S.B. 762, also known as the N.C. Farm Act of 2022 was signed into law Friday by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, along with 18 other bills, the newly proposed state budget still not one of them.
The bill had become controversial after language legalizing hemp was removed two weeks ago. That was rectified with the passage of S.B. 455, Conform Hemp with Federal Law, which was signed into law by Cooper on June 30.
Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, said he was disappointed with the decision to take the language out of S.B. 462 but was pleased that S.B. 455 passed. “Hemp was dead yesterday in the House, but this body sitting here, including myself, have supported every Farm Act we have done, and we support our farmers whether they are a 25,000-acre grain farmer in our northeast, or they are a half-acre hemp farmer or herb farmer in the mountains of North Carolina, we stand with our farmers,” he said on the Senate floor June 29.
S.B. 462 includes the clarification of the applicability of the farm building exception to the building code, clarifies the meaning of agricultural use, and preserves conservation easements after property tax foreclosures.
Jackson said they took out the original portion of the bill called Right to Repair after a discussion in the Senate Agriculture Committee. They decided to change it to a study and hold hearings across the state so they can hear from farmers, manufacturers.
S.B. 671, Virtual Educ./Remote Acad./Virtual Charters, was also signed into law. It was designed to shore up processes and regulations surrounding the creation and operation of virtual public and charter schools. Supporters said the bill is necessary to ensure virtual academies serve students and families well in the wake of the COVID
The measure allows public school districts to replace inclement weather days requiring school closure with remote education days. It also opens the door for school districts to open virtual academies on their own. It establishes parameters for how a virtual academy is defined, enrollment stipulations, mandates on hardware and software provided to students, and operation and evaluation procedures. Only 15% of a district’s student population would be allowed to attend virtual school under the bill.
Cooper also signed the following bills into law, H.B. 619, Weston’s Law, H.B. 776 Remote Electronic Notarization, S.B. 435, Terminations of States of Emergency, H.B. 560, Public Safety Reform, H.B. 869, State Bar Grievance Process/Ethics Records, S.B. 769, GSC Postponement/Judicial & Execution Sales, S.B. 768 GSC Technical Corrections 2022/Additional TC, H.B. 1018, GSC Bar Ass’n Proposals/Landmark Designation, S.B. 138, Funeral Dir. Exam/Death Certs, S.B. 339, 2022 WRC Amendments, S.B. 424, Private Protective Srvs. Licensing Mods, S.B. 651, Amend Veterinary Practice Act/DACS Budget, S.B. 201, Var. Motor Veh. And Transport. Law Changes, H.B. 661, AgeReq. Mod’s/CapProj.Oversight/BEAD correct, H.B. 177, Extend Spiking Moratorium/LGERS Surety, H.B. 159, Education Law Changes, and H.B. 792, Barbers/Electrolysis Boards/Merger.
David Bass contributed to this article.