Bill Summary for S 615 (2017-2018)

Summary date: 

May 30 2017

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2017-2018 Session
Senate Bill 615 (Public) Filed Tuesday, April 4, 2017
AN ACT TO AMEND CERTAIN LAWS GOVERNING AGRICULTURAL MATTERS.
Intro. by B. Jackson, Sanderson, Brock.

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Bill summary

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

Makes organizational changes.

Deletes proposed amendments to GS 106-498 (Bond required).

Directs the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission to study possible updates to GS Chapter 106, Article 44 (Unfair practices by handlers of fruits and vegetables), and the advisability of providing property tax abatement to aging farm machinery, as specified, and to submit its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by March 1, 2018.

Amends GS 68-17 (Impounding livestock at large; right to recover costs and damages; abandoned livestock). Extends the proposed time limit after which livestock is deemed abandoned from one month after the last day the owner paid a fee to a custodian for the treatment, boarding, or care of the livestock, to two months after that day. Makes conforming changes.

Amends GS 113A-52.1 (Forest practice Guidelines). Directs Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) (currently, directs the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)) to adopt Forest Practice Guidelines Related to Water Quality (Guidelines). Directs the Commissioner of Agriculture to establish and appoint the Forestry Technical Advisory Committee (currently called the Technical Advisory Committee), as currently specified. Requires the committee member knowledgeable in erosion and sedimentation control to be employed by DEQ.

Makes a conforming change to GS 113A-52.01, regarding exemptions from GS Chapter 113A, Article 4 (Sedimentation Pollution Control Act of 1973). Amends the exemption from the Article for harvesting timber to provide that it applies to activities conducted in accordance with standards (was, best management practices) defined by the Guidelines.

Amends GS 113A-61.1 (Inspection of land-disturbing activity; notice of violation). Authorizes DACS to inspect land-disturbing activities on forestland for the production and harvesting of timber and other timber products to determine compliance with the Guidelines. Prohibits willful resistance, delay, or obstruction of an authorized representative, employee, or agent of DACS while inspecting or attempting to inspect a land-disturbing activity on forestland for production and harvesting of timber under this statute.

Makes a conforming change to GS 106-895 (Powers of DACS).

Amends GS 106-932 (Assent of legislature to mutual aid provisions of other compacts). Deletes the General Assemblyäó»s assent to the Middle Atlantic Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact, and provides the General Assemblyäó»s assent to Article IV and V of the Middle Atlantic Interstate Fire Protection Compact, and the Great Plains Wildland Fire Protection Compact, in accordance with Article VII of those compacts relating to interregional mutual aid.

Amends GS 153A-340 (Grant of power). Amends the list of things that constitute sufficient evidence that a property is being used for bona fide farm purposes, excluding a Farm Identification Number issued by the US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency from that list. Provides that buildings or structures used for agritourism (as defined) are a bona fide farm purpose if the building or structure is located on a property that either is owned by a person who holds a qualifying farmer sales tax exemption certificate from the Department of Revenue, or is enrolled in the present use value program. Provides that failure to comply with subsection (b), regarding when county zoning regulations may affect property used for a bona fide farm purpose, for three years after an agritourism building or structure is certified as a bona fide purpose, subjects the building or structure to the countyäó»s zoning regulations in effect on the date the building no longer meets the requirements of subsection (b).

Amends GS 143-138 (North Carolina State Building Code). Provides that the term farm buildingin that statute means any nonresidential building or structure used for a bona fide farm purpose.

Amends GS 20-39.1 (Publicly owned vehicles to be marked; private license plates on publicly owned vehicles). Provides that a motor vehicle used by DACS exclusively for meat and poultry compliance officers to conduct inspections is not required to be marked as provided in this statute. Authorizes the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to annually provide license plates to DACS for use on publicly owned or leased vehicles for this purpose, with records maintained in compliance with GS 20-56 (Registration indexes).

