Legislative building

The North Carolina State Legislative Building is located in Raleigh.

RALEIGH — Many bills are currently making their way through the N.C. Legislature, including one that would legalize the use of marijuana in some settings if passed to another bill that could allow campus police officers to take classes for free.

Here are a few of the bills currently being considered in the North Carolina Legislature as well as some that were recently passed into law.

Senate Bill 711

The North Carolina Compassionate Care Act — Senate Bill 711 — is a bill related to medical marijuana in the state.

The bill would allow the use of cannabis — also known as marijuana or weed — for medical purposes. Along those lines, the bill proposes to establish a Medical Cannabis Advisory Board made up of 13 members, which would include physicians, researchers, a pharmacist, a supplier representative and a parent of a minor qualified patient.

A qualified patient is defined in the bill as “a person who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition and has received a written certification.” The bill lists 15 conditions as being “debilitating.”

Those conditions include cancer, epilepsy, those who have AIDS, HIV and ALS, Crohn’s disease, sickle cell anemia, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis, cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or persistent nausea in a person who is not pregnant, and any other medical condition or its treatment added by the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

The PTSD diagnosis is subject to evidence that an applicant experienced one or more traumatic events, according to the bill.

The bill also tasks the University of North Carolina System to “undertake objective, scientific research regarding the administration of cannabis or cannabis-infused products as part of medical treatment.” The UNC System would create a program known as the North Carolina Cannabis Research Program.

If the bill became law, it would be effective as soon as it is applied and only applied to acts committed on and after the date it became law.

The bill has three primary sponsors — two Republicans and one Democrat. It also has three Democrat co-sponsors and one Republican co-sponsor.

The North Carolina Compassionate Care Act passed its first hurdle on June 30 when it passed in the North Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee. It will have to pass through more committees before it gets a vote on the Senate floor.

It was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance on July 1. More information on the bill can be found at www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2021/SB%20711.

House Bill 436

A bill in the legislature — House Bill 436 — proposes the requirement of psychological screenings of law enforcement officers prior to certification or employment, educate law enforcement officers on maintaining good mental health and provide information to law enforcement officers on mental health resources.

The short title for the act is “Support Law Enforcement Mental Health.”

The psychology screening would be administered as an in-person interview conducted by a licensed clinical psychologist to determine the criminal justice officer’s psychological suitability to properly fulfill the responsibilities of the criminal justice officer, according to the bill. The screening would have to be conducted prior to employment and certification.

The bill also requires more education and training for law enforcement officers to develop knowledge and increase awareness of effective mental health and wellness strategies for criminal justice officers.

The act would become effective as soon as it became law. The bill passed in the North Carolina House of Representatives on its second reading 117-0 in favor on May 5. It was last referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate on May 6.

More information on the bill can be found at www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2021/HB%20436.

House Bill 429

The UNC Law Enforcement Education Incentive act — House Bill 429 — would allow for full-time and part-time campus law enforcement officers employed by the University of North Carolina to enroll in as many courses per year as determined by the Board of Governors without payment of tuition and fees.

Enrollment in classes would have to not interfere with normal employment obligations, according to the bill. It also allows a full-time faculty member of the rank of full-time instructor or above and any full-time staff member of the University of North Carolina to enroll in no more than three courses per year.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Education — Universities on March 30. If HB 429 became law, it would go into effect during the 2021-22 academic year. The bill has 22 sponsors, including Rep. Ray Pickett (R – Blowing Rock).

More information on the bill can be found at www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2021/HB%20429.

Eleven bills become law, one vetoed

On July 2, Gov. Roy Cooper signed 11 bills into law and vetoed one bill. The one bill Cooper vetoed was the “Putting North Carolina Back to Work Act” — or SB 116 — which would have cut extra federal unemployment payments to those unemployed in North Carolina.

In a statement announcing the veto, Cooper said that unemployment in the state is declining as more people get vaccinated and into the workforce as the state has strengthened work search requirements for those receiving benefits.

“The federal help that this bill cuts off will only last a few more weeks and it supplements North Carolina’s state benefits, which are among the stingiest in the country,” Cooper said. “Prematurely stopping these benefits hurts our state by sending back money that could be injected into our economy with people using it for things like food and rent. I support strong efforts to make more quality childcare available and to provide businesses with funds for hiring bonuses and the bill falls short on both of these.”

The bills Cooper signed into law range from health care to farming in North Carolina.

House Bill 272 — Revise Health Standards for Lead — updates the childhood lead poisoning prevention law to ensure that young children are not exposed to hazardous lead in drinking water.

HB 272 lowers the definition of a lead hazard in young children’s drinking water in the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention statute from 15 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion, which the bill states would extend lead exposure protection to 30,000 young children in child care settings.

“This legislation takes a key step in protecting children and families from harmful lead exposure,” Cooper said in a statement. “We must continue improving water quality in North Carolinians by helping communities invest in water and wastewater systems using North Carolina’s unprecedented share of federal funding in the American Rescue Plan.”

Another bill Cooper signed into law was House Bill 238 — or an Act to Prohibit the Possession of Credit Card Skimming Devices.

In the bill, a skimming device is defined as a self-contained device that is designed to read and store information encoded on the computer chip, magnetic strip or stripe or other storage mechanism of a financial transaction card or from another device that directly reads the information from a financial transaction card. The skimming device, according to the bill, is incapable of processing the financial transaction card information for the purpose of obtaining, purchasing or receiving goods, services, money or anything else of value from a merchant.

A scanning device is defined in HB 238 as a scanner, reader or any other device that is used to access, read, scan, obtain, memorize or store, temporarily or permanently, information encoded on a financial transaction card.

The bill amended G. S. 14-113.9(a) to add “knowingly possesses, sells, or delivers a skimming device. The prohibition set forth in this subdivision does not apply to an employee, officer or agent of any of the following while acting within the scope of the person’s official duties.”

The official duties include a law enforcement agency, a state or federal court, an agency or department of the state, local or federal government, or a financial or retail security investigator employed by a merchant.

More information on the bills signed into law can be found at tinyurl.com/p9dz2nfm.

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