Bill Summary for S 734 (2013-2014)

Summary date: 

May 21 2014

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2013-2014 Session
Senate Bill 734 (Public) Filed Wednesday, May 14, 2014
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THE CITIZENS OF NORTH CAROLINA BY PROVIDING FOR VARIOUS ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS, BY ELIMINATING CERTAIN UNNECESSARY OR OUTDATED STATUTES AND REGULATIONS AND MODERNIZING OR SIMPLIFYING CUMBERSOME OR OUTDATED REGULATIONS, AND BY MAKING VARIOUS OTHER STATUTORY CHANGES.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 Wade, B. Jackson, Brock.

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Bill summary

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

Part I. Administrative Reforms

Hardison Amendment Clarification

Amends GS 150B-19.3, concerning limitations of environmental rules, providing that rules required by a subdivision of GS 150B-19.3 will be treated as if they had received 10 written objections under GS 150B-21.3(b2), thus requiring a delayed effective date pursuant to GS 150B-21.3(b1), the earlier of the 31st legislative day or the day of adjournment of the next regular session of the General Assembly that begins at least 25 days after the date the rule was approved.  Effective July 1, 2014.

Amends GS 150B-21.3A(a)(3), concerning periodic review of existing rules, providing that a rule will also be classified as necessary with public interest if the rule imposes a more restrictive standard, limitation, or requirement than those imposed by federal law. Makes technical and conforming changes. Effective August 23, 2013.

Scope of Local Authority for Ordinances

Amends previously new GS 106-678, changing title of the subsection to Authority of local government to regulate fertilizers (previously, Authority of Board of Agriculture to regulate fertilizers). Makes clarifying changes providing that cities and counties are not allowed to regulate the use, sale, distribution, etc. of fertilizer.

Lottery Oversight Committee Eliminated

Repeals GS 18C-172, eliminating the Lottery Oversight Committee.
Amends GS 18C-115, making conforming changes.

Representation of Small Business Entities in Administrative Appeals

Amends GS 150B-23(a), concerning contested cases under the Administrative Procedure Act  and 105-290, concerning appeals to property tax commission, to provide that in contested hearings or appeals, involving a small business entity, that entity can be represented by one or more of its owners with the written consent of all owners and they cannot be compelled to retain or be represented by an attorney. Provides that a small business entity is a limited liability company owned by no more than two individuals.

Exempt Small Business Entities Buying or Selling Entity-owned Property

Amends GS 93A-2(c)(1), concerning license requirements of real estate brokers, providing that owners of an exempt closely held business as well as officers, managers, and employees of a closely held business entity owned by an exempt person are not subject to licensure or other requirements found in GS 93A-1 or 93A-2.

Reduce State Agency Mobile Device Reporting Frequency

Amends 6A.14(a) of SL 2011-145, concerning limiting the issuance of state cell-phones and other mobile devices, providing that agencies are now only required to report annually (was, quarterly)  information concerning mobile device usage and issuance.

Eliminate, as Obsolete, the Small Business Contractor Authority, the Committee on Dropout Prevention, the State Education Committee, the State Education Commission, the National Heritage Area Designation Commission, the Governor’s Management Council, the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Center for Nursing, the Board of Corrections; and to Encourage the Chief Justice to Abolish the Actual Innocence Commission

Repeals GS Chapter 143B, Part 20 Article 10, Small Business Contractor Act, thus eliminating the Small Business Contractor Authority.

Amends Section 7.32(e) of SL 2007-323 to provide that the Committee on Dropout Prevention will terminate July 1, 2014 (previously, Committee did not have a termination date).

Repeals Article 26 of GS 143, thus eliminating the State Education Commission. Repeals GS 116C-2, eliminating the State Education Commission, and amends GS 116C-1, making conforming changes.

Amends Section 18.10 of SL 2001-491 to provide that the National Heritage Area Designation Commission will terminate July 1, 2014 (previously, Commission did not have a termination date).

Repeals GS 143B, Article 9, Part 24, thus eliminating the Governor’s Management Committee.

Repeals GS 90-171.71, eliminating the Board of Directors of the NC Center for Nursing.

Repeals GS 143B-715, eliminating the Board of Corrections. Amends GS 143B-711, making conforming changes.

Encourages the Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court to abolish the Actual Innocence Commission, inasmuch as their work has been completed, and the General Assembly established the NC Innocence Inquiry Commission.

