AN ACT TO ALLOW MAGISTRATES, ASSISTANT REGISTERS OF DEEDS, AND DEPUTY REGISTERS OF DEEDS TO RECUSE THEMSELVES FROM PERFORMING DUTIES RELATED TO MARRIAGE CEREMONIES DUE TO SINCERELY HELD RELIGIOUS OBJECTION.
Enacts new GS 51-5.5, recusal of certain public officials, providing that magistrates have the right to recuse from performing all lawful marriages based on sincerely held religious objections. Any such recusal is made by giving notice to the chief district court judge and is in effect for at least six months from the time notice is given to the chief district court judge. Any recused magistrate cannot perform any marriage until the recusal is rescinded in writing. Provides that the chief district court judge will ensure that all those issued a marriage license to be married before a magistrate can marry.
Provides that an assistant register of deeds and deputy register of deeds have the right to recuse from issuing all lawful marriage licenses based on sincerely held religious objections. Any such recusal is made by giving notice to the register of deeds and is in effect for at least six months from the time notice is given to the register of deeds. Any recused assistant register of deeds and deputy register of deeds cannot issue any marriage license until the recusal is rescinded in writing. Provides that the register of deeds will ensure that all those applying for a marriage license are issued a license after satisfying requirements in GS Chapter 51, Article 2 (Marriage Licenses).
Provides that if all magistrates in a jurisdiction have recused, that the chief district court judge must notify the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), after which the AOC must ensure that a magistrate is available in that jurisdiction to perform marriages for times required pursuant to GS 7A-292(b). Provides that the chief district court judge will be deemed a magistrate, for the purpose of performing marriages, during the time the AOC has not designated a magistrate in that jurisdiction.
Amends GS 14-230, concerning willfully failing to discharge duties, providing that magistrates that recuse themselves in accordance with new GS 51-5.5 cannot be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor under GS 14-230 for recusal to perform marriages. Makes technical changes.
Amends GS 161-27, concerning the failure of a register of deeds to discharge duties, providing that registers of deeds that recuse themselves in accordance with new GS 51-5.5 cannot be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor under GS 161-27 for recusal to issue marriage licenses. Makes technical changes.
Amends GS 7A-292, additional powers of magistrates, providing that any authority granted to magistrates under GS 51-1 and GS 7A-292(a) is a responsibility given to the collective magistrates in a county and is not a duty imposed on each individual magistrate. Provides that the chief district court judge must ensure that marriages to be performed by a magistrate are available to be performed at least a total of 10 hours per week, over at least three business days per week.
Provides language allowing any magistrate that resigned or was terminated from office between October 6, 2014, and the date this bill becomes law to apply to fill any vacant magistrate position. Further provides that magistrates that resigned as outlined above and that are reappointed within 90 days after this bill becomes law cannot receive compensation or earn leave for the time absent from their position but they will be considered to have been serving during that time period for purposes of determining continuous service, length of aggregate service, anniversary date, longevity pay, and accrual of vacation and sick leave. Also, for the purposes of the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System, the magistrate will be considered to have been employed under GS 135-1(10) during the break in service. Further states that the Judicial Department will pay and submit both the employee and employer contributions to the Retirement Systems Division as though the magistrate had been in active service. Provides a 90-day window of submittal after the magistrate's resumption of service.
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