Bill Summary for S 355 (2023-2024)

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Summary date: 

Jun 5 2024

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2023-2024 Session
Senate Bill 355 (Public) Filed Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Intro. by Jackson.

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Bill summary

House committee substitute to the 1st edition removes the content of the previous edition and replaces it with the following. Makes conforming changes to the act’s titles.

Part I.

Section 1

Amends GS 106-581.1 by including in the definition of the terms agriculture, agricultural, and farming, as used in the Agricultural Development Act, to include the boarding of horses. Amends GS 106-70 by including in the definition of the term agricultural operation, as used in Article 57 of GS Chapter 106 (Nuisance Liability of Agricultural and Forestry Operations), the rearing, feeding, training, caring, boarding, and managing of horses. Amends GS 113A-52.01 to exclude from the Sedimentation Pollution Control Act of 1973 land-disturbing activities that include the production and activities relating or incident to the rearing, feeding, training, caring, boarding, and managing of horses. Amends GS 122D-3 by amending the definition of agriculture as it is used in the North Carolina Agricultural Finance Act so that it includes the rearing, feeding, training, caring, boarding, and managing of horses.

Section 2

Amends GS 106-1068, which concerns the Commissioner of Agriculture’s (Commissioner) powers related to regulating and promoting North Carolina sweetpotatoes as follows. Specifies that participation in the statute’s branding program is voluntary. Changes the entity that the Commissioner must consult with in setting the royalty or licensing fee for using the North Carolina sweetpotato trademark from representatives of the sweetpotato industry and the Marketing Division of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (Department) to the North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission (Commission). Now requires the Board of Agriculture to consult with the Commission when adopting rules related to: (1) sweetpotato marketing, and now includes rules for use of the trademark created for the voluntary branding program and (2) a registration, inspection, and verification program for the production and marketing of North Carolina sweetpotatoes and now requires use of the trademark created for the voluntary branding program. Limits which sweetpotatoes must conform to the prescribed standards and grades and that must be labeled accordingly to those that are sold in connection with the voluntary branding program. Allows the Commissioner and his agents and employees to enter any property where sweetpotatoes marketed or labeled, or intended to be marketed or labeled, using the trademark created for the voluntary branding program are produced, stored, sold, offered for sale, packaged for sale, transported, or delivered, to inspect the sweetpotatoes (was, property where sweetpotatoes are produced, stored, sold, offered for sale, packaged for sale, transported, or delivered). Adds the requirement that the Commission: (1) render advice on the exercise of the Commissioner’s authority under this statute and (2) provide advice and recommendations to the Commissioner on plant pest regulatory issues affecting sweetpotatoes, which the Commissioner has regulatory jurisdiction over. Makes technical changes.

Makes conforming repeals of: (1) GS 106-1066(3), which defined the North Carolina Sweetpotato Quality and Branding Advisory Council (Council) and (2) GS 106-1070, which established the Council to render advice upon the Commissioner's request regarding the exercise of the Commissioner's authority under GS 106‑1068.

Section 3

Amends GS 106-798, which prohibits transporting live swine on a public road within the State unless the swine has an official form of identification approved by the State Veterinarian, to subject violators to criminal penalties under GS Chapter 113 (Conservation and Development) instead of the Article’s civil penalties. Repeals GS 106-789.1, which set a fine of $5,000 for failure to obtain the required identification.

Amends GS 113-129 to include live swine that is not transported with the required identification in the definition of feral swine.

Amends GS 113-291.12 as follows. Adds the NCGA’s finding that feral swine are an invasive species and are deemed destructive to property and to be a potential safety or health risk to people, livestock, and other native wildlife. Now requires authorization from the Wildlife Resources Commission to legally remove feral swine from a trap while the swine is still alive or to transport live feral swine (was, illegal to remove feral swine from a trap while still alive or to transport the live swine after removal). Makes conforming changes.

Amends the punishment for violations of GS 113-291.12  under GS 113-294(s) so that it is now a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of no less than $1,000 for a first offense and a Class A1 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of no less than $5,000 or $500 per feral swine, whichever is greater, for second and subsequent offenses (was, only a Class 2 misdemeanor punished by a fine of no less than $250). Makes conforming changes so that this penalty also applies to the illegal transportation of live feral swine.

