Bill Summary for H 765 (2015-2016)

Summary date: 

Jun 30 2015

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
House Bill 765 (Public) Filed Tuesday, April 14, 2015
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FURTHER REGULATORY RELIEF TO THE CITIZENS OF NORTH CAROLINA BY PROVIDING FOR VARIOUS ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS, BY ELIMINATING CERTAIN UNNECESSARY OR OUTDATED STATUTES AND REGULATIONS AND MODERNIZING OR SIMPLIFYING CUMBERSOME OR OUTDATED REGULATIONS, AND BY MAKING VARIOUS OTHER STATUTORY CHANGES.
Intro. by McElraft.

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Bill summary

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

Retains provision from the 1st edition which amended GS 20-116, making clarifying and conforming changes to operation requirements and limitations concerning vehicles licensed for 7,500 pounds or less gross vehicle weight carrying specified loads. 

Amends the short and the long titles, and adds the following provisions to this act. 

Section 1.1

Repeals GS 14-197 (Using profane or indecent language on public highways; counties exempt) and GS 14-401.8 (Refusing to relinquish party telephone line in emergency; false statement of emergency).

Section 1.2

Enacts new GS 150B-25.1 to provide that the petitioner in a contested case has the burden of proving the facts alleged in the petition by a preponderance of the evidence. Places the burden on the state agency when the contested case involves the imposition of civil fines or penalties to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the person actually committed the act for which the fine or penalty was imposed. Places the burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that a career state employee subject to GS Chapter 126 was discharged, suspended, or demoted for just cause on the agency.

Requires the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee to study whether there are other categories of contested cases where the burned of proof should be placed with the agency. 

Provides that this section is effective when this act becomes law and applies to contested cases commenced on or after that date.

Section 1.3

Amends GS 120-121 by adding two new subsections, (e) and (f), regarding legislative appointments. Under subsection (e), when the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Speaker) or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate (President Pro Tem) is directed by law to make a recommendation for an appointment by the General Assembly and the legislator is also directed to make the recommendation in consultation or upon the recommendation of a third party, the following applies: (1) the recommendation or consultation is discretionary and not binding upon the legislator, (2) the third party must make the recommendation or consultation at least 60 days before the expiration of the term or within 10 business days from the occurrence of a vacancy, and (3) failure by the third party to submit the recommendation or consultation to the legislature within the required time periods are to be viewed as a waiver by the third party of the opportunity.

Provides that subsection (f) applies when the Speaker or the President Pro Tem is directed by law to make a recommendation for an appointment by the General Assembly and the legislator is also directed to make the recommendation from nominees provided by a third party. Under subsection (f), the third party must submit the nominees at least 60 days before the expiration of the term or within 10 business days from when the vacancy occurs; if the third party fails to submit the nomination to the legislator within the time periods required under this subsection, the failure to submit the nomination is deemed a waiver on the part of the third party.

Enacts new GS 120-124, Appointments made by legislators, to provide that in any case where a legislator is legally required to appoint a member to a board or commission on the recommendation or in consultation with a third party, the recommendation or consultation is discretionary and is not binding on the legislator. Requires the third party to submit the recommendation or consultation at least 60 days before the expiration of the term or within 10 business days from the occurrence of a vacancy. Provides that in any case where a legislator is legally required to appoint a member to a board or commission from nominees provided by a third party, the third party must submit the recommendation or consultation at least 60 days before the expiration of the term or within 10 business days from the occurrence of a vacancy. Provides that this subsection does not apply to nominations made under GS 120-99(a) (creation and composition of the Legislative Ethics Committee) nor under GS 120-100(b) (filling a vacancy on the Legislative Ethics Committee). Failure to submit the recommendation, consultation, or nomination within the time periods required under this section shall be deemed a waiver of the opportunity by the third party.

Makes this section effective when it becomes law and applies to recommendations, consultations, and nominations made on or after that date.

Section 1.4

Amends GS 6-19.1 regarding attorney's fees in certain actions involving the State (was, attorney's fees to parties appealing or defending against agency decisions). Specifies subsection (a) as pertaining to actions in which the State is not the prevailing party and deletes the requirement that the party must petition for attorney's fees within 30 days following the final disposition of the case and provide an affidavit to support the petition. Makes conforming changes.

Enacts new subsection (c) to GS 6-19.1 pertaining to when the State is the prevailing party. Directs the court to allow the State to recover reasonable attorney's fees and costs if the State is the prevailing party and the claim or issue involves one or both of the following: (1) contesting the State's ability to construct transportation improvements or (2) seeking relief based on environmental impact. Provides criteria for what constitutes reasonable attorney's fees. Declares that contracts between the law firm and named parties in the action to reimburse the law firm for attorney's fees are valid and enforceable. Requires the prevailing party to petition for the attorney's fees within 30 days following the final disposition of the case.

