina to support and promote sustainable agriculture. Defines sustainable agriculture for the purposes of this section.
Provides for the implementation of rules for the Department of Transportation (DOT) concerning the prohibited movement of permitted oversize vehicles, providing that movement must be made between sunrise and sunset Monday through Sunday, with a specified exception for 16 foot-wide mobile or modular homes. Also provides a rule for movement of a permitted oversize vehicle, prohibiting travel during specified hours surrounding the Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day holidays. Provides that these temporary rules are to be enacted until the DOT can enact permanent rules that substantively mirror the temporary rules, at which time the temporary rules will expire.
Enacts new GS 20-119(g)(1a), which provides that the DOT must issue annual overwidth permits for vehicles, no wider than 12 feet, carrying baled hay from place to place on the same farm, from one farm to another, or from farm to market or vice versa. Specifies the limitations of the permit.
Amends GS 20-116(j), conditions for certain farm equipment to be operated on any highway, providing that it must operate to the right of the center line of the road/highway unless the combined width of the traveling lane and the accessible shoulder is less than the width of the equipment (previously, was required to operate right of center when meeting traffic coming from the opposite direction and at all other times when possible and practical).
Amends GS 20-51(16), provisions for spreaders to operate on a highway while exempt from registration and certificate of title requirements, providing, in addition to other requirements, that they cannot exceed a speed of 45 miles per hour (was, 35).
Enacts new GS Chapter 63, Article 11, Marking and Notice of Meteorological Towers, setting out terms and definitions for use in the Article, including height and meteorological tower. Requires the marking and painting of any meteorological tower exceeding 50 feet in height. Also provides that towers must be constructed in a way to be visible in clear air during daylight hours from a distance of at least 2,000 feet. Sets out additional requirements for the construction and maintenance of meteorological towers.
Directs the DOT to adopt rules requiring individuals proposing to construct a tower to register with the DOT. Sets out registration requirements, including a registration fee of $350. Also requires notification to the DOT upon removal or destruction of a tower. Directs the DOT to establish and maintain a database containing the location of all the towers in North Carolina by January 1, 2016. Provides for civil penalties not to exceed $10,000 per violation of the Article. Exempts towers constructed prior to the effective date of the Article from complying with the above provisions. Effective January 1, 2017, applying to meteorological towers erected on or after that date.
Amends GS 113-202(b), concerning shellfish cultivation leases, providing that the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) must not exclude any area from leasing solely because the area contains submerged aquatic vegetation. Also requires DENR to make specific finds based on standards provided in GS 113-202(a) before reaching a decision not to grant or renew a lease for shellfish cultivation for any area containing submerged aquatic vegetation. Effective July 1, 2015, applying to any new shellfish cultivation leases or renewals of existing shellfish leases issued on or after that date.
Amends GS 105-277.2 concerning definitions for agriculture, horticulture, and forestland, providing that for the purposes of the definition for agricultural land, the commercial production or growing of animals includes the rearing, feeding, training, caring, and managing of horses. Also amends the definition for the term individually owned, setting out presumptions for determining whether or not a principal business is farming agricultural land, horticultural land, or forestland. Also provides for a rebuttal of the presumption. Effective July 1, 2015, applying to taxes imposed for taxable years beginning on or after that date.
Enacts new GS 105-277.4(f) concerning the appraisal of at use value of agricultural and horticultural land, and forestland, providing that the Department of Revenue must publish a present-use value program guide annually and make it available on the Department's website. Requires assessors to adhere to the Department of Revenue's present-use value program guide when making decisions regarding the qualifications or appraisals of the specified property above.
Enacts new GS 121-39A, concerning the termination of a conservation agreement, setting out provisions for petitioning the Council of State for termination of the agreement based on grounds that the agreement is no longer capable of achieving the conservation purposes for which it was executed. Sets out requirements for the termination request. Requires the Council of State to act on the request within 60 days of receipt. Sets out procedures for the approval of a termination request and provides that either party can appeal the decision in district court no later than the 45th day after notification of the request. Provides for taxes or penalties upon the termination of a conservation agreement. Provides that the above provisions apply to conservation agreements intended to be effective perpetually or that are terminated prior to the period of time stipulated in the agreement and to agreements where at least one party to the agreement is a public body of North Carolina. Effective July 1, 2015, applying to taxes imposed for taxable years beginning on or after that date.
