New N.C. laws cover immigration status, fishing, used cooking oil

On Tuesday, new rules govern worker immigration status, fishing, used cooking oil, more

abaird@newsobserver.comDecember 29, 2012 

Sixteen new laws take effect Tuesday.

Most are technical fixes, but there are new ones that affect companies selling kitchen grease, day care owners and fishermen.

Some of the more noteworthy changes:

E-Verify

A law passed in 2011 that takes a phased approach at requiring government agencies and businesses to verify employees’ immigration status will expand to include smaller businesses.

Cities, counties and companies with more than 500 employees are already required to use federal E-Verify software, but businesses with 100 to 500 employees will also need to comply. The law will be in full effect July 1, when companies with 25 to 100 employees need to comply.

Protecting grease

A modification to the state’s Rendering Act offers harsher penalties to those who steal used cooking oil.

Steal more than $1,000 worth of grease and you’ll be charged with a felony; less than that and it’s a misdemeanor.

Kitchen grease has become a valuable commodity because it’s also used in producing biodiesel fuel.

Changes to the original law also make it easier for small businesses that 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.

House Bill 512 was sponsored by Rep. John Torbett, R-Stanley.

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.

Senate Bill 821 was sponsored by Sens. Harry Brown, R-Jacksonville, Thom Goolsby, R-Wilmington, and Bill Rabon, R-Southport.

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.

House Bill 1085 was sponsored by Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Cary.

Day care protections

Owners of child-care facilities have long been regulated by the state, and will now face more regulations.

Several criminal offenses have been added to a list of crimes the facilities will check for during mandatory criminal background checks: burglary, larceny, credit fraud, identity theft, bribery, riots and cruelty to animals.

The state will also be allowed to prevent someone who is a habitual alcohol user, consumer of illicit drugs or mentally or emotionally unstable from running a child-care facility.

The law, from House Bill 737, was sponsored by Reps. Ruth Samuelson, R-Charlotte; Fred Steen, R-Landis; Beverly Earle, D-Charlotte; and William Brisson, D-Dublin.

Baird: 919-829-4696

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