RALEIGH, N.C. — Portions of more than 50 new laws take effect Tuesday in North Carolina, including those that ease restrictions on concealed weapons in restaurants and education property and place additional rules on abortion.
People with concealed handgun permits can now carry their weapon within a restaurant where alcohol is served, provided they don’t drink or enter an establishment with a sign specifically prohibiting such weapons. Permit holders also will be allowed to store their handgun in a closed compartment inside a locked car at state government parking lots or outside any school. Private colleges can narrow the changes slightly.
The new abortion law makes it illegal starting Tuesday to carry out abortions on the basis of gender and limits abortion coverage in insurance plans offered by cities and counties.
Other new laws taking effect Tuesday in North Carolina will:
– make clear the definition of “recreational facilities” where local governments can regulate the possession of concealed weapons. The definition includes athletic fields, swimming pools and gymnasium but doesn’t include playgrounds, greenways or bike paths.
– prohibit civil actions against North Carolina companies that manufacture, advertise or distribute food on claims their products led to long-term consumption of food or drinks led to excessive weight gain and health problems. The “Commonsense Consumption Act” also makes clear local governments can’t pass ordinances like one passed in New York City prohibiting the sale of large soft drinks.
– direct county social service offices to perform criminal background checks for Work First and food stamps applicants and recipients to ensure they are not parole violators or facing felony charges. The law was vetoed by Gov. Pat McCrory in large part due to another section related to drug testing for welfare applicants, but the legislature overrode the veto. McCrory has said he won’t carry out the drug testing directed to begin next summer until lawmakers fund the program adequately.
– expand criminal punishments for prostitution, solicitation of prostitution and human trafficking, while providing immunity from prosecution for minors suspected or charged with the crime.
– require carbon monoxide detectors in hotel and motel rooms where fossil-fuel heaters or fireplaces are installed in enclosed rooms or very close by. The law is a response to the deaths of three people related to the poisonous gas in the same Boone hotel room.
– set higher registration fees for state government lobbyists and the entities for which they lobby.
– raise penalties for a motorist who causes a motorcyclist to change lanes and get into a serious accident.
– requires that all prisoners in the state adult correction system be tested for HIV.