Clarify Process for Readoption of Existing Rules

Amends GS 150B-21.3A to require that the Rules Review Commission (RRC) report to the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee any agency that fails to conduct the existing rule review. Provides that for the readoption of rules, once the final determination report becomes effective, the RRC must establish a date by which the agency must readopt the rules. Allows the agency to amend a rule as part of the readoption process. Provides that if a rule is readopted without change, the agency is not required to prepare a fiscal note. Makes clarifying and conforming changes. 

Authorizing Licensing Boards to Adopt Rules for Professional Corporations

Adds new subsection (b) to GS 55B-12, Application of regulations of licensing boards, to provide that subject to the requirements of Article 2A of GS Chapter 150B, any licensing board subject to GS Chapter 55B (Professional Corporation Act) may adopt rules to implement the provisions of this Chapter, including any rules needed to set fees within the limits set by this Chapter.

Occupational Licensing Board Reporting Amendments

Amends GS 93B-2, concerning required annual reports of occupational licensing boards (OLB), adding reporting requirements that (1) each OLB must file electronically (previously, did not provide for electronic filing) their required annual reports, (2) required reports must also be filed with the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee (was, the Joint Regulatory Reform Committee), and (3) that the annual reports must also now include the total number of licensees supervised by the board as well as the number who failed the licensing examination. Makes similar changes to the requirements for financial reports.

Adds language that requires the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee to notify any board that fails to file the reports as required.

OAH Electronic Filing

Enacts new GS 150B-23.3 providing that the Office of Administrative Hearings is authorized to electronically file and serve documents in a contested case by using an Electronic Filing Service Provider (EFSP).

Sets out and defines the following terms for use in this new subsection: electronic filing, EFSP, and electronic service.

Section is effective when it becomes law, and applies to contested cases filed on or after that date. 

State Board of Education Rulemaking Clarification

Amends GS 115C-12 to provide that the State Board of Education (State Board) is subject to Article 2A of GS Chapter 150B, and may not implement or enforce a policy that meets the definition of a rule if the policy has not been adopted as a rule according to Article 2A.

Amends GS 150B-23 to provide that if an agency fails to take any required action within the specified time period, any person whose rights are substantially prejudiced by the failure to act may commence a contested case seeking an order that the agency act. If the judge finds that the agency failed to act as required, the agency may be ordered to take the required action within a specified time period. Makes conforming changes to GS 150B-44.

Streamline Rule-Making Process

Repeals GS 150B-19.1(h), which required agencies to obtain a certification of adherence to rulemaking principles before submitting the proposed text of a rule for publication.

Amends GS 150B-21.4(b1) adding language to provide that when an agency's proposed rule change would have a substantial impact, they must also obtain a certification from the Office of State Budget and Management that they adhered to regulatory principles as set out in GS 150B-19.1(a)(2), (5), and (6).

This section is effective when it becomes law, and applies to proposed rules published on or after that date.

Burden Of Proof in Certain Contested Cases

Enacts new GS 150B-25.1, in the Administrative Procedure Act, concerning the burden of proof in certain contested administrative hearings, clarifying that in most contested cases the petitioner has the burden of proof. However, in a contested case involving a civil fine or penalty by a state agency the burden of proof rests with the state agency. Further clarifies that in cases where a career state employee subject to GS Chapter 126 (State Personnel System) was discharged, suspended, or demoted for just cause, the burden of proof rests with the agency employer.

Directs the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee to study whether there are other contested cases where the burden of proof should rest with the agency.

This section is effective when it becomes law, and applies to contested cases beginning on or after that date.

Legislative Appointments

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; (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 called upon by law 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 called upon by law 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 that are 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.

Part II. Permitting Reforms

Capstone Permitting

Adds new subsection (g) to GS 150B-23 to provide that when multiple licenses are required from an agency for a single activity, the Secretary or chief administrative officer of the agency may issue a written determination that the administrative decision reviewable under Article 3 of GS Chapter 150B occurs on the date the license for the activity is issued, denied, or otherwise disposed of. Provides that the written determination of the administrative decision is not reviewable under this Article. Also provides that any licenses issued for the activity prior to the date of the last license identified in the written determination are not reviewable under this Article until the last license for the activity is issued, denied, or otherwise disposed of. Permits a contested case challenging the last decision for the activity to include challenges.