Requires that the petition be supported by an affidavit stating the basis for the request for attorney's fees. Requires the presiding judge to issue a written order that states the factual basis and amount of attorney's fees to be awarded. Defines "law firm" and "state" as the terms are used in this statute. Effective September 1, 2015, and applies to all actions or other proceedings filed on or after that date.

Section 1.5 

Enacts new GS 93B-8.2 prohibiting an occupational licensing board from contracting with or employing a person licensed by the board to serve as an investigator or inspector if the licensee is actively practicing in the profession or occupation the board has jurisdiction over. 

Section 1.6 

Amends GS 150B-21.3A concerning the readoption of existing rules to add that if a rule is amended to impose a less stringent burden on the regulated person, then the agency does not have to prepare a fiscal note. Effective when the section becomes law and applies to the periodic review of existing rules occurring on or after that date.

Section 1.7 

Requires the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee (APO) to review the recommendations made by the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee's report entitled "Occupational Licensing Agencies Should Not be Centralized, but Stronger Oversight is Needed," to determine the best way to accomplish the report's recommendations and to improve oversight of occupational licensing boards. Requires APO to consult with specified entities in conducting the review. Requires APO to propose legislation to the 2016 Session of the 2015 General Assembly.

Section 2.2 

Amends GS 143-143.10A, concerning criminal history checks for applicants for licensure as a manufactured home manufacturer, dealer, salesperson, or set-up contractor, to define applicant as a person applying for initial licensure as a salesperson or set-up contractor (removing manufacturer and dealer). Also specifies that applicants for initial licensure (was, for licensure) must consent to a criminal history record check. 

Section 2.3

Rewrites GS 97-2(2) which amends the definition of "employee" under the Workers' Compensation Act. Provides that "employee" does not include any person who is elected or appointed and empowered as an executive officer, director, or committee member under the charter, articles, or bylaws of a nonprofit corporation subject to GS Chapters 47A, 47C, 47F, 55A, or 59B or any organization that is exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, who performs only voluntary service for the nonprofit and receives no pay for that voluntary service other than reasonable reimbursement for expenses incurred in connection with the voluntary service. Provides additional specifications and criteria regarding determining the status of a person as an employee for purposes of the Workers' Compensation Act. Provides exceptions for volunteer firefighters, rescue squad members, and authorized pickup firefighters who are engaged in emergency fire suppression activities for specified state services. Also makes an exception for sworn members of auxiliary policy departments and senior members of the State Civil Air Patrol from these provisions.

Section 3.1 

Amends Subsection 6A.14(a) of SL 2011-145 to require that agencies report annually, instead of quarterly, on issues related to agency mobile phones.

Section 3.3

Amends GS 14-56 to add that it is not illegal for any person to break or enter any railroad car, motor vehicle, trailer, aircraft, boat, or other watercraft to provide assistance to a person inside the railroad car, motor vehicle, trailer, aircraft, boat, or other watercraft of any kind if: (1) the person acts in good faith to access a person inside the railroad car, motor vehicle, trailer, aircraft, boat, or watercraft to provide first aid or emergency health care treatment or because the person inside is in imminent danger; (2) it is reasonably apparent that the circumstances require prompt decisions and actions in medical, other health care, or other assistance; or (3) the necessity of immediate health care treatment or removal of the person is so reasonably apparent that any delay in the rendering of treatment or removal would seriously worsen the physical condition or endanger the life of the person.  Applies to offenses committed on or after September 1, 2015.

Section 3.4

Enacts new Article 43F, Immunity for Damage to Vehicle, in GS Chapter 1 to provide immunity from civil liability for damage done to a railroad car, motor vehicle, trailer, aircraft, boat, or other watercraft if one of the same three circumstances described in Section 3.3 above exist.  Applies to causes of action arising on or after September 1, 2015.

Section 3.5

Amends GS 20-84 to allow the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue a permanent license plate for a trailer used as an attachment to the rear of a motorcycle. Effective July 1, 2015.

Section 3.7

Amends GS 122C-81 to allow exempting a mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services provider that is accredited under the statute and in good standing with the national accrediting agency from routine monitoring that is duplicative of the national oversight. 

Section 3.8

Amends GS 130A-248 to provide that the issuance of a new permit or a transitional permit voids any previously issued permit for an establishment in that location.

