AN ACT TO ALLOW MAGISTRATES TO WAIVE TRIALS FOR STATE FOREST RULE OFFENSES; TO EXEMPT CERTAIN FIRES FROM OPEN BURNING LAWS; TO MODIFY OVERTIME POLICY FOR THE NORTH CAROLINA FOREST SERVICE; AND TO CLARIFY THE USE OF FUNDS FOR CONSTRUCTION OF FOREST SERVICE HEADQUARTERS.
Amends GS 7A-273 to authorize magistrates to accept written appearances, waivers of trial or hearing and pleas, and enter judgment and collect fines or penalties and costs, for misdemeanor or infraction cases involving State forest rule offenses under Articles 74 and 75 of GS Chapter 106, which govern State forests including protection and fire control.
Enacts GS 106-950(c) to exclude from the open fire regulations set out in Article 78 any fires started or caused to be started for cooking, warming, or ceremonial events where the fire is confined within an enclosure from which the burning material cannot escape or within a protected areas upon which a watch is being maintained and which is provided with adequate fire protection equipment. Specifies that this exception does not apply when the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services has prohibited all open burning during periods of hazardous forest fire conditions or during air pollution episodes declared under Article 21B of GS Chapter 143.
Makes the above provisions effective December 1, 2021, and applicable to offenses committed on or after that date.
Amends GS 106-903 to authorize the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to alternatively provide compensatory leave at an hour for hour rate in lieu of the monetary overtime compensation requirement for professional employees of the Forest Service for overtime earned while conducting fire suppression duties, as defined in state law (previously, more generally required monetary overtime compensation for those described employees involved in fighting forest fires). Adds that compensatory leave must be provided in a manner consistent with State policies for exempt employees established by the Office of State Human Resources. Applies to overtime earned on or after the date the act becomes law.