Contested cases for air quality permits

Amends GS 143-215.108(e) to no longer apply to a third party who is dissatisfied with a decision of the Commission to commence a contested case by filing a petition under GS 150B-23. Provides that the filing of a petition under this subsection will stay the Commission’s decision until the contested case is resolved. Adds subsection (e1) to provide that a person, other than a permit applicant or permittee, who is aggrieved by the Commission’s decision on a permit application may begin a contested case by filing a petition under GS 150B-239 within 30 days after the Commission provides notice after its decision on a permit application, as provided in GS 150B-23(f), or by posting the decision on a publically available Web site. Provides that in a contested case filed under this subsection, “substantial prejudice” to the petitioner in a contested case filed under this subsection means the exceedance of a national ambient air quality standard. Provides that the filing of a petition under this subsection does not stay the Commission’s decision except as ordered by the administrative law judge under GS 150B-33(b).

Closure of Certain Animal Waste Containment Basins.

Amends Part 1A of Article 21 of GS Chapter 143 by adding new GS 143-215.10J which directs DENR to consider any waste containment basin to be a fresh water storage facility meeting all the requirements for closure under 15A NCAC 02T. 1306, if the owner of basin can demonstrate to DENR that the basin meets all of the specified requirements. Directs the Department to provide written notification to the owner of a basin that it is no longer considered an animal waste management system.

Contested Cases for CAMA Permits

Amends GS 113A-121.1(c) to provide that when an applicant seeks administrative review of a decision concerning a minor or major development permit under subsection (a) of this section, the permit is suspended from the time that a person seeks administrative review of the decision until the Commission makes a final decision in the contested case and no action may be takes during that time that would be unlawful in the absence of a permit. Adds subsection (d) to provide that a permit challenged under subsection (b) remains in effective unless a stay is issued by the administrative law judge or by a reviewing court.

Gubernatorial Environmental Permit Waiver Authority

Amends GS 116A-19.30 to allow the Governor, during a gubernatorially or legislatively declared state of emergency, to issue an executive order waiving required documents or permits under the Environmental Policy Act, Sedimentation Pollution Control Act of 1973, and the Coastal Area Management, for the repair, protection, safety, enhancement, or replacement of a part of the highway system that provides the sole road access to a city or unincorporated inhabited area bordering the ocean or any coastal sound where bridge or road conditions as a result of the events leading to the declaration of the state of emergency pose a risk to public health, safety, or welfare. Sets out relevant definitions and requirements for the executive order. Makes conforming changes to GS 113A-12, GS 113A-52.01, and GS 113A-103.

Fee Rollback For Oyster Permits Under Private Docks

Repeals GS 113-210(l) and (m), concerning the $100 Under Dock Oyster Culture Permit fee and the advance sales of those permits. Effective July 1, 2014.

Local Government Leases for Renewable Energy Facilities

Amends GS 160A-272(c) regarding the lease of property owned by a city. Provides that the council may approve a lease for the siting and operation of a renewable energy facility, as that term is defined in GS 62-133.8(a)(7), for  up to 25 (was, 20) years without treating the lease as a sale of property and without giving notice by publication by the intended lease. Deletes language restricting application of this subsection only to the named counties.

Closing-Out Sales

Amends GS 66-77 to require a person advertising or offering for sale goods, wares, or merchandise as a closing out sale, or as damaged by fire, smoke, water or otherwise to obtain a license to conduct such a sale from the officer designated by the city or town’s governing board where the person plans to conduct the sale (was, had to obtain a license for the sale from the clerk of the city or town). Makes conforming changes.

Part III. Regulatory and Statutory Modifications

 Regulations of Impact to Isolated Wetlands

Requires the Environmental Management Commission to adopt a rule to amend 15A NCAC 02H .1305 (Review of Applications) so that when implementing the rule (1) the amount of impacts of isolated wetlands is less than or equal to 1 acre of isolated wetlands for the entire project and (2) the mitigation ratio is 1:1. Identical provisions are in effect when the act becomes law and expire on the date that the required rule is adopted.

Requires the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to study the surface area thresholds for the regulation of mountain bog isolated wetlands and report to the Environmental Review Commission on or before November 1, 2014.

 Community College Brewing Course Waiver

Enacts new GS 18B-1114.6 to allow the holder of a brewing, distillation, and fermentation course authorization to (1) manufacture malt beverages on the school’s campus or the school’s contracted or lease property for providing instruction and education on making malt beverages; (2) possess malt beverages manufactured during the brewing, distillation, and fermentation program for the purpose of conducting malt beverage tasting seminars and classes; (3) sell malt beverages produced during the course to wholesalers or retailers upon obtaining a malt beverages wholesaler permit; and (4) sell malt beverages produced during the course, upon obtaining a permit. Limits the authorization for the course to community colleges or colleges offering a brewing, distillation, and fermentation program as a part of its curriculum. Allows the holder of the course authorization who obtains a malt beverage wholesaler permit to obtain a malt beverage special event permit and where the permit is valid, allows participation in approved events and selling at retail at those events any malt beverages produced incident to the operation of the program. Sets limitations on the events. Makes conforming changes to GS 18B-1114.5, GS 18B-1101, and GS 66-58.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Repeals Section 19(c) of SL 2013-413, which was to become effective October 1, 2014, and was to require that carbon monoxide detectors receive primary power from the building's wiring where the wiring is served from a commercial source and receives power from a battery when the primary power source is interrupted. Makes conforming changes to defunct effective dates in SL 2013-413.

