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State mammal, online liquor sales, driverless delivery vehicle bills OK'd by NC House in late session

State House lawmakers churned through 48 bills in a late-night session Tuesday, trying to beat the legislature's Thursday deadline for policy-related measures to pass either the House or the Senate.

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By
Laura Leslie
, WRAL Capitol Bureau chief
RALEIGH, N.C. — State House lawmakers churned through 48 bills in a late-night session Tuesday, trying to beat the legislature's Thursday deadline for policy-related measures to pass either the House or the Senate.

Most of the bills were selected for the late session because they were not controversial and unlikely to spark much debate.

The so-called "crossover" deadline always sparks an avalanche of bills in each chamber. Most will not be heard by the other chamber, while others may be rolled into larger, omnibus bills. And the deadline can be – and frequently is – subverted by parliamentary procedure. But the spirit of the deadline is observed more often than not by legislative leaders.

Following are some of the bills that passed the House on Tuesday night. All passed either unanimously or nearly unanimously, and none received any serious debate. But many would make substantive changes to state policy:

  • House Bill 96, allowing pharmacists to administer injectable drugs and vaccines
  • House Bill 402 would remove the 45-day waiting period for people convicted of driving while impaired to be eligible for an ignition interlock system that allows them to drive again. It also creates an assistance fund to help low-income people pay for the devices.
  • House Bill 524, requiring insurers to cover oral chemotherapy at the same level as intravenous treatments during an emergency like the pandemic
  • House Bill 544 would make it a crime to take anyone under 18 to a cockfight or any other animal fight.
  • House Bill 584, making a veteran's post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis a mitigating factor in criminal sentencing
  • House Bill 621 would increase the state's minimum school dropout age from 16 to 18. The minimum age would increase in six-month increments for each of the next five years, reaching 18 in the 2025-26 school year.
  • House Bill 671 changes the state mammal, currently the gray squirrel, to the black bear.
  • House Bill 736 would require the state Department of Health and Human Services to add new federally recommended screening tests for newborns more quickly than the state has been doing.
  • House Bill 769 establishes a Foster Parents’ Bill of Rights.
  • House Bill 814 would allow driverless "neighborhood occupant-less delivery vehicles" to operate at speeds of up to 45 mph.
  • House Bill 890 would allow online sales of liquor from state Alcoholic Beverage Control stores as long as the person who places the order picks it up and also allows a maximum sale of two drinks, rather than one, at university venues.

None of these bills will become law unless they pass the state Senate by the end of 2022.

House leaders saved the more controversial bills for Wednesday, including measures to ban schools from teaching "critical race theory," allow lawmakers and other elected state officials to carry concealed weapons at the legislature and anywhere else except schools, and create a lifetime concealed carry permit in North Carolina. That voting session is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m.

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