Along with a new year are new laws

RALEIGH — There are several new laws and changes to existing laws that took effect on New Year’s Day. These new laws may change how we vote, drive, and treat our pain. Below are the 4 significant laws that will affect you starting January 1st, 2018:

  1. HB 100 will make all of North Carolina’s Superior Court and District Court elections partisan. On the ballot you will see the political party affiliations of the judges running for election.
  2. SB 656 will make it easier for 3rd parties and unaffiliated parties into political races. With the current registration divided by Democrats, Independants and Republicans, this may cause a major shift in election campaigns. Until this year, a third party needed to collect enough signatures to make up at least 2% of the total voters in the last general election. Now that number will drop to 0.25%.
  3. Session Law 2017-74, or the STOP Act,  limits how many prescription painkillers (opioids) doctors can prescribe- usually only a week’s worth. More painkillers would require another doctor’s visit. The law also increases restrictions for Nurse Practitioners giving out opioid prescriptions and creates a statewide database for all opioid prescriptions. A statewide database will help identify those people who “shop doctors” to obtain multiple prescriptions.
  4. House Bill 21 requires that NC drivers to be taught what happens in a police traffic stop and the proper action for them to take when interacting with law enforcement officers. The new law adds comprehensive information in Driver’s Ed handbook.

Other new laws and changes include; requiring licensed pharmacist applicants to have criminal background checks, stricter Medicaid eligibility regulations, and lightened regulations on Bed and Breakfast establishments who may now serve lunch and dinner as well.