Amends GS 143-138(b2), concerning carbon monoxide alarms (CMA), providing updates to the requirements for CMAs in hotels, allowing, in lieu of requiring a CMA in a lodging establishment a carbon monoxide detection system, with detectors and audible notification appliances installed and properly maintained. Requires CMAs in every dwelling unit having a combustion (was, fossil fuel) heater. Makes the rules for lodging establishments also applicable to tourist homes providing accommodations for seven or more days, bed and breakfast inns, and homes. Defines combustion heater, appliance, or fireplace for use in this section.

Directs the Building Code Council (BCC) to modify the NC State Building Code (Code) to reflect and regulate the provisions of GS 143-138(b2) in new and existing lodging establishments. Provides that the BCC can establish more stringent rules regulating CMAs and detectors if so desired. Directs the BCC to modify the Code to include an annual inspection for the purpose of verifying compliance with GS 143-138(b2).

Allows the BCC to require carbon monoxide alarms in dwelling units with no combustion heater, appliance, or fireplace other than a wood-burning fireplace only upon (1) a finding that carbon monoxide emissions from wood burning fireplaces constitutes a substantial threat to public health and safety and (2) a report by the Council to the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations that provides the basis for the finding.

Outlines procedure for when a violation that poses an imminent hazard is discovered and is not corrected upon inspection. Procedures include the code official immediately contacting the local health director/designee for the county where the violation was discovered by verbal contact and also submitting a written report documenting the violation to said director. The local health director is then obligated to investigate and take appropriate action regarding the permit of the lodging establishment within one working day of the receipt of the written report.

Violations that are discovered but do not pose imminent hazard, but are not corrected during an inspection, are subject to a correction period of three working days during which the owner or operator can submit a notice, verbal or written, that the violation has been corrected. If the code official receives such notice, a re-inspection can be performed. If no such notice is received, the code official will submit a report to the local health director within three working days. The local health director is then obligated to investigate and take appropriate action regarding the permit of the lodging establishment.

Makes technical and conforming changes, updating language of GS 143-138(b2).

Amends GS 130A-248(g), deleting language that required all hotels, motels, tourist homes, and other establishments that provide lodging for pay to install either a battery-operated or electric carbon monoxide detector in every enclosed space meeting specified conditions. Provides new language that requires those establishments to comply with requirements of GS 143-138(b2)(2). Provides that after receiving notification of a violation of GS 143-138(b2)(2) by specified code official, the local health department can suspend permits issued pursuant to GS 130A-248.

 Water Supply Watershed Classifications

Amends GS 143-214.5 to create new (c) to provide that when the  Environmental Management Commission (EMC) receives a rule making petition that (1) is from a local government with jurisdiction over an area to be served by a proposed water intake that is impacted by a reclassification to which the subsection applies,and (2) requests repeals of the classification, the Commission must grant the petition, and the reclassification will be stayed until the Commission has promulgated rules in response to the rule- making petition that are retroactive to the effective date of the original classification. Apples to water supply watersheds reclassified after January 1, 2012. Requires a local government to repeal local ordinance changes required in order to implement a water supply watershed reclassification upon filing a rulemaking petition, as enacted above. Effective when the section becomes law and applies to any petitions for rulemaking regarding water supply watershed reclassifications received by the EMC on or after January 1, 2012, and before the effective date of the section.

 ADA Requirements for Private Pools

Requires swimming pools to be accessible only to the extent required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Requires the Building Code Council to adopt a rule to be consistent with this requirement.

 Environmental Self Audit Privilege and Limited Immunity

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 proceeds 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 administrative penalties and fines by enforcement agencies 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.

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

Effective July 1, 2014, and applies to environmental audits conducted on or after that date.

 Clarify Definition of Child Care

Amends GS 110-86 to clarify that for the programs not considered to be child care, for nonpublic schools accredited with early childhood standards that operate a child care facility for less than six and one half hours per day, six and one half hours per day relates to instructional hours only and does not include before or after school programs.

