GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA
HOUSE BILL 181
Committee Substitute Favorable 3/22/17
Short Title: First Responders Act of 2017.
February 23, 2017
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT TO MAKE VARIOUS CHANGES TO THE LAWS APPLYING TO FIRST RESPONDERS.
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
PART I. TAX DEDUCTION FOR FIREFIGHTERS
SECTION 1.(a) G.S. 105‑153.5 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:
"(e) Other Adjustments. In calculating North Carolina taxable income, a taxpayer who is an eligible firefighter or an eligible rescue squad worker may deduct from adjusted gross income the sum of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00). In the case of a married couple filing a joint return, each spouse may qualify separately for the deduction allowed under this subsection. In order to claim the deduction allowed under this subsection, the taxpayer must submit with the tax return any documentation required by the Secretary. An individual may not claim a deduction as both an eligible firefighter and as an eligible rescue squad worker in a single taxable year. The following definitions apply in this subsection:
(1) Eligible firefighter. An unpaid member of a volunteer fire department who attended at least 36 hours of fire department drills and meetings during the taxable year.
(2) Eligible rescue squad worker. An unpaid member of a volunteer rescue or emergency medical services squad who attended at least 36 hours of rescue squad training and meetings during the taxable year."
SECTION 1.(b) This section is effective for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2017.
PART II. PROPERTY TAX HOMESTEAD EXCLUSION FOR SURVIVING SPOUSE OF QUALIFYING EMERGENCY PERSONNEL
SECTION 2.(a) Article 12 of Subchapter II of Chapter 105 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:
"§ 105‑277.1E. Surviving spouse property tax homestead exclusion.
(a) Classification. A permanent residence owned and occupied by a qualifying owner is designated a special class of property under Section 2(2) of Article V of the North Carolina Constitution and is taxable in accordance with this section. The appraised value of the permanent residence is excluded from taxation. A qualifying owner who receives an exclusion under this section may not receive other property tax relief.
(b) Definitions. The following definitions apply in this section:
(1) Emergency personnel officer. Firefighting, search and rescue, or emergency medical services personnel or any employee of any duly accredited State or local government agency possessing authority to enforce the criminal laws of the State who (i) is actively serving in a position with assigned primary duties and responsibilities for prevention and detection of crime or the general enforcement of the criminal laws of the State and (ii) possesses the power of arrest by virtue of an oath administered under the authority of the State.
(2) Permanent residence. Defined in G.S. 105‑277.1.
(3) Property tax relief. Defined in G.S. 105‑277.1.
(4) Qualifying owner. An owner, as defined in G.S. 105‑277.1, who is a North Carolina resident and is the surviving spouse who has not remarried of an emergency personnel officer who was killed in the line of duty.
(c) Temporary Absence. An owner does not lose the benefit of this exclusion because of a temporary absence from his or her permanent residence for reasons of health or because of an extended absence while confined to a rest home or nursing home, so long as the residence is unoccupied or occupied by a dependent of the owner.
(d) Other Multiple Owners. This subsection applies to co‑owners who are not husband and wife. Each co‑owner of a permanent residence must apply separately for the exclusion allowed under this section.
When one or more co‑owners of a permanent residence qualify for the exclusion allowed under this section and none of the co‑owners qualifies for the exclusion allowed under G.S. 105‑277.1, each co‑owner is entitled to the full amount of the exclusion allowed under this section. The exclusion allowed to one co‑owner may not exceed the co‑owner's proportionate share of the valuation of the property, and the amount of the exclusion allowed to all the co‑owners may not exceed the exclusion allowed under this section.
When one or more co‑owners of a permanent residence qualify for the exclusion allowed under this section and one or more of the co‑owners qualify for the exclusion allowed under G.S. 105‑277.1, each co‑owner who qualifies for the exclusion allowed under this section is entitled to the full amount of the exclusion. The exclusion allowed to one co‑owner may not exceed the co‑owner's proportionate share of the valuation of the property, and the amount of the exclusion allowed to all the co‑owners may not exceed the greater of the exclusion allowed under this section and the exclusion allowed under G.S. 105‑277.1.
(e) Application. An application for the exclusion allowed under this section should be filed during the regular listing period but may be filed and must be accepted at any time up to and through June 1 preceding the tax year for which the exclusion is claimed. Persons may apply for this property tax relief by entering the appropriate information on a form made available by the assessor under G.S. 105‑282.1."