Amends GS 106-549.15 (Definitions). Amends the definition of adulterated as it is used in Article 49B (Meat Inspection Requirements; Adulteration and Misbranding), to include meat, etc., that bears or contains a color additive which is unsafe under section 721 (was, section 706) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as specified. Makes an identical change to GS 106-549.51 (Definitions), as it pertains to poultry instead of meat, etc.

Amends GS 106-896. Amends the caption to read äóìForest rangers, deputy rangers, and emergency workers.äóù Provides for the Commissioner of Agricultureäó»s designee to perform the authorized functions under that statute. Authorizes the Commissioner or their designee to authorize as many forest rangers, deputy rangers, or emergency workers (all as defined) as the Commissioner deems necessary and available (deleting the current language restricting this authority to counties the Commissioner determines warrant the establishment of a forest fire organization).

Makes conforming changes to GS 106-899. Provides that only a forest ranger (currently, forest ranger or deputy forest ranger) may summon residents to assist in extinguishing fires. Adds deputy rangers to these with power to prevent and extinguish fires.

Amends GS 106-902 to make the compensation requirements applicable to deputy rangers and emergency workers in addition to rangers.

Amends GS 106-907 (Instructions on forest preservation and development). Gives forest rangers (was, district, county, township, and all deputy rangers) the currently described responsibility to distribute forest preservation, development, and management literature to schools, and to keep posted in schools forest fire prevention posters.

Amends GS 106-941, making the definition of forest ranger in GS Chapter 106, Article 78 (Regulation of open fires), conform to that in amended GS 106-896.

Amends GS 106-942, regarding fire permits in high-hazard counties. Provides that permits for starting fires may be obtained from agents authorized by the forest ranger (currently, county forest ranger), as currently described.

Amends GS 97-2(2), which sets out the definition of employee as the term is used in Article 1 (Workersäó» Compensation Act). Replaces the current language referencing an "authorized pickup firefighter" in the existing definition with an "authorized emergency worker." Defines authorized emergency worker to mean an individual who has completed required emergency response training as required by the North Carolina Forest Service and who is available as needed by the North Carolina Forest Service for emergency activities, including immediate dispatch to wildfires, snow events, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or other emergencies, and standby for initial attack on fires during period of high fire danger. Makes conforming changes. Makes the language gender neutral.

Amends GS 121-39.1, concerning the termination or modification of agricultural conservation agreements. Adds to subsection (g) of that statute, which requires an agency requesting a conservation agreement modification or termination to conduct a conservation benefit analysis, that the statute does not apply to a voluntary termination or modification affecting no more than the lesser of 2% or one acre of the total easement area of the conservation agreement when requested by a public utility, the Department of Transportation, or a government entity having eminent domain authority under Article 3 of GS Chapter 40.

Amends GS 20-101(b) to exempt motor vehicles licensed at the farmer rate under GS 20-88 from having a USDOT identification number as required by the statute.

Amends GS 89C-25 (Limitations on application of Chapter), adding a new subsection providing that GS Chapter 89C does not prevent the closure of waste impoundments for animal waste management systems, as defined in GS 143-215.10B(3), by a person who is designated as a Technical Specialist in the Waste Utilization Plan/Nutrient Management Category by the North Carolina Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Adds that new subsection (11) does not apply to the design or installation of a spillway.

Amends GS 20-381 by adding a new subsection (d) exempting a covered farm vehicle engaged in intrastate commerce from the requirements of 49 CFR 390.21. Adds that the definitions set out in 49 CFR 390.5 apply to new subsection (d).

Directs the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to exempt covered farm vehicles engaged in intrastate commerce from the requirements of 49 CFR 390.21 until the adoption of rules to amend 14B NCAC 07C .0101 (Safety of Operation and Equipment). Requires DMV to adopt rules to amend 14B NCAC 07C .0101 consistent with the above directive. Provides that the implementation directive as described above expires on the date that the rules adopted pursuant to this act become effective.

Adds a severability clause.

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