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NC legislation ends with final two bills providing cancer benefits to firefighters, regulations for senior care

The last two bills of 2023 were signed by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper last week.

Senate Bill 409 will help firefighters get more insurance coverage for cancer treatment through a state-funded program, which Cooper called “much needed.” North Carolina’s firefighters have long pushed for more comprehensive cancer coverage, because they often contract the disease as a result of their work and exposure to smoke and toxins.

“This new law provides much-needed cancer coverage benefits to North Carolina’s firefighters, both paid and volunteer, who work around the clock to protect our communities. It also strengthens criminal penalties and gives prosecutors more tools against theft. I am signing this bill because of the important changes for firefighters but I strongly disagree with the unconstitutional legislative intrusion into the executive authority of state officials by directing employment of individual state employees.”

SB 409 into law will now allow cancer coverage benefits to firefighters, both paid and volunteer, as long as their diagnosis came after January 1st, 2022.

Seeking changes to other unrelated causes in the state, Senate Bill 409 also included a handful of unrelated legislation. The other provisions would:

-Add tougher criminal penalties for financial crimes and for stealing cargo from trains, trucks, planes, or boats

-Create a pilot program allowing law-enforcement agencies to put license plate readers along state-maintained roads

-Tweak the criminal laws dealing with people who provide “obscene literature” to young people

The Pilot Program to Authorize Automatic License Plate Readers in State Rights-of-Way,” authorizes the North Carolina Department of Transportation to enter into agreements with the State Bureau of Investigation to install automatic license plate readers within land or right-of-ways owned by the NCDOT.

The pilot program is set to become effective on Jan. 1, and it, along with any agreements entered into under it, will expire on July 1 of 2025. According to the law, data obtained by the readers “shall be obtained, accessed, preserved, or disclosed only for law enforcement purposes,” however data “shall not be used for the enforcement of traffic violations.”

“Captured plate data obtained in accordance with this Article is confidential and not a public record as that term is defined in G.S. 132-1,” the law states. “Data shall not be disclosed except to a criminal justice officer at a State or local law enforcement agency or a similar official at a federal law enforcement agency for a legitimate law enforcement purpose pursuant to a written request from the requesting agency.

Gov. Cooper also signed Senate Bill 274: Senior Care Options into law last week which directs the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a pilot program to deliver home care services. SB274 also creates new regulations for home assistance services for seniors and people with disabilities. The services will now need to go through a licensure process.

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