Section 3.9

Enacts new GS 143-129 requiring a public entity (as defined) to consider all acceptable piping materials before determining which material should be used in conducting specified activities related to a water, wastewater, or stormwater drainage project if it is funded with state funds, unless sound engineering practices, as determined by a professional licensed engineer, suggest that one type is more suitable. Sets out definitions for acceptable piping material and public entity. Effective October 1, 2015, and applies to projects initiated on or after that date.

Section 3.10

Amends GS 146-33 to require that State agencies that contract with private individuals not employed by the State to mark or keep boundaries of land of that agency or land under its control use licensed professional engineers or surveyors to do so. Effective October 1, 2015.

Section 3.12

Amends the Underground Damage Prevention Review Board (Board) found in GS 87-129 as follows. Sets Board member terms at four years, and limits members to no more than two consecutive terms. Prohibits Board members from serving on a case where there would be a conflict of interest. Allows members to be removed by the Governor for cause. Establishes that eight members constitute a quorum, requires the Governor to designate a member as chair, and allows the Board to adopt rules. No longer requires the Board to meet quarterly. Removes language requiring the Board to act as an arbitrator between the parties. Requires the Board to review all reports of alleged violations and determine the appropriate action or penalty when the Board determines that a violation has occurred. Allows actions and penalties to include training, education and a maximum civil penalty of $2,500. Allows a person determined by the Board to have violated the Article to appeal the Board's determination by initiating an arbitration proceeding before the Utilities Commission (Commission) within 30 days of the Board's determination. Requires an appeal of the Commission's decision to be made within 30 days of entry of the Commission's order. Deletes the specified penalties for violations of the Article, and instead provides that in any arbitration proceeding before the Commission, any actions and penalties assessed against any person for violation of the Article must include the actions and penalties discussed above. 

Section 3.13

Amends GS 20-171.15 to make it illegal for a parent or legal guardian of a child less than six (was, eight) years old to knowingly allow the child to operate an all-terrain vehicle. No longer makes it illegal for a parent or legal guardian to knowingly allow a child less than 12 years old to operate an all-terrain vehicle with an engine capacity of 70 cubic centimeter displacement or greater. Instead, makes it illegal for a parent or legal guardian to knowingly allow a child less than 16 years old to operate an all-terrain vehicle in violation of the Age Restriction Warning Label affixed by the manufacturer (as, operate an all-terrain vehicle with an engine capacity greater than 90 cubic centimeter displacement). Makes conforming changes.

Amends GS 20-171.17 to prohibit knowingly selling or offering to sell an all-terrain vehicle in violation of the Age Restriction Warning Label affixed by the manufacturer for use by a person less than 16 years old. Makes conforming changes.

Section 4.1

Enacts new Part 7D in GS Chapter 8, Environmental Audit Privilege and Limited Immunity, to create an environmental audit privilege to protect the confidentiality of communications relating to voluntary internal environmental audits. Defines environmental audit. Applies to activities regulated under environmental laws including (1) Article 7 of GS Chapter 74; (2) GS Chapter 104E; (3) Article 25 of GS Chapter 113; (4) Articles 1, 4, and 7 of GS Chapter 113A; (5) Article 9 of GS Chapter 130A; (6) Articles 21, 21A, and 21B of GS Chapter 143; and (7) Part 1 of Article 7 of GS Chapter 143B. Makes an environmental audit report privileged and immune from discovery and provides that it is not admissible as evidence in civil or administrative proceedings instituted by an enforcement agency. Lists seven documents that are exempt from the privilege. Provides that the privilege does not apply to criminal investigations or proceedings.

Provides that the privilege does not apply to the extent that it is expressly waived in writing. Specifies persons to whom the audit report and information generated from the audit may be disclosed without waiving privilege. Specifies instances in which disclosure of the audit does not constitute a waiver.

Requires an owner or operator, in order to assert the privilege, to notify the enforcement agency of the existence of the audit no later than 10 working days after an agency completes an inspection.

Allows an enforcement agency to seek by motion a declaratory ruling on the issue of whether an environmental audit report is privileged in a civil or administrative proceeding. Sets forth the circumstances under which the privilege can be revoked.

Provides that a party asserting the privilege has the burden of providing that (1) the materials claimed as privileged constitute an environmental audit report and (2) compliance has been achieved or will be within a reasonable period of time. A party seeking disclosure has the burden of providing the condition for disclosure.

Provides that the owner or operator of a facility is immune from imposition of civil and administrative penalties and fines for a violation of environmental laws voluntarily disclosed. The waiver of penalties and fines is not granted until the agency has certified that the violation was corrected within a reasonable period of time. Specifies conditions that must be met in order for a disclosure to be considered voluntary. Specifies factors that make a disclosure nonvoluntary. A voluntary disclosure is subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act.

