Legislators have left the North Carolina Capitol, closing out the Long Session last week, leaving behind about 150 bills that either have been acted on, or are awaiting action, by the governor.
Throughout the session many bills that attracted a lot of attention ended up going nowhere, such as the bill to allow for permitless concealed carry, while many bills that flew under the radar were passed.
The omnibus gun bill, HB746, which would have installed permitless carry under the same system that open carry is currently allowed in the state, passed through the House but was parked in the Senate Rules Committee where it remained until the end of the session.
The bill and all of its companions that survived crossover but did not get passed this session,remain alive for the coming 2018 Short Session. But many statehouse observers say that, because of the election in November of that year, the likelihood of major pro-gun reforms happening goes down drastically.
The bill would have codified many current concealed-carry permit law provisions into a new section that allows for permitless concealed carry for qualifying citizens. The bill would have prohibited concealed carry in places that did not currently allow open carry, such as restaurants that serve alcohol, or venues that charge admission.
The bill also included changes to allow legislators and legislative employees to conceal handguns at the legislature, allow the governor and his or her family to keep firearms at the Governor’s Mansion and the Western Residence of the Governor, and allow for concealed carry at houses of worship that also operate schools, with the proviso that the weapon be carried outside of the school operation hours.
A bill that did make it through this session is the bill to allow counties and municipalities to individually decide if alcohol can be sold in their area earlier on Sunday morning, moving from noon to as early as 10 a.m.
The bill, SB155, puts the decision in the hands of town councils and county commissioners across the state, letting them decide what is best for their area.
The law, nicknamed the “brunch bill,” has been the point of much conversation at the General Assembly, as well as in the media and on main streets across the state.
Already some localities have taken up votes on the issue, including the Raleigh City Council, which approved an ordinance for Alcoholic Beverage Control permit holders in the city limits to serve drinks at 10 a.m., as well as Carrboro’s Board of Aldermen, which passed a similar ordinance on Monday.
The Charlotte City Council will likely take up a similar ordinance in the next week or so.
Several contentious bills are awaiting action from Gov. Roy Cooper, including a bill that would install an 18-month moratorium on wind energy production installations while the state researched the effects of wind farms on military assets, which are of great economic importance to the state.
Deep within HB589 is a provision that would establish a moratorium on new facilities, save those that received a Determination of No Hazard to Air
Navigation from the Federal Aviation Administration on or before May, 17, 2013, or those that submitted an application prior to the moratorium’s installation, January 1, 2017.
In the legislation it says the purpose of the bill is to “allow the General Assembly ample time to study the extent and scope of military operations in the State.”
The bill awaits action on Cooper’s desk.
Two transportation bills awaiting action from the governor regulate fully autonomous driving vehicles and light bars on private vehicles.
The first, HB469, would define what a fully autonomous vehicle is, and under what conditions it could be used.
Under the bill, it would be defined as “a motor vehicle equipped with an automated driving system that will not an any time require an occupant to perform any portion of the dynamic driving task when the automated system is engaged.”
The legislation even allows for those 12 years old and older to ride in the vehicle unaccompanied under those conditions.
While self-driving cars are not a reality now, scientists expect they are coming closer and closer each year as many major companies seek to refine the technology to a point where these types of vehicles will be road-ready.
The most concrete portion of the legislation is the portion that establishes the Fully Autonomous Vehicle Committee, within the Department of Transportation. That panel will include representatives of law enforcement agencies and state and local government, legislative leaders, and representatives of the autonomous vehicle and trucking industries.
Another piece of legislation would block the use of light bars, a bar-shaped lighting device comprised of multiple lamps, on public roadways if the intensity of the light was greater than the 25 candlepower limit, and the beam projected more than 50 feet from the vehicle, as established in the law regarding lamps on vehicles.
Twenty-five candlepower is approximately equal to 315 lumens.
The bill would become active in October.