SECTION 2.(b) G.S. 105‑282.1(a) reads as rewritten:
"(a) Application. Every owner of property claiming exemption or exclusion from property taxes under the provisions of this Subchapter has the burden of establishing that the property is entitled to it. If the property for which the exemption or exclusion is claimed is appraised by the Department of Revenue, the application shall be filed with the Department. Otherwise, the application shall be filed with the assessor of the county in which the property is situated. An application must contain a complete and accurate statement of the facts that entitle the property to the exemption or exclusion and must indicate the municipality, if any, in which the property is located. Each application filed with the Department of Revenue or an assessor shall be submitted on a form approved by the Department. Application forms shall be made available by the assessor and the Department, as appropriate.
Except as provided below, an owner claiming an exemption or exclusion from property taxes must file an application for the exemption or exclusion annually during the listing period.
(2) Single application required. An owner of one or more of the following properties eligible for a property tax benefit must file an application for the benefit to receive it. Once the application has been approved, the owner does not need to file an application in subsequent years unless new or additional property is acquired or improvements are added or removed, necessitating a change in the valuation of the property, or there is a change in the use of the property or the qualifications or eligibility of the taxpayer necessitating a review of the benefit.
a. Property exempted from taxation under G.S. 105‑278.3, 105‑278.4, 105‑278.5, 105‑278.6, 105‑278.7, or 105‑278.8.
b. Special classes of property excluded from taxation under G.S. 105‑275(3), (7), (8), (12), (17), (18), (19), (20), (21), (31e), (35), (36), (38), (39), (41), or (45) or under G.S. 105‑277.1E or G.S. 131A‑21.
c. Special classes of property classified for taxation at a reduced valuation under G.S. 105‑277(h), 105‑277.1, 105‑277.1C, 105‑277.10, 105‑277.13, 105‑277.14, 105‑277.15, 105‑277.17, or 105‑278.
SECTION 2.(c) This section is effective for taxes imposed for taxable years beginning on or after July 1, 2017.
PART III. ALLOW COMPANY POLICE OFFICERS AND HOSPITAL SECURITY TO TAKE PERSONS INTO CUSTODY FOR EXAMINATION BY PHYSICIAN OR ELIGIBLE PSYCHOLOGIST
SECTION 3. The title of Part 7 of Article 5 of Chapter 122C of the General Statutes and G.S. 122C‑261 read as rewritten:
"Part 7. Involuntary Commitment
the Mentally Ill;Persons with Mental Illness; Facilities for the
Mentally Ill.Persons With Mental Illness.
"§ 122C‑261. Affidavit and petition before clerk or magistrate when immediate hospitalization is not necessary; custody order.
(a) Anyone who has knowledge
of an individual who
is mentally illhas a mental illness and is
either (i) dangerous to self, as defined in G.S. 122C‑3(11)a., or
dangerous to others, as defined in G.S. 122C‑3(11)b., or (ii) in
need of treatment in order to prevent further disability or deterioration that
would predictably result in dangerousness, may appear before a clerk or
assistant or deputy clerk of superior court or a magistrate and execute an
affidavit to this effect, and petition the clerk or magistrate for issuance of
an order to take the respondent into custody for examination by a physician or
eligible psychologist. The affidavit shall include the facts on which the
affiant's opinion is based. If the affiant has knowledge or reasonably believes
that the respondent, in addition to being mentally ill,having a
mental illness, is also mentally retarded,has an intellectual
disability, this fact shall be stated in the affidavit. Jurisdiction under
this subsection is in the clerk or magistrate in the county where the
respondent resides or is found.
(b) If the clerk or
magistrate finds reasonable grounds to believe that the facts alleged in the
affidavit are true and that the respondent
is probably mentally illhas
a mental illness and is either (i) dangerous to self, as defined in
G.S. 122C‑3(11)a., or dangerous to others, as defined in
G.S. 122C‑3(11)b., or (ii) in need of treatment in order to prevent
further disability or deterioration that would predictably result in
dangerousness, the clerk or magistrate shall issue an order to a take
the respondent into custody for examination by a physician or eligible
psychologist. The order shall be issued to any of the following persons:
(1) A law enforcement
(2) A company police officer commissioned under Chapter 74E of the General Statutes who is present at and assigned to the 24‑hour facility or area facility where the respondent is located.
(3) A security officer employed by the facility or employed by a company contracting with the facility who is present at and assigned to the 24‑hour facility or area facility where the respondent is located.
or anyAny other person authorized
under G.S. 122C‑251 to take the respondent into custody for
examination by a physician or eligible psychologist.G.S. 122C‑251.
If the clerk or magistrate finds
that, in addition to probably
being mentally ill,having a mental
illness, the respondent is also probably mentally retarded,has
an intellectual disability, the clerk or magistrate shall contact the area
authority before issuing a custody order and the area authority shall designate
the facility to which the respondent is to be taken for examination by a
physician or eligible psychologist. The clerk or magistrate shall provide the
petitioner and the respondent, if present, with specific information regarding
the next steps that will occur for the respondent.