Provides that an owner or operator of a facility who makes a voluntary disclosure of a violation of environmental laws discovered through performance of an environmental audit is only entitled to exercise the privilege or immunity once in a two-year period, no more than twice in a five-year period, and no more than three times in a ten-year period.

Prohibits local laws, rules, ordinances, or permit conditions that circumvent or limit the privilege or the exercise of the privileges or the presumption and immunity established.

Effective July 1, 2015, and applies to environmental audits conducted on or after that date.

Section 4.2

Repeals Chapter GS 130A, Article 9, Part 2H (concerning recycling of discarded computer equipment and televisions) and GS 130A-309.09A(d)(8) (concerning  a requirement to include information on permanent recycling programs for discarded computer equipment and televisions in specified reports).

Section 4.3

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 by the US Environmental Protection Agency 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.

Section 4.4 through 4.6A

Requires the Environmental Management Commission (Commission) to revise its permanent rules and in the meantime implement specified rules as prohibiting the Commission from adopting specified new federal standards except by a three-fifths vote of the Commission. These standards include New Source Performance Standards, Maximum Achievable Control Technology standards, and National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. Provides that these provisions will expire on the date that the required substantively identical permanent rules are adopted. 

Prohibits the Commission from enforcing previously adopted federal New Source Performance Standards, Maximum Achievable Control Technology Standards, and National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants until the Commission readopts the standards using the above process.

Prohibits enforcing any federal standard adopted by reference pursuant to the New Source Performance Standards, Maximum Achievable Control Technology, or National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants effective January 1, 2016.

Section 4.7

Amends GS 130A-310.65 concerning the criteria that must be met for real property to be considered a contaminated industrial site, deleting language that specified a criteria that no contaminant associated with the activities at the property is located off of the property at the time a remedial action plan is submitted.  Adds language that provides that no contaminant associated with activities at the property will migrate to any adjacent properties above unrestricted  use standards for the contaminant, after the industrial site has been remediated as required. Further provides in GS 130A-310.67 that the provisions of Part 8 of Article 9 of GS Chapter 130A, Risk-Based Environmental Remediation of Industrial Sites, do not apply to the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014. Removes the provision limiting the application of the Part to sites where a discharge, spill, or release was reported before March 1, 2011. Amends GS 130A-310.69, concerning remedial action plans, making a clarifying change.  Amends GS 130A-310.71 concerning the review and approval of remedial action plans by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), providing that when such review is undertaken to determine whether it has been demonstrated that contamination will not migrate to adjacent property, it must be demonstrated that no migration will occur at levels above unrestricted use standards after the industrial site has been remediated pursuant to the plan (previously, did not specify that it had to be demonstrated on such standards after the site has been remediated). Adds an additional requirement for DENR when reviewing and approving remedial action plans, requiring DENR to determine whether the proposed remedial action plan has adequately provided for remediation of environmental contamination on the adjacent properties to unrestricted use standards, in regards to industrial sites where contaminants have migrated to adjacent properties. Expands the burdens of people proposing remedial action plans requiring them to also demonstrate with reasonable assurance that (1) contamination associated with activities of the industrial site that has migrated to adjacent properties will be remediated to unrestricted use standards and (2) that contamination from the site will not migrate to adjacent property above unrestricted use standards after the site has been remediated pursuant to the plan (previously, required to demonstrate that it will not migrate to adjacent property above unrestricted use levels). Enacts new GS 130A-310.68A concerning unrestricted use standards required for contamination on adjacent properties, requiring remediation of contamination on adjacent properties to meet unrestricted use standards on those properties.  Makes technical and clarifying changes.

Section 4.8

Directs DENR, no later than January 1, 2016, to (1) develop consistent internal process to govern remediation of contaminated industrial sites, (2) develop coordinated programs and processes for remediation of contaminated industrial sites subject to multiple programs or requirements, and (3) develop reforms to expand the role and enhance the use registered environmental consultants approved to implement and oversee voluntary remedial actions. Requires DENR to report to the Environmental Review Commission on the above activities and efforts by April 1, 2016.

Section 4.9

Amends GS 130A-310.31 to amend the definition of prospective developer by deleting all the provisions of the definition and providing that a prospective developer now includes  bonafide prospective purchasers, contiguous property owners, and innocent landowners as those terms are defined in the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act. Effective July 1, 2015, applying to Notices of Intent to Redevelop a Brownfields Property filed on or after that date.

Section 4.10

Repeals GS 105-102.6, concerning incentives for the recycling of newsprint and magazines and for the use of newsprint that contains recycled content.

