GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – We are a month into a new fiscal year, but because the General Assembly remained in session beyond its beginning on July 1, some laws or changes in laws in North Carolina took effect at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 1.

If you think they deal with Medicaid expansion or medical marijuana or sports gambling, well think again. Weighty matters don’t get to start in August, even if they are enacted — which none of those have been.

None of these have a huge impact – in fact, almost none of them are to all of us – and many may not affect you individually, but they are on the books for all of us to obey. Our goal is public service so that you can digest information if it does pertain to you.

North Carolina lawmakers in session. (WGHP FILE)

We will highlight one key change: This has to do with the law enacted last year that states that those who are charged with crimes and found to be “not guilty” by a jury or judge or who see their cases dismissed were, as of December, to see such charges automatically expunged – or removed – from our court files. Previously that step required a petition of the court and a judge’s approval, which can be time- and dollar-consuming.

But House Bill 607 grants a 1-year delay – from today until Aug. 1, 2023 – basically to allow various parties time to review its stipulations in view of post-expungement notifications and potential access to records, which in North Carolina are to be deleted forever, court officials told The News & Observer in Raleigh. We aren’t sure why it would be OK for an expunged record to be retrievable – that feels contradictory – but now we have a year to figure that out.

Of bars and feral hogs

Other bills that took effect this morning might be even more fun. You can read them and weep:

  • HOUSE BILL 768: If you consume alcohol or sell it, there are a lot of sips from the jug to be had in this bill. But there are two big keys: Community colleges now can sell alcohol at professional sports events being staged on their campuses. Such events don’t happen too often, but this levels the playing field with other institutions, if you will. The other development is to make clear whether the joint you wandered into actually is a bar, in case you needed to know. A bar is defined a place “primarily engaged in the business of selling alcoholic beverages.” But you will have to look inside the door to see if that facility is licensed under the definitions in Section 6.
  • SENATE BILL 201: OK, don’t get caught with a catalytic converter that has been removed from another vehicle, unless you have a business permit to have it, and more importantly, don’t forget to move over and slow down if you see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road flashing lights. This bill also approves a variety of license-plate issues for vehicles, including some new specialty plates.
  • SENATE BILL 339: If you sell furs or have pet waterfowl, this bill tells you what to do within the law and even if the birds you have are covered (your pet quail is, but your pet hawk isn’t). Feral swine are noted, we guess because they consume water and are foul.
  • SENATE BILL 496: If you buy and sell insurance – any kind of insurance – the nuances in this bill will confuse you or enlighten you. But you will have to read it carefully to find out. We couldn’t figure out what was important.
  • HOUSE BILL 560: And if you haven’t died of boredom, we will end with this one, because its most immediate effect is to double to $10,000 the amount of money crime victims can get toward having a funeral, burial or cremation. There also are changes in reimbursement for medical care and counseling for surviving victims. That’s in Section 7, but the bill includes a lot of other technicalities that go into effect at various dates other than today.