Legislative building

The North Carolina State Legislative Building in Raleigh.

RALEIGH — As the state budget impasse continues in Raleigh, more than 35 bills have been signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper in July. These bills previously passed both the N.C. House and Senate by the end of June.

As of July 15, more than 35 bills remain on Cooper’s desk awaiting his signature or veto. Cooper has 10 days during a legislative session to sign or veto. If Cooper takes no action on a bill, it becomes law after 10 days without his signature. Any vetoed bill can be overridden with a 60 percent vote in both the N.C. House and Senate.

Death by Distribution

Signed into law on July 8, S.L. 2019-83 attempts to strengthen the laws to act as a deterrent to the opioid crisis by creating two new felonies for varying types of distribution of controlled substances that causes death.

Death by distribution would be a Class C felony, which has a maximum punishment of 231 months incarcerated. Aggravated death by distribution for certain repeat drug offenders would be a Class B2 felony, equivalent to a second-degree murder charge.

The bill makes a special designation to protect good samaritans who call emergency services in a life-saving event.

The measure passed the N.C. House 83-34 on May 6 and the N.C. Senate 36-10 on June 26. Both Rep. Ray Russell (D-Boone) and Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Blowing Rock) voted in favor.

Rehiring retired teachers

Teachers who retired on or before Feb. 1, 2019, and have certain age and experience requirements can be hired to a high-needs school district without having an adverse effect on their retirement plan, according to a law signed by Cooper on June 11.

Retired teachers with 30 years experience, or 25 years experience and are 60 years old or older or with five years experience and are at least 65 years old can return to teaching, but only to a high-needs school, with additional salary benefits for teachers going into a special education or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, position.

The bill passed the N.C. Senate 43-0 on May 8 and the N.C. House 108-4 on June 25.

Increased penalties for assault with firearm on LEO

S.L. 2019-116 would increase the maximum allowable sentence for a individual convicted of assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer, probation officer, or parole officer while the officer is in the performance of their duties from 88 months to 204 months.

The act is now a Class D felony, whereas previously it was a Class E felony.

The bill passed the N.C. House and Senate unanimously on March 13 and June 27, respectively, then was signed by Cooper on July 11.

Dangerous roadways

Driving through, around or removing barriers for construction work or for public safety has been expanded in S.L. 2019-84, signed into law on July 8.

“When infrastructure is closed to the public as provided herein, any person who willfully drives onto transportation infrastructure closed pursuant to this section or removes, injures or destroys any such barrier or barriers or obstructions on the road closed or being constructed, or tears down, removes or destroys any such notices, or extinguishes, removes, injures or destroys any such warning signs, lights, or lanterns so erected, posted or placed pursuant to this section, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor,” the law states.

The bill unanimously passed the N.C. House and Senate on March 13 and June 26, respectively.

Municipal road closures during emergencies

Local declarations of emergencies now include the ability of municipalities to close roads or other areas of regular vehicle traffic, according to a new law S.L. 2019-89, signed into law on July 8.

The law gives the authority to the local sheriff to make emergency road closure designations during emergency declarations, with notice required to be given to the local N.C. Department of Transportation office. Previously, road closures during local emergency events was not explicitly delegated.

The bill unanimously passed the N.C. House and Senate on May 3 and June 26, respectively.

Removing political signs

Citizens can now remove political signage located within a right-of-way more than 30 days following Election Day starting in November, according to S.L. 2019-119, signed into law on July 11.

All political signs left 30 days following an election are deemed “unlawfully placed and abandoned property,” and a person may remove and dispose of the signs.

Precinct voting locations can now have candidate signage within designated areas for the 36 hours before Election Day voting starts and 36 hours after the precincts close. Otherwise, signage can be removed by the property owner.

The bill passed the N.C. Senate 48-0 on April 2 and the N.C. House 115-1 on June 25, with the changes concurred in the Senate on June 27.

Masks for motorcyclists

S.L. 2019-115 officially allows motorcyclists to wear a mask and mandates they must remove the mask during a traffic stop or checkpoint or road block when approached by a law enforcement officer.

The bill passed the N.C. House 111-1 on March 27 an the N.C. Senate 48-0 on June 27. Cooper signed the bill into law on June 11.

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