Repeals GS 130A-309.17(d) and (i), concerning fees for the registration of persons transporting, collecting, or recycling used oil.

Section 4.11

Amends GS 143-64.12 to no longer require energy audits to be conducted.

Section 4.12

Repeals GS 113-175.6, no longer requiring the annual report on the Marine Resources Fund and the Endowment Fund.

Amends GS 113-182.1 to no longer require a report on the development and implementation of fishery management plans.

Repeals GS 143B-279.15 to no longer require reporting on the One-Stop for Certain Environmental Permits Program.

Repeals GS 143B-289.44(d) to no longer require the report on the North Carolina Aquariums Fund.

Repeals GS 159I-29 to no longer require reports on loans made from the Solid Waste Management Loan Fund.

Repeals Section 2.3 of SL 2007-485 to no longer require the report on waterfront access.

Section 4.14

Amends GS 130A-334, definitions for GS Chapter 130A, Article 11, Wastewater Systems, adding and defining the following terms: accepted wastewater system, conventional wastewater system, licensed soil scientist, private option permit, and professional engineer.  

Amends GS 130A-335 to add that any proposed site for a residence, business, or place of public assembly located in an area not served by an approved wastewater system for which a new system is proposed may be evaluated for soil conditions and site features by a licensed soil scientist. Allows wastewater systems to conform with the private option permit criteria in new 130A-336.1 under the rules adopted by the Commission for Public Health (Commission), instead of being regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) under rules adopted by the Commission. Requires the rules adopted by the Commission for approval under the private option permit criteria to be as stringent as the rules for wastewater systems established by the Commission. Adds that the Department or an owner of a wastewater system can file complaints with the NC Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors and the NC Board of Licensed Soil Scientists.

Enacts new GS 130A-336.1 allowing a professional engineer to, under the legal authority of an owner of a proposed wastewater system who wishes to use the private option permit, to prepare drawings, specifications, plans, and reports for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the system. Requires, before constructing, siting, or relocating a wastewater system, when using the private option permit, to submit a notice of intent with the local health department.  Specifies items that must be included on the form which is to be developed by the Department, including a copy of the owner’s contract with the professional engineer, liability insurance with a limit of no less than $1 million per claim as specified, and a soil evaluation.

Requires local health departments to determine whether a notice of intent to construct is completed within 14 days after the local health department has received the notice of intent to construct. Sets out processes for evaluating completeness and for the submittal of additional information for review.  Requires owners of a proposed wastewater system or professional engineer who is a legal representative of the owner and wishes to use the private option permit, to provide copies of the notice of intent to construct prior to construction, siting, or relocation of a wastewater system that (1) collects, treats, and disposes of industrial process wastewater or that (2) treats greater than 3,000 gallons per day.

Sets out requirements of the professional engineer or owner in regards to site design, construction, and activities. Establishes liability that attaches to the licensed soil scientist, the professional engineer, and the owner of the wastewater system. Requires the professional engineer designing the system to establish a written operations and management program, and to hold a postconstruction conference with specified parties that includes startup of the system and any required verification of system design or components. Sets out requirements concerning documentation and recordkeeping.

Requires the system operator to give the local health department specified documentation and information, upon which the local health department must issue the owner a letter of confirmation stating that the documents and information have been received and that the wastewater system may operate. Allows the local health department to assess a fee of up to 10% of the fee for an improvement permit and specifies the allowable uses of the fee. Requires the Commission to adopt rules to conform to the statute. Requires the Department to report to the Environmental Review Commission and the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services annually, beginning January 1, 2017, on the implementation and effectiveness of the statute and specifies information to be included in the initial report.

Makes conforming changes to GS 130A-338 and GS 130A-339.

Requires the Commission for Public Health, in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Service, local health departments and stakeholders of the wastewater system industry, to study the minimum on site wastewater system inspection frequency to evaluate the feasibility and desirability of eliminating duplicative inspections, taking into consideration specified factors. Requires a report to the Environmental Review Commission and the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services by January 1, 2016.

Amends GS 130A-336 to provide that professional engineers or licensed soil scientists can also evaluate proposed sites, as specified, for a residence, place of business, or place of public assembly in an area not served by an approved wastewater system. Also requires the improvement permit and the authorization for wastewater system construction to remain valid without expiration if the design wastewater flow and characteristics and the description of the proposed facility the system will serve remain unchanged.

Requires local health departments to maintain a database of proposed wastewater systems that have received both the improvement permit and construction authorization but no further activity has been undertaken as specified. Provides that if a local health department repeatedly fails to issue or deny improvement permits for provisional or innovative systems within 90 days after receiving applications, then Department of Environment and Natural Resources may withhold public health funding from that local health department.

