North Carolina voter ID law goes into effect Jan. 1

By Terri Flagg -

A new law requiring photo identification for North Carolina voters is among those going into effect on Jan. 1.

While this law is still undergoing several challenges in the state court system, at present it will become enforceable with the change-over to 2016.

With exceptions for those with a documented religious objection to being photographed and the loss of identification due to a natural emergency, all registered voters will have to present a valid form of photo identification for their vote to be counted.

The identification requirement extends to any voter wishing to challenge the election.

Those who don’t comply will be given the option to vote a provisional official ballot, complete a reasonable impediment declaration, complete a written request for an absentee ballot.

Forms of identification that will be accepted include: a North Carolina driver’s license, a DMV identification card issued to non-operators, a U.S. passport, military or veteran’s identification card, tribal enrollment cards.

Validity of the voter’s “resemblance” to the photo is at the discretion of official election judges.

Other laws taking effect Jan. 1 include:

• The definition of a “small employer” within the Small Employer Group Health Coverage Reform Act governing health benefit requirements changes from an employer that employs an average from one to 50 employees to one to 100 employees.

The definition is in connection with “non-grandfathered” group health plans.

• For individuals receiving unemployment insurance, the number of job contacts made with potential employers per week increases from two to five. The requirement specifying that those contacts must be made on at least two different days during the week is eliminated.

• Documents issued by the Mexican Consulate for North Carolina or similar institution from another country will no longer be listed as reliable proof of residency for obtaining motor vehicle insurance.

• From Jan. 1 to June 30, the motor fuel excise tax will be 35 cents per gallon. From July 1 to Dec. 31, the tax will be 34 cents per gallon. That’s lower than the current 36 cents per gallon, though critics of the new law say the formula used in the state code will result in higher taxes after 2016.

• The Property Protection Act, which makes any person who engages in an act that exceeds their authority liable to the owner or operator of the premises for any damages sustained.

Those acts include capturing or removing an employer’s electronic data or documents, creating images or sounds with the purpose of using the information to breach the person’s loyalty to the employer; placing an unattended camera or using an electronic surveillance device to record images or data; conspiring in organized retail theft; any act that substantially interferes with the ownership or possession of real property.

• Within the Women and Children’s Protection Act of 2015, physicians performing abortions after a woman’s sixteenth week of pregnancy will be required to report statistical information regarding the procedure to the Department of Health and Human Services.

• Upon written consent from the owner of a motor vehicle, Division of Motor Vehicles may send motor vehicle registration renewal notification by e-mail.

• Abuse and neglect investigations in child care facilities will be transitioned from Departments of Social Services to Division of Child Development and Early Education within the Department of Health and Human Services.

• A new procedure for charter schools to participate in the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System goes into effect, along with rules governing their participation and use of funds.

• Certain disqualifiers for firearm permits stemming from court orders will be reported by clerk of superior court in the county to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System within 48 hours of the judicial determination.

• A new law permitting a representative of a minor, an incapacitated individual or for whom a guardian or guardian ad litem has been appointed to request a consumer reporting agency to place a security freeze on that individual’s credit report.

• The William C. Lindley, Jr SUDEP Law goes into effect. The law requires the chief medical examiner to increase the number of medical examiners for each county from one to two or more.

Continuing education for medical examiners must include training regarding sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) which is a rare condition in which young or middle-aged individuals with epilepsy die without a clear cause.

• The motor fuels tax on liquefied propane gas when used as a motor fuel is applied at a gas gallon equivalence of 5.75 pounds of LPG.

• Within the NC Competes Act, sales of aviation gasoline and jet fuel will be taxed at 4.75 percent. The net proceeds of the tax collected will be transferred at the end of each fiscal year to the highway fund to be appropriated to the Division of Aviation of the Department of Transportation for prioritized capital improvements to public airports and aviation capital improvement projects for economic development purposes. However, fuel used in commercial airliners will no longer be subject to the state sales tax of 7 percent.

• Statutes protecting 911 system providers and employees from liability for damages goes into effect.

By Terri Flagg

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.