Gov. Roy Cooper signed another 21 bills into law on Friday, dropping the number of bills remaining on his desk to 24.
Three of the bills Cooper signed relate to the state National Guard, and former service members in the National Guard as well.
The bills, now signed into law, clarify employment protections for National Guard soldiers, ensure that servicemen and servicewomen will not fall behind in education due to guard service and also allow guardsmen to purchase from Corrections Enterprises.
The first, HB120, simply includes current and retired National Guard members in the pool of state-affiliated personnel that can buy from Corrections Enterprises, the state-run production of goods made by prisoners for sale to nonprofits and governmental bodies.
Current and retired state employees and National Guard members can buy up to $2,500 in goods a year and those goods cannot be resold.
Corrections Enterprises products include everything from metal and woodworking products to eyeglasses and retail items.
The bill became active immediately when signed by the governor into law.
House Bill 486 was passed to ensure that those serving in the state National Guard will be insulated from falling behind in their education because of their service to the state.
The law allows for students to complete schoolwork remotely, take incompletes until the coursework can be completed or to drop classes without penalty when called into state service.
It also extends tuition benefits to professional certification programs.
Probably the most publicly visible measure in the bill is a section that will ensure that the state’s veterans’ cemeteries will continue to receive funding, a question mark in the budget most recently passed.
The public face of the issue was the East Carolina State Veterans Cemetery in Goldsboro, which is specifically mentioned in the bill.
The section regarding the cemeteries became active when the bill became law, and the rest will become law when the new education year begins.
The final bill signed into law, HB487, is meant to better define and clarify the state law requiring that National Guard members are protected from losing their jobs due to military service, reflecting the national Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
USERRA protects service members from losing their jobs due to everything from weekend drill duty, to annual training and even deployments.
Under federal law employees have a certain amount of time to return to work following a stretch of military service, depending on the amount of time in service, that an employer must place the employee back in their job at the same or increased pay, depending on how they would have progressed in the time they were absent.
Under the state law an employer must reemploy a National Guard member that has been released from state duty within five days of notice from the employee.
For duties less than 30 days the employee must let their employer know they are back before the first regularly scheduled time they would work , at least eight hours after being released from state duty.
For longer duties the timeline is extended to 14 days for an employee to notify their employer.
For those that are injured the timeframe is two years, but can be extended by the Commissioner of Labor, if the correct steps are taken.
That extension is also open for appeal by the employer.
The law applies to duties undertaken on or after the date the legislation became law.
Cooper also signed into law another 18 bills including:
HB155: Omnibus Education Law Changes.
HB236: NCAOC Omnibus Bill.
HB462: Banking Law Amendments.
HB716: CMVs/Use of Platoons.
HB799: Utility Billing by Lessors.
SB384: Criminal Law Changes.