Amends GS 130A-342 to require a permitted system with a design flow of less than 1,500 gallons per day to be operated by Subsurface Water pollution Control System Operator as specified and allows additional standards to be established for a system that has a design flow of 1,500 gallons or greater per day.

Makes technical and clarifying changes.

Provides that this section is effective when it becomes law and provides that the Commission for Public Health must adopt or amend rules as specified in Section 4.14(a) through (e) by no later than June 1, 2016. Provides that the private permit option cannot be utilized until the rules specified in Section 4.14(c) become effective.

Section 4.15            

Amends GS 130A-343 by amending the definitions of accepted wastewater dispersal system (was, accepted wastewater system), provisional wastewater system (was, controlled demonstration wastewater system), conventional wastewater system, and innovate wastewater system. Deletes the term experimental wastewater system and adds the term nationally recognized certification body. Requires the Commission to adopt rules for the approval and permitting of innovative, conventional, provisional, and accepted wastewater systems (was, experimental, controlled demonstration, innovative, and accepted wastewater systems). Requires notification to the local health department within 30 days of modification or revocation of an approval of a wastewater system or system component. Deletes all provisions concerning experimental systems. Amends the provisions concerning controlled demonstration systems to make the applicable to provisional systems and makes the following changes. Allows a manufacturer of a wastewater system to apply to have the system provisionally approved for use in the state. Requires any system approved based on its approval by a nationally recognized certification body to be designed and installed in a manner consistent with the system evaluated and approved by that body. Requires the proposal to include procedures for obtaining specified information necessary to achieve innovative status upon completion of the provisional status. Requires the applications for provisional systems based on approval by a nationally recognized certification be approved within 90 days. Specifies the process for applying for innovative system status. Requires the Department to notify the manufacturer to items needed to complete the application or that the application is complete, within 30 days of receiving the application. Requires the Department to approve or deny the application within 90 days (was, 180 days) after receiving a completed application. Makes conforming changes. Provides that a manufacturer of an innovative wastewater dispersal system that has been in general use in the state for a minimum of (was, for more than) five years to petition to have the system designated as an accepted system. Adds specifics to the items that the manufacturer must provide to the Commission concerning prior evaluation of the performance of the system. Allows the Department to initiate a review of a nonproprietary wastewater system and approve the system as a provisional wastewater system or an innovative wastewater system without having received an application from the manufacturer. Deletes the provision requiring warranty in specified circumstances. Makes conforming changes.

Requires the Commission for Public Health to review and amend its rules to conform to the section.

Provides that beginning October 1, 2015, and quarterly thereafter as specified, the Commission for Public Health must submit written reports to the Environmental Review Commission and the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services concerning progress on adopting or amending rules specified in Sections 4.14 and 4.15 of the act.

Requires the Commission for Public Health, in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services, local health departments, and stakeholders of the wastewater system industry, to study the costs and benefits of requiring treatment standards greater than those listed by nationally recognized standards and report to the Environmental Review Commission and the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services on or before January 1, 2016.

Section 4.17

Amends GS 143-215.108 concerning the commencing of a contested case due to a decision of the Commission for Public Health, deleting provisions which previously provided for a petition procedure for an aggrieved third-party and enacting a new subsection (e1) providing a petition procedure for any person other than a permit applicant or permittee that has been aggrieved by a decision made by the Commission for Public Health, allowing a contested case to be commenced if filed by petition within 30 days after the Commission for Public Health has provided notice of its decision on a permit application or posted the decision on a publicly available website.  Provides that petitions filed by permit applicants or permittees will stay the decision but petitions filed by individuals other than applicants or permitees will not stay the decision.

Section 4.18

Provides that for the purposes of implementing Section .1300 of Subchapter 2H of Chapter 2 of Title 15A of the North Carolina Administrative Code (Discharges to Isolated Wetlands and Isolated Waters), the isolated wetlands provisions of Section .1300 applies only to a Basin Wetland or Bog and no other wetland types as described in the North Carolina Wetland Assessment User Manual prepared by the North Carolina Wetland Functional Assessment Team, version 4.1 October 2010, that are not jurisdictional wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act. Specifies that the isolated wetlands provisions of Section .1300 do not apply to an isolated man‑made ditch or pond constructed for stormwater management purposes, any other man‑made isolated pond, or any other type of isolated wetland, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources must not regulate such water bodies under Section .1300. Allows the Environmental Management Commission to adopt rules to amend Section .1300 of Subchapter 2H of Chapter 2 of Title 15A of the North Carolina Administrative Code consistent with these provisions. Amends Section 54 of SL 2014-120 to amend the conditions that apply to the implementation of 15A NCAC 02H .1305 (Review of Applications) as follows: (1) adds that mitigation requirements for impacts to isolated wetlands only apply to the amount of impact exceeding the established thresholds, (2) deletes the provision defining isolated wetlands, and (3) adds that impacts to isolated wetlands must not be combined with the project impacts to jurisdictional wetlands or streams for the purpose of determining when impact thresholds that trigger a mitigation requirement are met. These changes expire on the date that the Environmental Management Commission fulfills the requirement to adopt rules that are consistent with the changes made in Section 54 of SL 2014-120.  Effective when the section becomes law. 