 Ambient Air Monitoring

Requires DENR to review its ambient air monitoring network and, in the next annual monitoring network plan, request the removal of any ambient air monitors not required by federal law and regulations. Requires DENR, by September 1, 2014, to stop using all ambient air monitors not required by federal law if approval is not needed from the EPA for the discontinuance. Requires the Division of Air Quality to report to the ERC by November 1, 2014, on the status of the ambient air monitoring network and implementation of these requirements.

 Good Samaritan Law

Amends GS 90-21.14 to clarify that, in order to be exempt from liability, a person must voluntarily and without expectation of compensation (was, receives no compensation for services as an emergency medical care provider) provide first aid or emergency health care.

 Open Burning

Provides that no air quality permit is required for the open burning of leaves logs, stumps, tree branches, or yard trimmings if the six specified conditions are met, including that the material originates on the premises of private residences and is burned there, there is no public pickup service, and the burning does not create a nuisance. Requires that rules be amended to incorporate these provisions.

Amends GS 143-215.112 to prohibit local air pollution control programs from limiting or regulating any combustion heater, appliance, or fireplace in private dwellings. Amends GS 143-215.108 to provide that the statute does not give the EMC or DENR the power to regulate any combustion heater, appliance, or fireplace in private dwellings,

Amends GS 160A-193 to provide that the statute does not authorize the application of a city ordinance banning or limiting outdoor burning to persons living within one mile of the city unless the city provides those persons with either (1) trash and yard waste collection services or (2) access to solid waste dropoff sites on the same basis as city residents.

 Inlet Hazard Areas

Prohibits establishing any inlet hazard area in any location with the following characteristics (1) the location is the former location of an inlet that has been closed for at least 15 years; (2) due to shore migration, the location no longer includes the current location of the inlet; (3) the location includes an inlet providing access to a state port via a channel maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Requires the adoption of a rule consistent with these provisions.

 Hunting Trials

Amends GS 113-274 to allow the Wildlife Resources Commission to issue a permit to allow a person to participate as a dog handler or judge in a field trial without possessing a hunting license so long as the person does not participate in hunting with the dog.

 Adjust Utility Regulatory Fee

Amends GS 62-302, Regulatory Fee, to reduce the fee imposed on retail revenues of local exchange companies that have elected to participate in the alternative forms of regulation found in GS 62-133.5(h) or GS 62-133.5(m).

 Sets out definitions to be used in GS 62-302, including noncompetitive jurisdictional revenues, subsection (h) competitive jurisdictional revenues, and subsection (m) competitive jurisdictional revenues.

 Provides that noncompetitive jurisdictional revenues are subject to a utility fee that is the greater of (i) a percentage rate of each public utility's noncompetitive jurisdictional revenues for each quarter or (ii) $6.25 each quarter.

 Provides that competitive jurisdictional revenues, either subsection (h) or subsection (m) competitive jurisdictional revenues, will have a public utility regulatory fee that is a percentage rate established by the General Assembly for each fiscal year for revenues for each quarter.

 Establishes that the percentage rate to be used to calculate the public utility fee for subsection (h) revenues will be set at 0.06 percent of revenues earned during each quarter beginning on July 1, 2015, and on July 1, 2016, it will change to 0.04 percent.

 Establishes that the percentage rate to be used to calculate the public utility fee for subsection (m) revenues will be set at 0.05 percent of revenues earned during each quarter beginning on July 1, 2015, and on July 1, 2016, it will change to 0.02 percent.

 Further provides that, for 2015-16, and 2016-17 fiscal years, the percentage rate used for the public utility regulatory fee for noncompetitive jurisdictional revenues will be adjusted to reflect the decrease in fees collected by the above rates in order to ensure that the cost of operations of the Utilities Commission and staff are defrayed. Effective July 1, 2015.

 Amends Jordan Lake Rules for Existing Riparian Buffers

Amends Section 2(c) of SL 2013-395 to provide that concerning the implementation of the protection of existing riparian buffers rule, the piping of a stream allowed under a permit issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers must be categorized as an exempt (was, allowable) use.

 Eliminate Outdated Air Quality Reporting Requirements

Amends GS 143-215.3A to delete requirements for reporting on the costs of the Title V program. Repeals specified sections of SL 2002-4 concerning studies and reports related to air quality.

