Bill Summary for S 770 (2015-2016)

Summary date: 

May 25 2016

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
Senate Bill 770 (Public) Filed Wednesday, April 27, 2016
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FURTHER REGULATORY RELIEF TO THE AGRICULTURAL COMMUNITY.
Intro. by B. Jackson, Brock, Cook.

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Bill summary

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

Amends the act's short and long titles.

Makes technical and clarifying changes to the newly enacted five sections to Article 4H of GS Chapter 106 which provide provisions for the enforcement by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) of bedding laws governing improperly made, sanitized or tagged bedding.

Enacts new GS Chapter 106, Article 85, or the Agricultural Emergency Response Act, to authorize DACS to aid and assist agricultural operations and landowners in the preparedness, response, and recovery from agricultural emergencies. These DACS powers and duties are not contingent on the declaration of a state of emergency in North Carolina. Sets out and defines four terms for use in this Article, including Commissioner, Department, Agricultural Emergency Response Team (AERT), and agricultural emergency.  Provides that upon the determination of an imminent threat of an agricultural emergency or that one already exists, DACS is authorized to appoint and deploy AERTs to respond to agricultural emergencies, by way of aiding in prevention measures or recovery efforts  on the premises of agricultural landowners throughout the State. Per the definition of AERTs, all members of the team would be DACS employees or personnel operating under agreement as a contracted service. Provides that AERTs and other entities attempting to comply with this act benefit from immunity from liability for death or injury to persons or for damage to property, except in cases of willful misconduct, gross negligence, or bad faith. Also extends immunity from liability to private parties and entities that allow the use of real or personal property for the purposes of activities related to an agricultural emergency response. Provides that DACS is authorized to use unrestricted funds available to it by way of appropriation by the General Assembly from the General Fund. Sets out general nondiscrimination clause in regards to extending relief and assistance activities. Enacts new GS 166A-19.77A in the NC Emergency Management Act, designating DACS as an emergency response agency for the purposes specified. 

Enacts new GS 113-299, Aerial management of feral swine, to allow employees of the Wildlife Resources Commission and employees of federal agencies whose responsibilities include fisheries and wildlife management to cull feral swine from aircraft, with the written permission of the landowner. Prohibits such activities from taking place in coastal counties during waterfowl season.

Repeals GS 106-168.5, Duties of Commissioner upon receipt of application; inspection committee, which provided for the establishment of the rendering plant inspection committee. Amends GS 106-168.6, GS 106-168.7, GS 106-168.10, GS 106-168.12, and GS 106-168.13, all sections dealing with the operation of rendering plants, making conforming changes as a result of the repeal of the rendering committee, transitioning previous responsibilities of the rendering committee to the Commissioner of Agriculture. Makes various other technical and clarifying changes.

Amends GS 139-4(d) concerning the powers and duties of the Soil and Water Conservation Commission, adding the duty to establish a required training program for all district supervisors. Enacts new GS 139-7.2, to require both elected and appointed soil and water district supervisors to complete at least six hours of annual training, which must include topics of soil, water, and resource conservation and duties of district supervisors.

Amends GS 19A-67, concerning the Animal Shelter Support Fund, providing that the Board of Agriculture (was, Animal Welfare Section) must issue rules concerning eligible expenses and guidelines for the administration of the Animal Shelter Support Fund. Also gives the Board of Agriculture temporary rulemaking authority to administer the Fund. 

Amends GS 150B-1(d) to exempt the Board of Agriculture from rulemaking requirements specifically in regards to the fee schedule for the preparation of forest management plans. Amends GS 106-1004, fees for forest management plans, making conforming changes reflecting the exemption from rulemaking for the schedule of fees for the preparation of forest management plans.

Enacts new GS 115C-264.4, Local preference for produce in schools, allowing local school boards to develop policies and procedures for the maximization of the purchasing of food grown or raised in North Carolina, including policies that allow a percentage price preference for the purpose of procuring food grown or manufactured in North Carolina. 

Amends GS 90-91, concerning Schedule III controlled substances, to create an exemption for chorionic gonadotropin from the definition of anabolic steroids, which is on the list of Schedule III, but the exemption from being considered a controlled substance applies only when administered by injection for veterinary use by or upon the order of a licensed veterinarian.

Amends GS 105-129.16D(b), concerning tax credits for constructing renewable fuel facilities, to extend the sunset for the production credit for commercial facilities for processing renewable fuel from January 1, 2017, to January 1, 2020. 

Enacts new GS Chapter 106, Article 86, Farmed Cervid Industry Promotion Act, setting out five definitions for use in the act, including association, cervid farmer, department, farmed cervid, and farmed cervid feed. Provides for the voluntary assessment through the referendum process conducted by the NC Deer and Elk Farmers Association (Association). Provides duties and responsibilities for the Association concerning the assessment and referendum, including amount of the assessment, not to exceed $4 per ton of farmed cervid feed and the time and place of the referendum. Requires a majority vote for the assessment to be levied. Further sets out procedures and processes for the assessment, including to whom the assessment is to be remitted, permissible refunds of the assessment, and that the funds must be used to promote the interests of the farmed cervid industry.

