Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper signed the North Carolina Farm Act of 2024 into law Wednesday, along with three other bills. He also vetoed two others.

SB 355 passed unanimously 104-0 in the House and 40-0 in the Senate last Thursday before the General Assembly adjourned the short session.

“The conservation tax credit I proposed in my budget and passed into law with this bill will help us reach the goal I set of permanently conserving one million new acres of natural lands by 2040,” Cooper said in a press release. “Protecting forests, wetlands, and farmlands makes us more resilient to climate hazards, reduces carbon in our atmosphere, promotes military readiness, and supports local economies.”

The Farm Act includes provisions to reduce regulations that burden shellfish farmers and increase penalties for those who transport live, feral swine. It also includes provisions to extend general animal waste management system permits and to improve the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). 

One noteworthy addition to the bill is that horses are now included in Section 1, covered under both (a) “Agriculture defined” and (b) “right to farm defense; nuisance actions.” These sections of the bill now include the raising, management care, boarding and training of horses. 

Also, a digital driver’s license is possibly one step closer to reality in North Carolina as Cooper signed HB 199, DMV Proposed Legislative Changes-AB, into law.

The bill introduces the concept of a supplemental digital driver’s license in North Carolina and authorizes digital versions starting in 2025. It was approved by the House on second reading on June 26 in a 111-3 vote after approval from the Senate earlier in the week.

A mobile ID issued by the Commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) would contain the same data as a traditional driver’s license and be displayed on a device owned by the holder. 

Legally, the mobile driver’s license will be equivalent to a physical driver’s license, but before then, the DMV must conduct a comprehensive study and develop a plan addressing several critical areas.

He also signed SB 319, Insurance Rev/Online Auctions/Firefighters, and HB 900, Certain CIHS Partners/Regulate Tobacco Prod. A portion of the bill will create a directory of legal vaping products.

Cooper vetoed HB 556, Tenancy in Com./E-Notary/Small Claims Changes and HB 155,Titles for Off-Road Veh./Low Speed Veh. Insp.

On his veto of HB 556, Cooper said, “This bill would make it harder for low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities to find affordable rental housing by preventing local governments from protecting against rent discrimination based on lawful income. It also creates legal ambiguity regarding when eviction orders become effective and the potential for increased legal expenses for renters in disputes with landlords.”

“This new law would allow certain off-road vehicles to operate on four-lane highways at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour,” Cooper said of his veto of HB 155. “These vehicles lack many of the safety features found in traditional vehicles, which creates an increased risk of serious injury or death for people on our highways.”

Katie Zehnder and Brianna Kraemer contributed to this article.