 Clarifying Changes to Statutes Pertaining to the Management of Venomous Snakes and Other Reptiles

Amends GS 14-419 to clarify that the appropriate final disposition for a seized venomous reptile for which antivenin approved by the US Food and Drug Administration is not readily available is for the reptile to be euthanized unless the species is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

 Transfer Rule-Making Authority for Wastewater Systems

Transfers rule-making authority for wastewater systems from the Commission for Public Health to the Environmental Management Commission. Amends GS 130A-334 to add a definition for ground absorption system. Amends the definition of plat to take into account whether, for subdivision lots, a local planning authority exists at the time for a permit application. Amends the definition of wastewater system to provide that a system located on multiple adjoining lots or tracts of land under common ownership are considered a single system. Amends GS 130A-335 to provide that following a preconstruction conference, the local health department must advise the owner or developer of rule changes for wastewater system construction incorporating current technology. Requires the local health department to issue a revised authorization for wastewater system construction incorporating the rule change upon written request. Amends GS 130A-336 to remove the five-year cap on the authorization for wastewater system construction.

Repeal Waste Management Board Rules

Requires the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources to repeal the rule concerning the Governor’s Waste Management Board by December 1, 2014, because the statutory authority for the Board was already repealed. Prohibits implementing or enforcing the rule until the repeal.

Expand Daily Flow Design Exemption for Low-Flow Fixtures

Amends Section 34(b) of SL 2013-413. Allows for the establishment, by rule, of lower limits on reduced flow rates as necessary to ensure wastewater system integrity and projecting of public health, safety, and welfare, provided that the Commission relies on scientific evidence specific to soil types found in the state that the lower limits are necessary for those soil types. Makes conforming and clarifying changes.

Repeal Obsolete Statutes

Repeals GS 14-197, using profane or indecent language on public highways, and GS 14-401.8, refusing to relinquish party telephone line in emergency; false statement of emergency.

Increase Certain Penalties for Taking of Protected Plants

Amends GS 14-129 to increase the range for fine to $75 to $175 (was, $10 to $50) for digging up, pulling up, or taking from another’s land or public domain any of the specified plants. Specifies that each plant taken is a separate offense. Adds requirements as to when a conviction must be reported to the Plant Conservation Board for the consideration of civil penalties. Removes the exemption to the statute for specified counties. Amends GS 106-202.19 to require the assessment of a civil penalty against a person violating the article more than once.

Increase Penalties for Parking in Handicapped Space Without Required Placard

Amends GS 20-37.6 to increase the penalty for parking in a handicapped space without the handicapped placard to at least $300 but not more than $500 (was, at least $100 but no more than $250). Allows, but no longer requires, a sign designating a handicapped parking place to state the maximum penalty. Adds that a sign designating such a space must not state the incorrect maximum penalty. Effective for violations committed on or after December 1, 2014.

Repeal Outdated Public Utilities Statutes or Reports

Repeals GS 62-36A and GS 62-36.1, concerning reporting on natural gas planning. Repeals GS 62-133.2(g), requiring reporting on proceedings concerning fuel-related charge adjustments for electric utilities. Repeals Section 14 of SL 2002-4, requiring a report on the implementation of legislation related to air quality. Repeals Section 14 of SL 2007-397, which required a report by the Utilities Commission on the results of specified cost allocations. Repeals Section 6.1 of SL 1995-27, requiring a report on legislation on access to low-cost telecommunications service.

Repeal Energy Audit Requirements

Amends GS 143-64.12 to delete the requirement that the Department of Administration develop an energy audit and procedure for conducting the audits. Also amends how often state agencies and institutions of higher learning must update management plans to biennially (was, annually). Requires community colleges to submit reports on utility consumption and costs biennially (was, annually). Requires the State Energy Office to report every odd numbered year (was, every year) and changes the report recipient to the Joint Legislative Energy Policy Commission (was, the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations). Makes conforming changes.

Coastal Stormwater Grandfather

Provides that the provision and requirements applicable to any grandfathered development activity subject to (a)(2) of 15A NCAC 02H .1005 is also applicable to an expansion of the development activity. Defines grandfathered development activity. Requires the adoption of a rule to amend 15A NCAC 02H .1005 consistent with the bill requirements.

Pesticide Use for Moles

Amends GS 113-300.2 to allow using pesticides to control any species of mole other than the star-nosed mole if (1) all rules regulating application are followed and (2) the pesticides used are applied in a manner that minimizes hazards to nontarget species.