Amends GS 143-215.15, Permits for water use within capacity use areas - Procedures, enacting new subsection (a1) to exempt water uses for agricultural purposes on bona fide farms or silviculture operations from water permitting requirements for capacity use areas. Requires registration of the agricultural water withdrawals use as specified. Directs the Environmental Management Commission to revise its rules to be consistent with the above. 

Amends GS 143-138, North Carolina State Building Code, concerning activities which do not require permits, making various changes and providing that no permit is needed to conduct any construction, installation, repair, replacement, or alteration activities costing $15,000 or less in residential and farm structures if they involve the following: (1) replacements of windows; doors; exterior siding; or pickets, railings, stair treads, and decking of porches and exterior decks; (2) plumbing replacements that do not change size or capacity; or (3) replacement of roofing.  Deletes language that limited the exclusions from permit requirements for electrical lighting devices and fixtures and water heaters only to work performed on one- or two-family dwellings. Further amends the section to provide that no permit is required for the replacement of water heaters in one- or two-family dwellings if (1) the energy use rate or thermal input does not exceed that of the water heater being replaced and there is no change in fuel, energy source, location, capacity, or routing or sizing of venting and piping and (2) the work is performed by a person licensed pursuant to GS 87-21, meaning by the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating, and Fire Sprinkler Contractors. Enacts new subsection (b16) providing an exclusion from permitting for electrical devices and lighting fixtures, such as the repair or replacement of dishwashers, disposals, electrical devices, or lighting fixtures in residential or commercial structures, if (1) the repair or replacement does not require addition or relocation of additional electrical wiring and (2) the work is performed by a person licensed by the State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors, pursuant to GS 87-43. Makes clarifying changes concerning the exclusions from permits for the routine maintenance of fuel dispensing pumps and other dispensing devices. Amends GS 153A-357 (county permit regulations) and GS 160A-417 (city permit regulations) to bring the local government regulations in compliance with the changes made to State regulations and permit requirements in GS 143-138 as described above. Makes organizational changes. Effective October 1, 2016. 

Amends GS 113A-52.01 concerning the applicability of the Sedimentation Pollution Control Act, providing for an exemption for any activity that constitutes a bona fide farm use as specified under GS 153A-340(b)(2). Also specifically excludes activities involving the production of mulch, ornamental plants, sod, and other horticultural products from the Sedimentation Pollution Control Act.

Amends GS 143B-437.020, concerning the definition for an eligible project under the Expanded Gas Products Service to Agriculture Fund, modifying the definition to provide that an eligible project is a project for an agricultural operation or agricultural processing facility that requests natural gas or propane gas service (previously, definition required an eligible project to expand the agricultural or processing capabilities of the facility).

Amends GS 75-41 concerning automatic renewal clauses in contracts, making organizational changes and setting new requirements and providing that an automatic contract renewal for the sale or lease of products or services for a term exceeding 30 days is void and unenforceable unless the consumer is given written notice of the automatic renewal if it is not canceled. Further requires the notice to be given at least 15 days but no earlier than 30 days before the date the contract is to be automatically renewed. Adds additional language limiting the liability of the contract provisions, excluding entities regulated by the Federal Communications Commission under federal law or by the NC Utilities Commission under State law, or entities doing business under authorization issued by a political subdivision of the State or any agency thereof. Effective when bill becomes law, applying to contracts entered into on or after that date. 

Amends GS 105-277.4 concerning deferred taxes of agricultural, horticultural, and forest land, deleting language which provided that if a property lost its eligibility for present-use value classification because it was conveyed by gift to a nonprofit organization and qualifies for exclusion from the tax base, then no deferred taxes were due and the lien for deferred taxes was extinguished. 

Adds new provision to GS 105-277.4 concerning the conveyance of property eligible for present-use value classification to a nonprofit, providing that if the property qualifies for exclusion from the tax base, then deferred taxes are due as follows: (1) if the property is conveyed at or below present-use value, then no deferred taxes are due and the lien for the deferred taxes is extinguished or (2) if the property is conveyed for more than the present-use value, then a portion of the deferred tax for the preceding three fiscal years of deferred taxes will be due in accordance to the provisions in GS 105-277.1F. Sets out how to calculate the amount owed, either being equal to or lesser of the full amount deferred or the deferred amount multiplied by a fraction as specified. 

Effective for taxes imposed for taxable years beginning on or after July 1, 2016.

Amends GS 87-97 concerning permitting, inspection and testing of private drinking water wells, expanding the activities that are authorized per the permit, including authorizing certified well contractors to install, construct, maintain, or repair water pipes when running water pipes from the well to the water tank, and the installation of both water pipes and electrical wiring in a single ditch when running electrical wires from the well pump to the pressure switch and water pipes from the well to the water tank. Sets out requirements for the ditch as well and places the local health department in charge of inspecting the ditch and contents of the ditch. Also provides that when permits are issued under this section, then the local health department is responsible for notifying the appropriate building inspector of such issuance. Further directs the Building Code Council to amend the State Electrical Code and the State Plumbing Code to be consistent with this section. Effective October 1, 2016.

Amends GS 105-164.13E to lower the amount of income from farming operations (from $10,000 to $5,000) that is required in order for farmers to qualify for the sales tax exemption. Effective for taxes imposed for taxable years beginning on or after July 1, 2016.

Includes a severability clause.

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