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Lower State Income Taxes, Law Enforcement Reform Among New State Laws

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Lower state income taxes, a focus on recruitment, diversity and mental health for law enforcement, and changes to help ensure children are raised in a safe environment were among new North Carolina laws that took effect Jan. 1.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed the two-year, $53 billion state budget Nov. 17 that was passed by the General Assembly.

The budget bill also allowed distilleries to sell alcoholic beverages directly to people in other states and brought changes to rules and regulations pertaining to the ABC Commission.

State income tax rates will gradually be reduced through 2027 beginning with the 2022 tax year, according to the new law. Filers will pay the current 5.25% individual rate on 2021 returns which are due April 15, 2022. The individual tax rate will drop to 4.99% for 2022 and will be 3.99% in 2027.

The standard deduction and per-child deduction also will increase in 2022. The per-child deduction increases $500 to $3,000 per-child for families making up to $40,000. The amount phases out as income increases. A married couple filing jointly won’t have to pay taxes on the first $25,500 of income in 2022, which is a $4,500 increase from 2021.

Under House Bill 436, it is required to screen law enforcement officers prior to certification or employment, educate them on maintaining good mental health and to provide mental health resources. It also created a physical fitness study.

The Criminal Justice Reform act increases protections, training and oversight for state and local law enforcement officers. It creates a decertification database, and requires use of the FBI’s Next Generation Identification System.

It also made changes to improve policing and criminal justice in the state, as recommended by the Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice (TREC), including:

• Promotes recruitment of officers with diverse backgrounds and experiences and improves training so that officers are better equipped to be successful

• Requires early intervention mechanisms to identify and correct officers who use excessive force or other misconduct

• Furthers independent investigations of police-involved shootings

• Limits local laws that criminalize poverty

• Requires a first appearance in court within 72 hours of a person being arrested.

The Expedite Child Safety and Permanency act amends various abuse, neglect and dependency laws to ensure the safety of children in “out-of-home” placements and to expedite permanency planning hearing for children removed from the home.

Senate Bill 103 provides several new provisions related to the regulation of behavior analysts and assistant behavior analysts. Reduces regulations to help children with autism. It’s officially an act to reduce unnecessary regulatory constraints for applied behavior analysis.

The ABC omnibus legislation changes rules and regulations pertaining to the ABC Commission. For example, it allows online orders at ABC stores. Distilleries were formerly unable to be open during hours when the local ABC stores were not open. Now, distilleries are able to offer tours, tastings, and can sell closed containers of their product to consumers for off-premises consumption seven days a week (9 a.m.- 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon-9 p.m. on Sunday).

Distilleries are no longer required to maintain records related to tours given to individuals who tour the distillery prior to purchasing a bottle of distilled spirits.

House Bill 366 works on regulations for a variety of things such as allowing distilleries to sell alcoholic beverages directly to people in other states.

The Enhance Local Government Transparency act bans public officials from gaining financially from their position. The law also makes it a crime for elected officials to use their position and access to government resources for personal gain. It also would give some independence to local government offices responsible for auditing their government colleagues.