Raleigh, N.C. — Three senators on Wednesday filed a wide-ranging regulatory reform bill that would, among other things, exempt people who voluntarily report environmental violations from civil penalties, expunge criminal records for various juvenile offenses, increase the penalty for illegally parking in handicapped spaces and allow cursing on highways.
Senate leaders boasted that the bill marks the fifth straight year the Republican-led legislature is pursuing regulatory reform.
"For decades, unnecessary government regulation was a real roadblock to job creation in North Carolina," sponsor Sens. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford, Andrew Brock, R-Davie, and Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, said in a statement. "This bill continues our efforts to remove ambiguous, onerous, obsolete and sometimes ridiculous regulations that increase the burden and expense on North Carolina families and job-creating businesses, but do little to serve the public interest."
Senate Bill 453 would establish a procedure for anyone who falls under state environmental regulation to audits their compliance programs and management systems and makes them immune from any civil or administrative fines and other penalties if they voluntarily disclose any violations to regulators within 14 days of discovering it.
The bill also scales back the frequency of various environmental reports, both by state agencies and by manufacturers.
Other provisions of the bill would do the following:
- Repeal a state law that made it illegal to use "profane or indecent language on public highways."
- Increase the fine for illegally parking in a handicapped space from a range of $100 to $250 to a range of $250 to $500.
- Allow people to break into cars, boats and other craft to rescue someone in need of medical attention.
- Expunge the criminal records of first-time offenders convicted under age 18 of various misdemeanors, gang-related offenses or non-violent felonies and the records of first-time offenders under age 21 for various drug offenses.
- Increase the fine for having someone 16 or younger without a seat belt in a vehicle from $25 to $100.
- Allow more widespread use of "temporary erosion control structures" on coastal properties.