Senate passes Iran divestment, Sunday hunting bills

LB from NERALEIGH – The state Senate today wrapped up work on bills dealing with Iran and hunting, and also sped through other bills that were not controversial.

The Iran Divestment Act, Senate Bill 455, passed 48-0. It would prohibit the N.C. Retirement System, state agencies and local governments from investing in funds or contracting with anyone that has investment activities in Iran due to the nation’s nuclear posture, human rights record and the threats to U.S. allies. It requires the treasurer to compile a list of people, businesses, funds or corporations that invest in Iran and publish the list. State agencies would also be prohibited from contracting or subcontracting with anyone on the list.

There are several exceptions in the law to allow the state to continue to do business with companies with interests in Iran. Those entities can either be green-listed on a case-by-case basis by the N.C. Treasurer or can meet a qualification that they are taking “substantial positive action” to divest from Iran. The bill now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory.

House Bill 640, the Outdoor Heritage Act, would allow Sunday hunting on private land in North Carolina, although counties could choose to prohibit hunting within their borders. The bill would also create the Outdoor Heritage Trust Fund to encourage outdoor activities among youth, funded from a “check-off” on hunting and fishing licenses and other fees collected by the Wildlife Resource Commission.

Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Spruce Pine) said that the bill was changed too much from the version that passed the Senate previously. He specifically dislikes the change to prohibit hunting only from 9:30 to 12:30 on Sundays, which he said made no sense to him.

Along with Sunday hunting, the bill establishes a “three strikes” rule for hunting violations, requiring a mandatory two-year suspension of a hunting license after three convictions for hunting on posted property. Smaller provisions in the bill include extending the breeding season for foxes at Bladen Lakes State Forest Game Lands, limiting liability for landowners who allow others to go onto their property to retrieve a lost hunting dog, and defines bear cubs as bears weighing less than 75 pounds.

The bill passed 33-15 with Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the vote.

Several other bills passed the chamber unanimously:

  • House Bill 55 allows N.C. State University to use fireworks without going through the Wake County Commission
  • House Bill 288 makes technical changes to maintain the accreditation of the N.C. Department of Insurance
  • Senate Bill 88 changes the process for resolving utility pole attachment disputes
  • Senate Bill 284 lets counties and cities continue to use special assessments to address critical infrastructure needs

All the bills will be sent to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature except House Bill 288, the insurance bill, which will need to go back to House for concurrence or to a conference committee.

One bill expected to be debated, which deals with allowing epilepsy patients to use cannabis oil to control seizures, was removed from the calendar and shifted to next week.