Amends GS 113-276.3 to require suspension of a person’s license for one year for conviction of a second violation of GS 113-294(s); also requires permanent revocation upon conviction for a third violation.

Applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2024.

Section 4

Requires the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission, with input from the specified entities, to collect information on communication lines that fall below the minimum height requirement and create a public safety hazard, particularly to agricultural operations. Requires a report before the convening of the 2025 Regular Session of the General Assembly.

Section 5

Amends Section 3(c) and 3(d) of SL 2019-37 as follows. Requires that only shellfish bottom leases (was, shellfish bottom leases and franchises for shellfish cultivation recognized under GS 113-206) be terminated unless they meet the specified standards. Requires that the rule to amend the Shellfish Production Requirements Rule so that it is consistent with SL 2019-37, Section 3(c), be adopted by July 1, 2024 (was, no specified deadline).

Amends GS 113-202 to deem an application for a shellfish cultivation lease to be approved if the Secretary fails to act on the application within 365 days after the applicant has submitted all information required by the rules of the Marine Fisheries Commission and accurately marked the proposed lease area.

Part II.

Section 6

Limits providing soil testing services by the Commissioner to in-state soil samples under GS 106-22. Also requires the Commissioner, by and with the consent and advice of the Board of Agriculture, to provide soil testing during peak season (was, in-state soil testing during peak season and out-of state soil testing with no timing restrictions) and sets the minimum fee for soil testing during peak season at $4 (removes the $5 fee for out-of state soil testing).

Section 7

Amends Section 12.5(b) of SL 2018-5 by amending the use of the funds appropriated to the Bioenergy Research Initiative to allow all of the funds (was, no more than 50% of the funds) to be used for advancement and promotion of new and emerging crops and expands upon the allowable purposes to include any other research initiatives related to agricultural technologies.

Section 8

Repeals Section 10.9 of SL 2021-180, which requires fund appropriated to the North Carolina Forest Service for prescribed burning grants to be used to support prescribed burns on privately owned forestlands that will maximize the benefits under GS Chapter 106, Article 80, and sets out eligibility and reporting requirements.

Enacts new GS 106-977 establishing the Prescribed Burning Cost Share Program (Program), implemented and supervised by the North Carolina Forest Services, to support prescribed burns on privately owned forestlands that will maximize benefits under GS Chapter 106, Article 80. Sets out requirements for the program including setting the maximum reimbursement rates. Makes state funds for the Program available until expended. Sets out provisions governing the use of the Program’s appropriations. Allows for a Forest Service Prescribed Burning Coordinator and sets out the position’s duties. Requires a report on the Program's implementation by January 15 of each even-numbered year to the chairs of the specified NCGA committee and division. Effective July 1, 2025.

Section 9

Amends GS 146-30 by expanding upon the allowable uses of the net proceeds derived from the sale of timber and other products of land owned by or under the Department's control deposited in accounts to the Department's credit to also allow the proceeds to be used for capital improvement projects, costs incidental to the acquisition of land, and for the management of the plan conservation program preserves owned by the Department.

Section 10

Amends Section 10.8(e) of SL 2021-180 by amending the requirements for financial assistance for swine and dairy producers for losses incurred as a result of termination of contracts or ceased production due to the COVID-19 pandemic to increase the maximum assistance for upgrades to existing barns or rebuilding of animal housing at $70 per head space for sow housing (and $10 per head space for renovation to all other animal housing and $20 per head space for rebuilt animal housing), with no award exceeding 90% of the actual costs of the renovation or construction.

Section 11

Requires funds appropriated for Go Global to be used to establish an endowment administered by the North Carolina Community Foundation, Inc., to provide scholarships for the Global Teacher Fellowship program with a focus on agricultural teachers. Requires each fellowship to be approved by the Commissioner. Requires an annual report to the chairs of the specified NCGA committees and specifies information that must be included in the report.

Part III.

Section 12

Amends GS 106-645 (limitations on local government regulation of hives) so that a local government can only adopt ordinances to regulate hives within its incorporated limits (was, within the land use planning jurisdiction of the city).  

