NC House Committee Rolls Out 2017 Regulatory Reform Omnibus Bill

In what’s become an annual hallmark of the approaching end of session, House lawmakers rolled out this year’s regulatory reform omnibus in committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 16, as most omnibus bills do, addresses an array of regulations that lawmakers want to change, from vehicle safety inspections to staffing levels at so-called “doggie day cares.”

Many of the parts of the bill reflect other measures that have passed either the House or the Senate but haven’t yet completed the legislative process. That includes a proposal to allow private pipeline companies to use eminent domain to condemn land for their right-of-way, but only for public use, and another provision requiring companies that offer automatically renewing contracts to notify consumers in advance of the renewal date.

The House had also already voted to reduce the required staff-to-dog ratio at animal boarding facilities that offer day care and to allow auto dealers to sell salvage vehicles without having them inspected first.

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However, several other provisions dealt with issues that have been controversial in the past.

One would remove the state requirement that businesses that sell security alarm systems must register their sales people with the state’s Alarm Systems Board. In the past, in-state alarm companies have said the requirement protects consumers. But sponsor Rep. John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg, said cable companies that want to offer internet-based alarm systems shouldn’t have to register every salesperson that might make sales calls to North Carolina consumers. Alarm systems designers and installers would still be regulated.

Another provision that was discussed at some length would lower the threshold for small businesses to be able to buy stop-loss insurance to back up self-insurance or small-insurer coverage. The current threshold is 26 or more employees, meaning businesses with fewer employees have to buy coverage from a larger insurer. The bill would lower the threshold to five employees, which Bradford represented as a compromise.

Environmental groups expressed concern with a provision that would prevent cities from requiring better stormwater control when properties are redeveloped, even if the property was originally “grandfathered in” with little or no runoff control when current stormwater runoff laws were passed.

Another provision adds back-up lights to the list of lights covered by the state vehicle safety inspection, but it also requires the Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Quality to examine whether vehicle safety and emissions inspections should be required less frequently than once a year.

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