Local News

New Year Means New Laws

Posted December 30, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— A new year brings with it new laws, and 1998 is no different. Many laws went into effect when the state budget year started 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 will bring significant changes in state policy.

The most sweeping new law going into effect is this state's broadest environmental legislation yet -- the Clean Water Responsibility Act. It includes a two-year freeze on building new hog farms or expanding old ones, zoning laws that allow counties to decide whether they want large hog operations or not, and new regulations about what can be discharged into rivers and streams. It's been called a landmark law by both parties. Governor Jim Hunt says he wants to see future generations protected.

Another law adds home care agencies to the long list of groups now required 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 to have a high school diploma in North Carolina.

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

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

And, in an effort to simplify the state's tax collection system, the state tax law will follow federal tax rules starting in 1998, allowing people to file 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 March 1st start date.

The General Assembly returns to Raleigh for the short session in May.