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New Laws Taking Effect in North Carolina in 2019

Riddle Brantley LLP   |  January 21, 2019   |  

Every year lawmakers enact new laws that go into effect January 1st.  North Carolina lawmakers enacted 11 new laws for 2019.  These laws will make changes to businesses, the way we vote, state primaries, the transportation industry and more.  It is important for North Carolinians to know the latest laws and how they may be affected by them.

North Carolina Voter ID Law

In December of 2018, North Carolina voted to add to the state constitution a controversial requirement that people must show photo identification before being allowed to vote.  The North Carolina State Legislature was now required to enact legislation requiring the production of a photo ID prior to voting.

This new law requires a voter to show photographic identification to a poll-worker as a precondition to voting in person.  It will not apply to absentee voting.

Tax Laws

The tax overhaul of 2013 reaches its final phase in 2019.  The 2013 overhaul changed the state’s individual income tax rate from three-tiered to single and makes available deductions simpler for taxpayers.  Moreover, it lowered the tax rate for corporations.  The most profound change the overhaul will enact are to personal income tax rates, which will drop from 5.499% to 5.25%.  Corporate taxes will also decline from 3% to 2.5%, making it the lowest corporate income tax rate in the country.

In addition to these tax rate drops for individuals and corporations; the state’s standard deduction will increase in 2019.  The amount of income a person will be taxed on will increase from $8700.00 to $10,000 for an individual, and from $17,500 to $20,000 for a married couple filing jointly.  While the tax law changes help all employees in North Carolina, they are most beneficial to low-income earners.  This means that in 2019 more than 30% of people who file income taxes in North Carolina will be exempt from state taxes.

State Primary Date Laws

The new law with the biggest impact on taxpayers requires that all state primaries held in presidential election years be held Tuesday after the first Monday in March.  Prior to 2016 North Carolina primaries were held in May.  Candidates aiming for party primary nominations must file by the December prior to the election, instead of February.

In addition, the new law moves the date of the presidential preference primary in presidential election years.  Voters can now enjoy a set date each presidential election year instead of the varying dates based on South Carolina’s primaries.  The date will be the Tuesday after the first Monday in March.  This change will begin with the 2020 presidential election.  This new law went into effect January 1, 2019, and only applies to even-year elections held after this date.

Highway Improvement Laws

The Build NC Bond Act Program beginning in 2019, is a financing tool that will ensure the North Carolina Department of Transportation can continue strong delivery of critical road projects at the regional and division levels that do not qualify for similar federal funding.  These projects will benefit residents across North Carolina by providing a stronger transportation system, and therefore access to better jobs, health care facilities, and educational opportunities.

Benefits of Build NC

  1. The North Carolina DOT can maintain strong project delivery. This is essential to a strong transportation system which is the backbone of the state’s economic competitiveness and well-being.
  2. The delivery of the infrastructure that communities across North Carolina have been waiting for will be sooner than it would be if Build NC was not available.
  3. Private sector businesses that build roadways across North Carolina will see a stable industry over the next few years. This will allow them to grow capacity to meet market demand with less risk.

Over the next 10 years, the NCDOT now has the power to borrow up to $3 billion to support high-priority highway construction projects.  These funds may not be used by the NCDOT to pay for non-highway or toll projects.  The NCDOT hopes to start working on the large backlog of state highway projects using available money starting in 2019.

According to the NCDOT, improvements have been made since 2018 to accelerate 350 projects and make room for 144 new projects.  This is due to the State Transportation Improvement Program, which is the department’s plan that identifies the construction funding and schedule for state transportation projects over a 10-year period.  Furthermore, the NCDOT believes this is critical to making sure North Carolina citizens have safe roadways.