Section 13

Adds new GS 153-462, which requires any geographic information system (GIS) offered to the public by a county to bear a prominent disclaimer that must be acknowledged by the user before using the system notifying the user that the data offered by the tool is provided without warranty and that the user should consult public primary information sources, such as recorded deeds and plats, to verify the accuracy of the data provided. Requires cities to provide the same disclaimer under new GS 160A-499.7. Effective January 1, 2025.

Section 14

Limits county and city authority to fix and enforce stormwater utility fees under GS 153A-277(a1) (counties) and GS 160A-314(a1) (cities) so that they cannot impose those fees on property used for bona fide farm purposes.

Part IV.

Section 15

Reenacts GS 105-130.34 (concerning tax credits for certain real property donations by C-Corporations) and GS 105-151.12 (concerning tax credits for certain real property donations), as they existed before their expiration and repeal, respectively. Amends the qualifying uses of the real property as follows: (1) forestland or farmland preservation; (2) fish and wildlife conservation; (3) as a buffer to limit land use activities that would restrict, impede, or interfere with military training, testing, or operations on a military installation or training area or otherwise be incompatible with the mission of the installation; (4) for floodplain protection in a county that, in the five years preceding the donation, was the subject of a Type II or Type III gubernatorial disaster declaration, as a result of a natural disaster; (5) for historic landscape conservation; or (6) for public trails or access to public trails (was, (i) public beach access or use, (ii) public access to public waters or trails, (iii) fish and wildlife conservation, (iv) forestland or farmland conservation, (v) watershed protection, (vi) conservation of natural areas, (vii) conservation of natural or scenic river areas, (viii) conservation of predominantly natural parkland, or (ix) historic landscape conservation). Changes agency with specified duties from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR). Adds subdivision headings. Recodifies GS 105-151.12 to GS 105-151.11 and specifies that any portion of a qualifying donation under the statute is not eligible for deduction as a charitable contribution under GS 130-130.9. Removes outdated language.  Effective for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2024.

Section 16

Enacts new GS 103-18 establishing the third Saturday of October as NC Great Trails State Day (Day) beginning in October 2024. Designates the NC Great Trails State Coalition (Coalition) as the lead organization for recognition of the Day. Requires the Coalition to consult DNCR in developing the required plan to promote and implement the Day. Requires the Coalition to report on the plan to the specified NCGA committee by September 30, 2024.

Section 17

Expands the NC Sentinel Landscapes Committee (SLC) in GS 106-747 from five members to seven voting members and two ex officio members. Adds the Secretary of Transportation or designee and a representative of the NC Sentinel Landscapes Partnership as voting members.  Designates the Eastern NC Sentinel Landscapes Coordinator and a representative from the US Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program as ex officio members. Removes outdated language. Clarifies that the appointment of members by the SLC chair can only occur upon majority vote by the voting members. Makes conforming and organizational changes.

Section 18

Expands the membership of the Community Conservation Assistance Program Advisory Committee under GS 106-860 to include the Extension Administrator of the Cooperative Extension Service at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University or the Extension Administrator's designee.

Section 19

Expands the institutes of higher education empowered to cooperate with the Agricultural Extension Service and committees under GS 106-583 (cooperation of departments and agencies with the Agricultural Extension Service) to include the College of Agriculture and Environmental Services at NC Agricultural and Technical State University (the College).  Makes conforming changes to GS 106-92.7 (registration of brands) and GS 106-851 (program participation). Authorizes the dean of the College to appoint a member to the Structural Pest Control Committee under GS 106-65.23. Makes technical and clarifying changes.

Section 20

Changes the entities that the Board of Crop Seed Improvement (BCSI) must cooperate with so they now include the NC Agricultural Research Service of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NCSU (the Service) and the NC Agricultural Research Service of the College.  Expands membership of the BCSI under GS 106-270 (BCSI membership) to include the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NCSU, the Dean of the College, and the associate dean of the College. Updates the statute to reflect new college names and new Department of Agriculture division names. Expands BCSI membership under GS 106-277.32 from five to nine members. Makes conforming changes to reflect additional academic appointees under GS 106-270.  Allows for appointment of two at-large members. 

Section 21

Increases the application deadline for a carnival permit under GS 106-516.1 from the 30 days before the regularly advertised agricultural fair to 90 days before such fair.  Applies to permits issued on or after July 1, 2024.

Part V.

Section 22

Contains a severability clause.