(d) If the affiant is a physician or eligible psychologist, all of the following apply:
(6) If the clerk or
magistrate finds probable cause to believe that the respondent, in addition to
mentally ill,having a mental illness, is also mentally retarded,has
an intellectual disability, the clerk or magistrate shall contact the area
authority before issuing the order and the area authority shall designate the
facility to which the respondent is to be transported.
(f) When a petition is filed for an individual who is a resident of a single portal area, the procedures for examination by a physician or eligible psychologist as set forth in G.S. 122C‑263 shall be carried out in accordance with the area plan. Prior to issuance of a custody order for a respondent who resides in an area authority with a single portal plan, the clerk or magistrate shall communicate with the area authority to determine the appropriate 24‑hour facility to which the respondent should be admitted according to the area plan or to determine if there are more appropriate resources available through the area authority to assist the petitioner or the respondent. When an individual from a single portal area is presented for commitment at a 24‑hour area or State facility directly, the individual may not be accepted for admission until the facility notifies the area authority and the area authority agrees to the admission. If the area authority does not agree to the admission, it shall determine the appropriate 24‑hour facility to which the individual should be admitted according to the area plan or determine if there are more appropriate resources available through the area authority to assist the individual. If the area authority agrees to the admission, further planning of treatment for the client is the joint responsibility of the area authority and the facility as prescribed in the area plan.
Notwithstanding the provisions of
this section, in no event shall an individual known or reasonably believed to
mentally retardedhave an intellectual disability be admitted to a
State psychiatric hospital, except as follows:
(1) Persons described in G.S. 122C‑266(b);
(2) Persons admitted pursuant to G.S. 15A‑1321;
(3) Respondents who are so extremely dangerous as to pose a serious threat to the community and to other patients committed to non‑State hospital psychiatric inpatient units, as determined by the Director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services or his designee; and
(4) Respondents who are so gravely disabled by both multiple disorders and medical fragility or multiple disorders and deafness that alternative care is inappropriate, as determined by the Director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services or his designee.
Individuals transported to a State
the mentally illpersons with mental illness who are
not admitted by the facility may be transported by law enforcement officers or
designated staff of the State facility in State‑owned vehicles to an
appropriate 24‑hour facility that provides psychiatric inpatient care.
No later than 24 hours after the transfer, the responsible professional at the original facility shall notify the petitioner, the clerk of court, and, if consent is granted by the respondent, the next of kin, that the transfer has been completed."
PART IV. INTERSTATE ACCESS STUDY
SECTION 4.(a) Study. The Department of Transportation shall study the needs of law enforcement, emergency medical and emergency management personnel, and firefighters to improve access to or within the interstate system within this State for the benefit of public safety. In conducting the study, the Department of Transportation may consult with the Division of Emergency Management of the Department of Public Safety, the Office of State Fire Marshal of the Department of Insurance, the Office of Emergency Medical Services of the Department of Health and Human Services, and any other State or local government organizations the Department of Transportation determines may be of assistance in the course of the study. In performing the study, the Department of Transportation shall, at a minimum, take the following steps:
(1) Consult with county Fire Marshal Divisions, Emergency Management Offices, and Emergency Medical Service Divisions to determine potential sites of interest for construction or improvement relevant to the study.
(2) Establish criteria to prioritize sites of interest for either construction or improvement.
(3) Review applicable federal and State laws, codes, standards, and studies relevant to the study.
(4) Review (i) existing Department of Transportation planning, design, and construction standards for interchanges, median crossovers, and access points and (ii) how those standards consider the needs of law enforcement, emergency medical and emergency management personnel, and firefighters.
(5) Consider the feasibility of providing opportunities for stakeholder input during the planning of future interstate improvements that focus on the needs of law enforcement, emergency medical and emergency management personnel, and firefighters.
(6) Examine any other matters the Department of Transportation deems relevant in the course of the study.
SECTION 4.(b) Report. The Department of Transportation shall report the findings and recommendations, including any legislative proposals, to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety, Joint Emergency Management Oversight Committee, and Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee no later than March 1, 2018.
PART V. LOCAL FIREFIGHTER RELIEF FUND ELIGIBILITY
SECTION 5.(a) G.S. 58‑84‑35(a) reads as rewritten:
"§ 58‑84‑35. Disbursement of funds by trustees.
(a) The board of trustees shall have entire control of the funds derived from the provisions of this Article, and shall disburse the funds only for the following purposes:
(2a) To provide assistance,
upon approval by the Executive Director of the North Carolina State
Firefighters' Association, to a destitute member firefighter who has served or
is serving honorably
for at least five years.with a certified
fire department. The determination of destitute shall be based on the
inability of the firefighters, through no fault of their own, to provide basic
provisions to themselves or their families. Such basic provisions include, but
are not limited to, assistance with housing, vehicle or commuting expenses,
food, clothing, utilities, medical care, and funeral expenses.