Periodic Inspections Authority of Housing Finance Agency

Amends GS 153A-364(b), which allows for periodic inspections for hazardous or unlawful conditions as part of a targeted effort within a designated geographic area. Exempts residential buildings or structures subject to periodic inspections by the NC Housing Finance Agency (Agency) if the Agency has issued a finding that the building or structure is in compliance with federal standards. Requires the owner or manager of a residential building or structure that is subject to periodic inspections by the Agency to submit a copy of the Compliance Results Letter within 10 days of receipt; if the letter is not provided, the building or structure will be subject to periodic inspections until the letter is provided.

Security Grilles

Allows horizontal sliding or vertical security grilles at exits or exit access doors if the grills are openable from the inside without the use of a key or special knowledge or effort when the space is occupied by authorized persons and the grilles remain secured in the full open position during occupancy by the general public. Requires the Building Code Council to adopt a rule to make the Code consistent with these provisions.

Rewrite Landscape Contractor Licensing Statutes

Repeals GS 89D-1 through 89D-10 (creating the NC Landscape Contractors' Registration Board and requiring certification of landscape contractors), effective August 1, 2015.

Amends GS Chapter 89D by enacting new GS 89D-11 through GS 89D-24 to create the NC Landscape Contractors' Licensing Board and require licensure of landscape contractors. New GS 89D-12 prohibits anyone from engaging in the practice of landscape construction or contracting or holding himself or herself out as a landscape contractor unless licensed by the North Carolina Landscape Contractor Licensing Board. Defines landscape contractor as anyone (a) engaged in the business requiring the art, experience, ability, knowledge, science, and skill to prepare contracts and bid for the performance of landscape services, including installing, planting, repairing, and maintaining gardens, lawns, shrubs, vines, trees, or other decorative vegetation, including the grading and preparation of plots and areas of land for decorative utilitarian treatment and arrangement; (b) practicing the act of horticulture consultation or planting design for employment purposes; (c) who constructs, installs, or maintains landscape drainage systems and cisterns, provided that the contractor makes none of the specified connections; (d) designs, installs, or maintains low voltage landscape lighting, provided that the systems do not exceed listed specifications; or (e) engages in the construction of garden pools, retaining walls, walks, patios, or other decorative landscape features.

New GS 89D-13 lists exemptions from the provisions of Chapter 89D. New GS 89D-14 creates a nine-member North Carolina Landscape Contractors' Licensing Board (Board), with appointees as listed, and new GS 89D-15 sets forth Board powers and duties. New GS 89D-16(a) allows an applicant to sit for the examination if the applicant pays required fees and submits evidence demonstrating the applicant's qualifications for licensure, as specified. Directs the Board to establish and administer examinations.

New GS 89D-17 authorizes the Board to issue a license in the name of a corporation, provided specified conditions are met. Details additional requirements for licenses and licensees. New GS 89D-18 authorizes the Board to issue a license to a nonresident individual or a foreign entity that meets applicable requirements. Sets forth provisions related to certificates of authority and information requested by the Secretary of Revenue. Defines terms applicable to GS 89D-18.

New GS 89D-19 allows the Board to issue a license without examination to any person licensed, certified, or registered as a landscape contractor in another state or country if that state or country's requirements are substantially equivalent. New GS 89D-20 provides for annual renewal of landscape contractor licenses on or before August 1, in accordance with continuing education requirements and the fee schedule set out in new GS 89D-21. New GS 89D-22 authorizes the Board to deny, restrict, suspend, or revoke a license for reasons including fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in the application for a license or its renewal, fraudulent misrepresentation in the practice of landscape contracting, gross malpractice or incompetence, violation of rules adopted by the Board, or failure to file or keep the required surety bond in force. Allows the Board to assess costs in a proceeding against an applicant or licensee found to be in violation of the chapter. New GS 89D-23 authorizes the Board to assess a civil penalty of $2,000 or less for each violation of Chapter 89D or any rules adopted by the Board, with proceeds remitted to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund. New GS 89D-24 authorizes the Board to file a motion for an injunction against anyone engaging in landscape construction without a license. Also requires that the licensed landscape contractor notify the Board of any written complaints filed against the landscape contractor not resolved within 30 days.

Members currently serving on the NC Landscape Contractors' Registration Board will continue to serve until new members are appointed to the Board created by this act. Details additional appointing criteria for new appointees, and transfers all items from the Registration Board to the Licensing Board. Provides that any person who, on or before December 31, 2014, meets one of four enumerated criteria will receive a landscape contractor's license from the Board without the examination requirement,upon submission of a completed application and fee payment on or before August 1, 2015. Specifies that landscape contractors currently registered are not required to renew registration for the 2015 calendar year.

