Nearly two dozen laws go into effect January 1 in North Carolina

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The US Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the US Constitution gives state legislators the power to draw congressional districts and the federal courts should not interfere with whether gerrymandering has been too partisan. The North Carolina General Assembly meets in the State Legislative Building in Raleigh. Frank Taylor / Carolina Public Press

Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

The new year brings a slate of new laws to North Carolinians as nearly two dozen laws went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

New NC Laws 

– SB 103: Reduce Regulations To Help Children with Autism. This bill provides several new provisions related to the regulation of behavior analysts and assistant behavior analysts. Reduces regulations to help children with autism. It’s officially an act to reduce unnecessary regulatory constraints for applied behavior analysis.

– SB 248: Additional Info on Health Insurance Cards. Adds additional information to health insurance cards regarding dental plans.

– HB160: Retirement Service Purchase Rewrite Part II. Retirement service purchase rewrite system. This is administrative changes to teacher, state and local government employee and judge’s retirement plans. Further amends GS 128-26, concerning the purchase of creditable service by members of the Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System (LGERS). Enacts new subsection (h2), providing identical service purchase provisions as those enacted in GS 135-4(j2) under TSERS, regarding service as a member of the NCGA on or after Jan. 1, 2023. Maintains the previously proposed change to subsection (h1), limiting similar purchase provisions for NCGA service to purchases prior to Jan. 1, 2023. 

– HB 734: Dept. of Health & Human Services Revisions. This in part is to help protect citizens from unlicensed mental health facilities.

– HB 366: Regulatory Reform Act of 2021. Part of the Regulatory Relief Act  works on regulations for a variety of things such as allowing distilleries to sell alcoholic beverages directly to people in other states. It also mandates that Pre-K programs and kindergarten programs are publicly available online. A detailed section involves rentals and landlords, and another about wastewater.

– HB 489: 2021 Building Code And Development Regulatory Reforms changes building codes and updates development reforms. Prohibits local governments from adopting or enforcing a local ordinance or resolution or any other policy that requires regular, routine inspections of (single-family or duplex) buildings or structures without first obtaining approval from the North Carolina Building Code Council. The North Carolina Building Code Council shall review all applications for additional inspections requested by a local government and shall, in a reasonable manner, approve or disapprove the additional inspections. 

– SB 693: Expedite Child Safety and Permanency. An act to amend various abuse, neglect and dependency laws to ensure the safety of children in “out-of-home” placements and to expedite permanency planning hearing for children removed from the home.

“This legislation takes important steps to help protect children from abuse and neglect and to help them grow up successfully in a safe environment,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. 

– HB 436: Support Law Enforcement Mental Health. Under this act, it is required to screen law enforcement officers prior to certification or employment, educate them on maintaining good mental health and to provide mental health resources. It also creates a physical fitness study.

– SB 300: Criminal Justice Reform. This act increases protections, training and oversight for state and local law enforcement officers. It creates a decertification database, and requires use of the FBI’s Next Generation Identification System. 

Senate Bill 300 makes important changes to improve policing and criminal justice in North Carolina, as recommended by TREC, including:

• Promotes recruitment of officers with diverse backgrounds and experiences and improves training so that officers are better equipped to be successful

• Requires early intervention mechanisms to identify and correct officers who use excessive force or other misconduct

• Furthers independent investigations of police-involved shootings

• Limits local laws that criminalize poverty

• Requires a first appearance in court within 72 hours of a person being arrested.”

– HB 27: In-Service Training/ Magistrates – Ensures that all magistrates receive the education necessary to perform their jobs.  It stipulates that in order to be eligible for renomination as a magistrate an individual shall have successfully completed the course(s) of basic training and annual in-service training for magistrates prescribed by G.S. 7A-177.”

– HB403: Clarify Motor Vehicle Franchise Laws. This revises and clarifies laws governing new motor vehicle dealer franchises.

– HB 890: ABC Omnibus Legislation changes rules and regulations pertaining to the ABC Commission. For example, it allows online orders at ABC stores. Distilleries were formerly unable to be open during hours when the local ABC stores were not open. Now, distilleries are able to offer tours, tastings, and can sell closed containers of their product to consumers for off-premises consumption seven days a week (9 a.m.- 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Noon-9 p.m. on Sunday).  Distilleries are no longer required to maintain records related to tours given to individuals who tour the distillery prior to purchasing a bottle of distilled spirits as required by N.C. Gen. Stat. 18B-1105(a)(4). The omnibus legislation containing alcohol reform measures are expected to benefit all business owners governed by the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission. Many of the provisions of the bill are focused on the state’s nearly 100 distilleries.

– SB 542: State Health Plan Combat Fraud/Property Finders Standards. This law incentivizes plan members to report fraud, waste and abuse by health care providers. Senate Bill 542 also allows the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees to adopt a program encouraging Plan members to report fraud, waste, and abuse by a health care provider that provides services to Plan members and would allow payment of an incentive to members. It also adds language to define and establish standards for property finders which is a person or business who is hired for a fee or any other consideration by an owner of distributable or presumably abandoned property to locate, deliver, recover, or assist in the recovery of that property.

– HB685: Electronic Transaction Fees/Official Fees. Allows a consumer finance lender to recover from a borrower the actual cost of a fee imposed on the lender from an unaffiliated third-party for processing electronic payments and disbursing loan proceeds. Many consumer finance lenders will accept a debit card payment on a loan amount, and many will load loan proceeds onto a borrower’s debit card. In these instances, the card company charges a fee for this service. Section 1 of the bill would allow the lender to recover the actual transaction charge imposed by the card company. 

This bill provides that fees or charges paid by the seller for determining the existence of or to record a security interest in a consumer credit sale may be included in the amount financed but must be excluded from the finance charge.  

– SB 425: GAP and VVPA Agreement Changes. This is an act to make changes to statutes involving Guaranteed Asset Protection Waivers and to create an article governing Vehicle Value Protection Agreements.

– SB 308: Various Building Code Amendments. Prohibit inspection departments from delaying the issuance of a temporary certificate of occupancy when additional violations are found, on items already approved, during reinspection.

• Clarify electric wiring requirement references.

• Modify one- or two- family dwelling residential development fire apparatus access road requirements where conformance is technically not feasible.

– SB 473: Enhance Local Government Transparency.

Bans public officials from gaining financially from their position. The law also makes it a crime for elected officials to use their position and access to government resources for personal gain. It also would give some independence to local government offices responsible for auditing their government colleagues.

Tax rate changes

Among the roughly 20 laws that went into effect in whole or in part Jan. 1 is the start of a multiyear reduction in the individual income tax rate and another round of higher income deductions.

The two-year state budget bill which was signed into law last November will reduce the current 5.25% individual rate to 4.99% for 2022. The law directs that the rate fall incrementally until it reaches 3.99% in 2027.

The new budget law also raises the amount of income not subject to taxes through the standard deduction. For example, a married couple filing jointly will pay no taxes on the first $25,500 of income for the 2022 tax year, compared with $21,500 in 2021, a $4,500 difference. 

The state’s per-child tax deduction will also grow in 2022 — and will increase by $500. Families making up to $40,000 will now receive a $3,000 per-child deduction — an amount that phases out as incomes increase.

For the most part, tax filers won’t see the changes this tax year, which their returns this April will be based on 2021 rules — however, they will surface when returns are filed in early 2023. 

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