SECTION 5.(b) This section becomes effective July 1, 2017, and applies to distributions to local firefighters' relief funds on or after that date.
PART VI. CDL/CLARIFY EXEMPTION FOR EMERGENCY VEHICLES
SECTION 6.(a) G.S. 20‑7(a)(3) reads as rewritten:
"(3) Class C. A Class C license authorizes the holder to drive any of the following:
a. A Class C motor vehicle that is not a commercial motor vehicle.
b. When operated by a volunteer member of a fire department, a rescue squad, or an emergency medical service (EMS) in the performance of duty, a Class A or Class B fire‑fighting, rescue, or EMS motor vehicle or a combination of these vehicles. For purposes of this sub‑subdivision, (i) the term "performance of duty" includes any official business of a fire department, rescue squad, or EMS that requires use of the vehicle and (ii) the term "official business" includes training and the performance of maintenance.
c. A combination of noncommercial motor vehicles that have a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds. This sub‑subdivision does not apply to a Class C license holder less than 18 years of age."
SECTION 6.(b) G.S. 20‑37.16(e) reads as rewritten:
"(e) The requirements for a commercial drivers license do not apply to vehicles used for personal use such as recreational vehicles. A commercial drivers license is also waived for the following classes of vehicles as permitted by regulation of the United States Department of Transportation:
(2) Any vehicle when used as
firefighting or emergency equipment for the purpose of preserving life or
or to executeproperty; executing emergency governmental functions.functions;
or other official business of a fire department, rescue squad, or emergency
medical service that requires use of the vehicle. For purposes of this
subdivision, the term "official business" includes training and the
performance of maintenance.
PART VII. HATE CRIMES AGAINST EMERGENCY PERSONNEL
SECTION 7.(a) Article 52 of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:
"§ 14‑401.14A. Hate crime against emergency personnel.
(a) The following definitions apply in this section:
(1) Emergency personnel. As defined in G.S. 14‑288.9.
(2) Serious bodily injury. As defined in G.S. 14‑32.4.
(b) Unless the conduct is covered by another provision of law providing greater punishment, if anyone assaults another person because the person is emergency personnel and inflicts serious bodily injury on the other person, the offender is guilty of a Class H felony.
(c) Unless the conduct is covered by another provision of law providing greater punishment, if anyone assaults another person with a firearm because the person is emergency personnel, the offender is guilty of a Class F felony.
(d) Anyone who, with the intent of harming a person who is emergency personnel, lures the person to a location by falsely reporting or having another individual falsely report that emergency services are needed and then assaults that person because the person is emergency personnel is guilty of a Class E felony."
SECTION 7.(b) This section becomes effective December 1, 2017, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.
PART VIII. CONCEALED CARRY FOR CERTAIN EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES PERSONNEL
SECTION 8.(a) G.S. 14‑269 reads as rewritten:
"§ 14‑269. Carrying concealed weapons.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person willfully and intentionally to carry concealed about his or her person any bowie knife, dirk, dagger, slung shot, loaded cane, metallic knuckles, razor, shuriken, stun gun, or other deadly weapon of like kind, except when the person is on the person's own premises.
(b) This prohibition shall not apply to the following persons:
(10) Emergency medical services personnel, as defined in G.S. 131E‑155, while on duty, who are deployed as part of their official duties providing tactical medical assistance to law enforcement in an emergency situation, including a Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) operation. In order to qualify under this subdivision, emergency services personnel shall have completed an approved tactical medical assistance course for supporting tactical law enforcement operations. An approved course shall (i) include an element on firearms safety and training, (ii) include instruction in the laws of this State governing the use of deadly force, and (iii) require training and qualification on all weapons systems, both lethal and less than lethal, deemed necessary by any law enforcement agency the emergency services personnel supports. For purposes of this subdivision, an approved course shall be any course which satisfies the requirements of this subdivision and is certified or sponsored by one or more of the following organizations:
a. The North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.
b. The National Rifle Association.
c. A law enforcement agency, college, private or public institution or organization, or firearms training school, taught by instructors certified by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission or the National Rifle Association.
Every instructor of an approved course shall file a copy of the course description, outline, and proof of certification annually, or upon modification of the course if more frequently, with the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.
SECTION 8.(b) State and local law enforcement agencies shall provide paramedics rendering tactical medical assistance during a Special Weapons and Tactics operation with the same protective equipment provided to other members of a Special Weapons and Tactics operation.
PART IX. EFFECTIVE DATE
SECTION 9. Except as otherwise provided, this act is effective when it becomes law.