The Daily Southerner
The New Year ushered in 16 new state laws that ran the gamut, from stealing grease from restaurants to requiring extensive background checks for all child-care workers and volunteers.
Owners of child-care facilities have long been regulated by the state, and will now face even more regulation.
Several offenses have been added to a list of crimes to be checked during mandatory criminal background checks, including burglary, larceny, credit fraud, identity theft, bribery, riots and cruelty to animals.
The new law will also prevent someone who is an habitual alcohol user, consumer of illicit drugs or mentally or emotionally unstable from running a child-care facility.
The old law only required background checks for some daycare employees. The new law requires background checks for everyone including volunteers, temporary workers, and people who watch children out of their homes. They will then be checked every three years thereafter.
Linda Knight is the owner of Think & Grow Child Care centers in Tarboro. Knight operates three centers with 150 children and 37 employees. Two of her centers are 5-star rated while the other is 4 stars. She said the new law suits her just fine.
“I’m all for it,” said Knight, “We need to know before hand who we are hiring. I was in a situation once when I hired a person who was on probation. When I found out, I had to let her go. The new law is great.”
Another new law that involves employers, is a requirement for companies with more than 100 employees to check the legal status of new hires. Come July, that law will apply to companies with 25 or more workers.
Employers with more than 500 employees are already required to use federal E-Verify software, but businesses with 100 to 500 employees will now need to comply. The law will fully be in full July 1, when companies with 25 to 100 employees must comply.
The program ensures that potential and current employees are legal U.S. residents and are elgible to work.
Other new laws include:
• Used cooking grease
With used kitchen grease becoming a valuable commodity because it can also be used to produce biodiesel fuel, stealing more than $1,000 worth of grease is now a felony; less than that and the charges will be a misdemeanor.
Changes to the original law also make it easier for small businesses to collect the grease. Instead of requiring a state license and requiring $1 million in liability insurance as the law originally stated, collectors must now provide a certificate of grease ownership. The liability insurance requirement shifts to the companies making biodiesel.
• Fishing without a net
Industrial-scale purse seine fishing for Menhaden and Atlantic Thread Herring has been banned. A law, which calls for studying fees associated with coastal fishing licenses, makes it illegal to take those species of fish with a purse seine net using a mother ship and runner boats in coastal fishing waters.
The goal is to conserve the fish populations.
• Dependent children
The state health plan for teachers and public employees has been changed so the definition of “dependent child” complies with the Affordable Care Act. Previously, parents of foster children and court-appointed guardians needed to be legally responsible‚ for caring for a child to claim them as a dependent. Now, caretakers of any child may claim them as a dependent.
For the complete list of the new laws, go to www.ncleg.net