New Year Brings New Laws
Special Report - January 5, 2010
More than 40 new laws will go into effect in North Carolina in 2010, including a ban on smoking in most restaurants and bars, a new sex education curriculum for public school students, a requirement for schools to expand anti-bullying policies to include pro-homosexual language, and changes to ethics, election, and insurance law.
The smoking ban prohibits cigarette smoking in restaurants and bars, but includes an exemption for cigar bars and non-profit private clubs. Violations and lack of enforcement bring fines as high as $50 per violation for customers, and $200 per day for businesses.
The much-debated Healthy Youth Act (HYA) will be implemented at the beginning of the 2010 school year. The HYA amends the state’s sex education curriculum requirements for 7-9th graders to incorporate more information on contraception into the 15 year-old Abstinence-Until-Marriage program. For more information on the law’s changes, see our recent article in Family North Carolina. Also, school boards are required to update their anti-bullying policies for the 2010-2011 school year to include a list of characteristics that could motivate acts of bullying or harassment, including “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” For more details on the new requirements, see our recent article in Family North Carolina.
“All cities, counties, local boards of education, unified government, sanitary districts, and consolidated city-counties” are required to adopt ethics codes. Additionally, members of these governing boards are required to undergo ethics training.
Election law changes include efforts to improve the ability of military and overseas voters to cast ballots on time, increased emphasis on the importance of voting in high schools, and clarification of who is eligible for pre-registration and early voting. HB 908Election Administration Amendments also prohibits the courts from awarding attorneys’ fees against the State Board of Elections when elections are protested and requires local governments to hold a public hearing before implementing instant runoff voting and term ranked choice voting.
Changes to the state health plan, the standard fire insurance policy, health plan provider contracts, and health care provider credentialing all went into effect January 1. Health insurers must now cover the diagnosis and treatment of lymphedema, which is common in breast-cancer patients whose lymph nodes get blocked after a mastectomy.
Car washes are encouraged to employ more efficient water use systems, and tax credits will be available to local governments and landowners who assist in the protection and restoration of water quality and quantity in drinking water supply reservoirs.
Attorneys may not draft a will for persons who include a bequest for the attorney in the will, except for family members. Surviving spouses are entitled to a greater year’s allowance from their deceased spouse’s estate. The Division of Criminal Statistics must collect and publish statistics “on the use of deadly force by law enforcement which results in death.” Additionally, law enforcement must maintain statistics from traffic stops in an attempt to prevent racial profiling. Former law enforcement officers who served at least 15 years are not necessarily required to participate in the complete firearms safety and training to acquire a concealed handgun permit. Handicap permits will be distributed with registration cards to prove ownership, and expiration dates of permits must be visible from at least 20 feet. Film and TV production companies are eligible for an increased tax credit of 25 percent, provided they spend at least $250,000 in the state.
Copyright © 2010. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.