RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s even-year primary elections are moving from May to March and police will get new tools to track illegal opioid transactions as Gov. Roy Cooper signed nearly 30 bills into law Friday.
Cooper announced he’s signed one-third of the more than 75 bills on his desk. He has until Sunday or Monday to sign the remaining ones. Bills neither signed nor vetoed within a 10-day window automatically become law.
The primary will shift from the Tuesday after the first Monday of May to the same day in March, beginning in 2020, for presidential primaries, along with races for governor, Congress and hundreds of federal, state and local positions.
Lawmakers set a March primary in 2016 so presidential candidates would pay more attention to North Carolina. This year’s primary was held in May. The law makes the shift to March permanent. It also means that the candidate filing period for the non-presidential races will move from a roughly three-week period in February to a similar period during December.
The wide-ranging opioid measure, which builds on a 2017 law, makes it a felony for medical professionals to embezzle or divert pain medicines designated for a patient for their personal use or sale.
It also allows local “certified diversion investigators” to obtain records from pharmacies and the state’s controlled substance database without a warrant or court order. Bill supporters say there are layers of safeguards in the measure to ensure the information is provided only for investigations of illegal activity. Critics in the legislature are worried this type of access could be abused and infringe on civil liberties.
Other measures Cooper signed Friday:
— direct that traditional public school students with top scores on end-of-year math tests are placed in advanced math courses the following year.
— rewrite and fill in more details about upcoming plans to shift Medicaid from a traditional fee-for-service program to one in which managed-care companies or regional networks get flat monthly amounts for covered patients. The measure also lays out how current regional mental health agencies will manage physical health treatment for patients.
— change building inspection procedures by local governments and inspector licensing requirements. A House study committee worked out the details with interest groups.
High-profile bills still on Cooper’s desk as of late Friday include one that would alter the state’s early in-person voting period by no longer permitting voting on the last Saturday before an election. Others would alter judicial and prosecutorial districts in more than a dozen counties and place tougher restrictions on neighbors of hog farms seeking to sue for damages over the odor and other livestock operation activities.
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