Section 4.19

Amends Section 2(b) of SL 2008-211 concerning requirements for nonresidential and residential development in coastal counties, deleting language that provided that the provisions of this section apply to nonresidential development activities that are adding more than 10,000 square feet of built upon area, removing the size threshold.  Deletes language that required certain development near Outstanding Resource Waters to meet the requirements of 15A NCAC 02H .1007, specified stormwater requirements.  Further amends low-density and high-density development option requirements for development near Outstanding Resource Waters, allowing such low-density development if the development has a built upon area of 24% or less (was, 12% or less) and high-density development if the development has a built upon area greater than 24% (was, 12% or less). Amends the criteria for when a nonrenewable storm water management permit must be obtained for residential development in the coastal counties that is located within one-half mile and draining to Class SA water, to require a built upon area greater than 24% (was, 12%).  Repeals local government designations as Phase 2 within the Coastal Counties as necessary to comply with federal stormwater management requirements.  Effective January 1, 2016.

Section 4.21

Enacts new GS 62-351, Exempt linear utility projects from certain environmental regulations, providing that, except as required by federal law, activities related to the construction, maintenance, or removal of a linear utility project is exempt from regulation by an agency authorized to implement and enforce State and federal environmental laws.  Sets out nine entities that are to be considered as “by an agency authorized to implement and enforce State and federal environmental laws," including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Wildlife Resources Commission. 

Section 4.24

Directs the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (Secretary) to repeal 15A-NCAC 02D .1010 (Heavy-Duty Vehicle Idling Restrictions) on or before December 1, 2015. Provides that until the effective date as required under this section that the Secretary, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Environmental Management Commission (EMC), nor any other political subdivision of the state is to implement or enforce 15A NCAC 02D .1010.

Section 4.25

Directs DENR to review its ambient air monitoring network and in its next annual monitoring network plan submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to request the removal of any ambient air monitors not required by federal laws and regulations. Directs DENR to discontinue, no later than September 1, 2016, all ambient monitors not required by federal laws and regulations if approval from the EPA is not required for the discontinuance. Provides that the provisions of this section do not prevent DENR from installing temporary ambient air monitors as a part of an investigation of suspected violations of air quality rules, standards, or limitations or as a response to an emergency situation threatening human health and safety. Requires the Division of Air Quality, DENR, to report on the status of the ambient air monitoring network and the implementation of the requirements of this section to the Environmental Review Commission (ERC) no later than November 1, 2016.

Section 4.27

Amends GS 143-215.110 to provide that upon exercising its authority to enter into consent orders by agreement with the party responsible for pollution of the air, the ERC must provide notice of a proposed consent order to the proper state interstate, and federal agencies to interested persons and to the public at least 30 days (was, 45) prior to any final action regarding the consent order. Provides that public notice is to be given by publication of the notice for 30 days on the regulatory agency’s web site (was, public notice by one time publication in a newspaper with general circulation in the county in which the pollution originated). Also provides that notices of a public meeting must also be published on the agency web site for 30 days (was, public notice by one time publication in a newspaper with general circulation in the county in which the pollution originated).

Section 4.29

Amends GS 143-254.5 regarding social security and identifying information obtained by the Wildlife Resources Commission, and amends GS 143B-289.52(h) regarding social security numbers and identifying information obtained by the Marine Fisheries Commission or the Division of Marine Fisheries, to include e-mail addresses as personal identifying information covered under the disclosure protections provided in GS 132-1.10.

Section 4.30

Directs the EMC to amend its rules for water quality certifications (15A NCAC 2H .0501 through 2H .0507) by increasing thresholds for mitigation of linear stream impacts. Directs the EMC to adopt temporary rules to implement this section no later than September 30, 2015. Also directs the EMC to adopt permanent rules to implement this section.

