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New Year Means New Laws

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Some new laws will affect child care workers in North Carolina.
RALEIGH — A new year brings with it new laws, and 1998is no different. Many laws went into effect when the state budget yearstarted in July. But nearly 50 new laws were tied to the first of the new calendar year.

Some simply clarify older laws already on the books, but some willbring significant changes in state policy.

The most sweeping new law going into effect is this state'sbroadest environmental legislation yet -- the Clean Water ResponsibilityAct. It includes a two-year freeze on building new hog farms or expandingold ones, zoning laws that allow counties to decide whether they wantlarge hog operations or not, and new regulations about what can bedischarged into rivers and streams. It's been called a landmark law byboth parties. Governor Jim Hunt says he wants to see future generationsprotected.

Another law adds home care agencies to the long list of groups nowrequired to get criminal background checks on its employees.

The minimum age of a family child care provider now raises from 18 to 21 and, as of the first of the year, child care providers are required tohave a high school diploma in North Carolina.

It will be against the law for insurance companies to cancel coverage tochurches damaged by fire.

A new law gives an income tax credit for any rehabilitation of historicstructures.

And, in an effort to simplify the state's tax collection system, the statetax law will follow federal tax rules starting in 1998, allowing people tofile for an extension even if they do not send a payment.

But even this isn't the end of the line. Other laws are tied to a March1st start date.

The General Assembly returns to Raleigh for the shortsession in May.

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