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N.C. bill would legalize and add tax on sweepstakes

By Elisabeth Arriero
earriero@charlotteobserver.com

State legislators introduced a bill Wednesday that would legalize electronic sweepstakes, just months after the N.C. Supreme Court upheld a ban on the machines.

Rep. Michael Wray and Rep. Jeff Collins, both Republicans, were the primary sponsors for the bill, which provides an outline for regulating and taxing electronic sweepstakes parlors.

“We have crafted a bill that contains strict rules for the operation of electronic sweepstakes,” Wray said in a statement. “House Bill 547 will also generate millions in new revenue for North Carolina.”

The bill specifies such regulations as criminal background checks, licensing procedures and guidelines for sweepstakes businesses. It also provided details on how the state can levy an excise tax on such establishments.

Proponents commended the lawmakers for the bill, which they say will preserve jobs and maintain tax revenue for local government.

But opponents such as the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association dismissed the bill as unlikely to pass. Eddie Caldwell, executive vice president for the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, said the parlors posed public safety concerns because of the large amounts of cash on the premises.

Charter revisions bill

A bill changing the way North Carolina charter schools are governed and operated, including dropping the requirement that those schools have licensed teachers, moved a step closer toward adoption Wednesday.

The state Senate Education Committee approved S337, a bill creating a new governing board filled with charter school supporters who would be in charge of approving charters and monitoring existing schools. It would limit the power of the state Board of Education, which now approves and monitors charter schools, to only being able to reject new charters with a three-fourths vote. T. Keung Hui, (Raleigh) News & Observer

Background checks for aid

A county social services office would need to conduct a criminal background check on all applicants and recipients of federal food and cash assistance under legislation Republican lawmakers say is necessary to protect the integrity of the programs.

State Rep. Dean Arp, the bill’s sponsor, said any applicant or current recipient with a pending warrant for a felony charge or probation or parole violation is not eligible for the program and the county offices need to do more to keep them from receiving aid.

“This would save the state money by making sure that the aid goes to those law-abiding citizens first, those who most need it,” the Monroe Republican told a House committee Tuesday.

Lawmakers approved the measure and sent it to the full House. John Frank, (Raleigh) News & Observer

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