Section 4.31

Enacts new GS 143-214.7C, Prohibit the requirement of mitigation for impacts to intermittent streams, providing that unless otherwise required by federal law and notwithstanding state law, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) cannot require mitigation for impacts to intermittent streams. Sets out and defines intermittent stream for the purposes of the statute, including that such a stream contains water for only part of the year. Requires DENR and the Environmental Management Commission to amend their administrative rules to come into compliance with the above provisions. 

Section 4.32

Amends GS 113-129(15a) to authorize the Wildlife Resources Commission, except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, to by regulation identify specific birds or classes of birds that are excluded from the definition of wild birds based on the need for protection or regulation in the interests of conservation of wildlife resources. Identifies pigeons as wild birds.

Section 4.33

Directs the Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) to review its methods and criteria for determining the status of animals on the state protected animal list as defined in GS 113-331 and compare them to federal regulations and the methods and criteria of other states in the region. Also directs the WRC to study the policies used by the state to address introduced species and to make recommendations for improving these polices, including the impacts associated with hybridization among federally listed, state-listed, and nonlisted animals. Requires the WRC to report its findings and recommendations to the ERC by March 1, 2016.

Directs the WRC to establish a coyote management plan to address the impact of coyotes in this state and threats that they pose. Requires the WRC to report its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation to address overpopulation of coyotes to the ERC by March 1, 2016.

Directs the WRC to establish a pilot coyote management program in Mitchell County. Requires the WRC to submit an interim report on the pilot program’s progress to the ERC by March 1, 2016, and to submit a final report, including any proposed legislation, to the ERC by January 1, 2017.

Section 4.36

Enacts new GS 114-8.7 requiring the Attorney General to establish the "NC Pets We Care Hotline" (hotline) to receive reports of allegations of animal cruelty or violations of the Animal Welfare Act against privately owned animals. Provides that the reports may be submitted by telephone, e-mail, and Internet. Requires the Attorney General to periodically publicize the hotline contact information. Requires any individual who makes a report to disclose his or her name and telephone number and any other information that the Attorney General may require. Requires allegations that the Attorney General determines may involve cruelty to animals under private ownership to be referred to the appropriate local animal control authority for the unit or units of local government within which the violations are alleged to have occurred.

Requires that allegations which the Attorney General determines may involve violations of the Animal Welfare Act be referred to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Requires the Attorney General to record the total number of reports received and the number of reports received against any individual.

Amends GS 7A-304 to add a $250 court fee for support in the investigation of violations of Article 47 (Cruelty to Animals) of GS Chapter 14 and Animal Welfare act violations, to be remitted to the general fund of the local governmental that investigated the crime to be used for local law enforcement. Effective January 1, 2016, and applies to fees assessed or collected on or after that date. 

Section 4.37

Changes the date by which the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) must adopt rules implementing a fast-track permitting for stormwater management systems to November 1, 2016 (was, July 1, 2016). Amends GS 143-214.7 to make the provisions of subsection (b2) applicable to the implementation of state stormwater programs and local stormwater programs approved under subsection (d) of the statute. Expands on the requirements that apply to those programs by adding four new provisions concerning vegetative buffers, the calculation of the difference in stormwater runoff from the pre- and post-development conditions, development in a vegetative buffer, and development around Class SA waters. Provides that local and state stormwater program reviewed by the EMC may be approved only if the EMC finds that that the standards of the program equal (was, equal or exceed) those of the model program adopted by the EMC under this section and any other model program or regulatory requirement applied to local governments by the EMC.

Requires, no later than January 1, 2016, that a state agency or local government that implements a stormwater management program approved under GS 143-214.7(d) submit its current stormwater management program or a revised stormwater management program to the EMC. Requires the EMC, no later than July 1, 2016, to review and act on each of the submitted stormwater management programs in accordance with subsection (d) of GS 143-214.7, as amended. Requires the EMC, with the assistance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to review the current status of state statutes, session laws, rules, and guidance documents related to the management of stormwater in the state and examine whether anything needs to be recodified or reorganized in order to clarify state law for the management of stormwater. Requires the EMC to submit any legislative recommendations to the 2016 Regular Session of the 2015 General Assembly.

Section 4.38

Directs the Department of Insurance, the Department of Public Safety, and the Building Code Council to jointly study how flood elevation and building height requirements are established and measured in the state’s coastal region. Requires that the study specifically consider how flood elevation and building height requirements affect flood insurance rates and how height calculations may be made more consistent and uniform in order to provide flood insurance relief. Directs the Departments and Council to engage a broad group of stakeholders in conducting this study. Requires the Departments and the Council to jointly submit the results of their study, including any legislative recommendations, to the 2015 General Assembly no later than January 1, 2016.

Section 5.1 and 5.2

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.

Provides that except as otherwise provided, this act is effective when it becomes law.

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