Clarify Rights of Marine Artifact Donors

Enacts new GS 121-23.1 providing that any person who legally discovers a shipwreck or shipwreck site or who salvages marine artifacts on or after November 21, 1996, within state waters, and donates the artifacts or contractual interest in them to the state, retains the right to access the artifacts and the right to display or tour the artifacts or conduct nondestructive analysis and research on the artifacts if the specified five requirements are met. Provides that the rights are valid for 30 years after discovery; at the end of the 30 years, the replicas required by the statute are returned to the person who donated the artifacts or their heir. Effective when the act becomes law and apples to any marine artifacts or contractual interest in marine artifacts donated to the state on or after January 1, 1998.

Transfer Solid Waste Rule-Making Authority

Transfers the authority for solid waste rule-making from the Commission for Public Health to the EMC. Makes conforming changes throughout GS Chapter 130A. Requires the Revisor of Statutes and the Codifier of Rules to make any conforming statutory changes.

Transfer Drinking Water Rule-Making Authority

Amends GS 87-97 to give the EMC (was, the Commission for Public Health) rule-making authority over the sampling and testing of well water. Makes conforming changes and authorizes the Codifier of Rules to make any conforming rule changes necessary.

Well Contractor Licensing Changes

Amends GS 87-43.1 to exempt from the requirements for electrical contractors any installation, construction, maintenance, or repair of electrical wiring, devices, appliances, or equipment done by a certified well contractor when running wires from the well pump to the pressure switch. Amends GS 87-98.6 to require the establishment of minimum requirements of education, experience, and knowledge for each type of certification for well contractors for the installation, construction, maintenance, and repair of electrical wiring devices, appliances, and equipment related to the construction, operation, and repair of wells.

Standardize Local Well Programs

Amends GS 87-97 to require local well programs to use the standard forms for all required submittals and prohibit making their own forms unless the program submits a petition for rule-making to the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) and the EMC finds that unique conditions or circumstances constitute a threat to public health that will be mitigated by the use of a different local form. Also requires the registry of drinking water wells for which a construction permit or repair permit is issued to be searchable by address or addresses served by the well.

Prohibits DENR and local well programs from requiring that well contractor identification plates include well construction permit numbers. Allows local programs to install a plate with the permit number or relevant information on a well at the expense of the program. Requires the EMC to make related rule changes.

Provides that if the well location marked on a map submitted with an application to a local program is also marked with a stake or similar marker on the property, then the program may not require the contractor to be onsite during the predrill inspection as long as the contractor is available by phone.

Part IV. Studies

Honeybees

Requires the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to create the nine-member Honeybee Improvement for Vital Ecology (HIVE) working group. Sets out HIVE’s five purposes including reporting on a list of bee-friendly vegetation and related planting requirements and a recommendation on whether priority should be given to bee friendly vegetation for landscaping projects within Department of Transportation owned rights-of-way and rest areas. Requires a final report to the Environmental Review

Commission by November 30, 2014.

Senator Jean Preston Marine Shellfish Sanctuary

Requires the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to designate a contiguous area of approximately 10,000 acres in the Pamlico Sound as a recommendation to the Environmental Review Commission (ERC) for establishing the "Senator Jean Preston Marine Shellfish Sanctuary." Also requires DMF to create a plan for managing the sanctuary that includes components concerning specified issues related to the location and duration of the sanctuary, administration of the sanctuary, funding, commercial fisherman relief including free or discounted leases to fishermen meeting specified conditions, and recommendations for statutory or regulatory changes needed to expedite the expansion of shellfish restoration and harvesting. Requires DENR to report to the ERC on implementation no later than October 1, 2014, and quarterly thereafter until the final plan is submitted.

Interbasin Transfers Study

Requires the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to study statutes and rules governing interbasin transfers. Requires examining: (1) whether temporary and emergency transfers should be subject to different regulations than long-term transfers, (2) whether transfers between sub-basins should be subject to different regulations than transfers between major river basins, and (3) whether there are types of transfers that should be exempted from the interbasin certification or other requirements. Requires a report by October 1, 2014, to the Environmental Review Commission.

PED Study Water and Sewer Systems

Requires the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee to include a study of the benefits of merging public water systems and wastewater collection and treatment works in the 2014-15 Work Plan for the Program Evaluation Division. Sets out three issues that must be included in the study. Requires the Program Evaluation Division to submit findings and recommendations to the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee and the Environmental Review Commission at a date to be determined by the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee.

Part V. Severability Clause and Effective Date

Includes a severability clause.

Except where otherwise indicated, the act is effective when it becomes law.

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