Rewrites Article 49H of GS Chapter 106 as Production, Sale, and Transportation of Farmed Cervids (was, Production and Sale of Fallow Deer and Red Deer). Rewrites GS 106-549.97 to provide that Article 49H is about the regulation by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (Department) of farmed cervids (members of the deer family) produced and sold for commercial purposes. Directs the Department to regulate the production, sale, possession, transportation, importation, and exportation of farmed cervids. Adds subsection (a2), which assigns sole authority for farmed cervids to the Department, including the administration of the NC Captive Cervid Herd Certification Program and directs the Department to allow the sale of farmed cervids, alive or dead, and whole or in part. Specifies that the Department is to follow specified USDA Standards in implementing Article 49H with regards to cervids that are susceptible to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Provides specifically regarding the adoption of rules by the Department to address captivity licenses for farmed cervids susceptible to CWD. Requires that all free-ranging cervids be removed from any new captive cervid facility before stocking the facility with farmed cervids. Prohibits hunting facilities as defined by USDA Standards on the premises of a licensed facility.
Assigns the regulation of the possession, transportation, importation, and exportation of non-farmed cervids under authority of GS 113-272.6 to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (Commission). Specifies that actions by the Department do not in any way limit the authority of the Commission to regulate non-farmed cervids, as state wildlife resources belong to the people of North Carolina as a whole. Provides that nothing in Article 49H authorizes the Department to regulate hunting or any activity related to hunting.
Repeals subsection (c) of GS 106-549.97, which broadly defined the terms cervid and cervidae as elk and deer, and defined farmed cervid and white-tailed deer. Adds new subsection (a1) defining the following terms as they apply in Article 49H: (1) Commission--the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; (2) Department--the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; (3) farmed cervid--any cervid, as defined by USDA Standards, susceptible to CWD, or not susceptible to CWD, that is held in captivity and produced, bought, or sold for commercial purposes; includes any cervid bred in captivity and continuously maintained within a herd that is enrolled in and complies with a USDA-approved Herd Certification Program; also includes any animal registered or tagged in any captive cervid facility existing within the state as of July 1, 2015; (4) non-farmed cervid--all animals in the family Cervidae other than farmed cervids; (5) USDA--the United States Department of Agriculture; and (6) USDA Standards—the USDA’s Chronic Wasting Disease Program Standards, May 2014 edition, and subsequent updates.
Further amends GS 106-549.97 to specify regulations regarding farmed cervids, including the transportation of live farmed cervids. Prohibits any unit of local government, including a county or municipality, from adopting any law that is not consistent with or is more restrictive than the provisions of Article 49H. Authorizes the Commissioner of Agriculture to assess a civil penalty of no more than $5,000 per animal against any person who violates a provision of Article 49H or any rule adopted under this Article. Deletes GS 106-549.98 regarding establishing inspection fees.
Amends GS 113-272-6 to authorize the Commission to regulate the possession and transportation, including importation and exportation of non-farmed cervids, including game carcasses and parts of game carcasses removed by hunters or imported from hunting facilities as defined by USDA Standards. Assigns the same meaning of non-farmed cervid as in GS 106-549.97. Requires the Commission to follow the USDA Standards as defined in GS 106-549.97 and additional provisions set out in federal regulations, and prohibits the Commission from adopting any rule or standard that is more restrictive than the USDA Standards. Prohibits any action on the part of the Commission from limiting the authority of the Department to regulate farmed cervids. Makes additional conforming changes.
Amends GS 143-215.107, regarding air quality standards and classifications, to prohibit the NC Environmental Management Commission (EMC) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from implementing and enforcing federal standards limiting emissions from wood heaters and adopted after May 1, 2014, that would limit fuel resources providing heat or hot water to a residence or business. Amends GS 143-213 to add new subdivision (31) defining wood heater as the term applies in this section.
Repeals GS 106-815 concerning dairy reporting and amends GS 19A-62(c) to modify the Department of Agriculture reporting requirements, moving the submission deadline for its annual report on the Spay/Neuter Account from February to March of each year.
Amends GS 106-967 to make modifications and clarifying changes to the immunity from liability provisions under the Prescribed Burning Act. Amends GS 106-968 to make technical and clarifying changes to the provisions on prescribed burning. Provides that the North Carolina Forest Service may accept prescribed burner certification from another state or other entity for a prescribed burning under this Article.
Amends GS 14-140.1 to make the penalty for failure to maintain a careful watchman in charge of a burning an infraction (was, a Class 3 misdemeanor) which may include a fine of no more than $50 (was, a fine of not less than $10).
Amends GS 106-24.1 to limit the personal identification information that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services may disclose about its animal health programs.
Makes technical corrections to GS 14-137 and GS 143-166.13.
Adds a severability clause to provide that if any provisions of the proposed act or its application are held to be invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provisions or applications.
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