A total of seven laws enacted during the 2023 General Assembly session took effect on July 1st. 

The laws range from S.B. 20, the Care for Women, Children, and Families Act, which, among other policies, limits abortion after the first trimester, to more low-profile bills like S.B. 552, which makes small changes to the previously passed Notary Act. 

S.B. 20 specifically is the law under the most scrutiny due to a lawsuit from both Planned Parenthood and Duke Health’s Dr. Beverly Gray who argues that the law contains several requirements that are “unintelligible, inherently contradictory, irrational, and/or otherwise unconstitutional.”

On Friday, the judge hearing the case, U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles, ruled favorably on the constitutionality of S.B. 20, stating that all but one of the provisions of the legislation would be allowed to proceed, making it the last major piece of legislation ratified to be enacted July 1st. The only provision blocked required doctors using abortion-inducing drugs to document an “intrauterine pregnancy.”

The decision came after Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law H.B. 190, Dept. of Health and Human Services Revisions, which makes revisions to S.B. 20. This law also takes effect July 1st. According to Eagles, many of the points of contention of the bill were clarified by H.B. 190. 

A complete list of the bills taking effect July 1st include: 

S.B. 41 authorizes concealed carry permit holders and certain law enforcement facility employees to carry firearms on private property, in places of worship that have schools on the property during days other than the day of worship services. It also repeals the Jim-Crowe era pistol permit that requires pistol owners to get a separate permit from their local sheriff in addition to federal background checks. In addition, the bill launches a statewide firearm safe storage awareness campaign. 

S.B. 20 would restrict abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for rape, incest, after the diagnosis of a life-limiting fetal anomaly, or whenever there is a medical emergency. Abortion using medication is also banned after 70 days (or 10 weeks) of pregnancy. Additionally, it would also require those seeking abortions to see a provider in-person for pre- and post-abortion appointments.

H.B. 190 makes revisions to S.B. 20 in order to “clarify the rules and provide some certainty” to the regulations, according to Gov. Cooper’s press release on the matter. The law clarified items such as the state’s fetal homicide law, the ability to “advise” pregnant women about abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy, 72-hour waiting periods, mandatory reporting of abortions involving minors, and time limits for medication abortion. Additionally, it also made it so any changes made by S.B. 20 on laws dealing with hospitalization of victims of rape or incest and their ability to receive an abortion after 12 weeks will not take effect until October 1, 2023. 

H.B. 544 would ban on-shore recreational shark fishing tournaments from certain southeastern waters during tourist season.

H.B. 116 adds a host of provisions for district attorney’s offices. For example, this bill makes it so that when district attorneys exclude themselves from an investigation or prosecution due to conflicts of interest, they now have the ability to apply to the Administration Office of the Courts for a qualified attorney to assume responsibility for the investigation. Additionally, it also instructs that there be a dispute resolution fee paid in advance for a mediation referred by the General Court of Justice. This fee shall be sixty dollars per mediation of a criminal case.

H.B. 103 makes technical corrections to general statutes and session laws as recommended by the general statutes commission.  

S.B 729 amends the anti-pension spiking contribution-based benefit cap law for school systems. The 2014 law that it amends enacted a benefit cap in order to control what is known as pension spiking, which is the process by which public sector employees are granted large raises, bonuses, incentives or otherwise artificially inflate their compensation in the time immediately preceding retirement in order to receive larger pensions. 

Specifically, the bill states that public schools are not required to pay additional contributions for retirement if certain provisions are met. For example, if “The greatest local supplement amount paid to the retiree for a school year during the period used to calculate the employee’s average final compensation did not exceed twenty percent (20%) of the salary paid to the retiree from the State funds for the same school year.”

S.B. 552 makes major revisions to the Notary Act. The most timely being the extension of both emergency video notarization and emergency video witnessing until June 30 of the following year.