NC Legislature adjourns September special session without harming legals or carriers

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Far from the sky falling, North Carolina's legal advertising and independent contractor-newspaper carrier climate remains intact. The leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly acted responsibly, with encouragement from the North Carolina Press Association and many SNPA members, to leave N.C. law unchanged.

After passing House Bill 205 in the 2017 regular legislative session – which would have impacted the ways newspapers qualify to take legal ads – North Carolina's governor vetoed the bill. Thanks to newspaper publisher advocacy, the N.C. General Assembly has not attempted to override the veto and put HB 205 into effect. Preserving existing legal advertising law was a collective industry effort, led in the final hours by N.C. Press Association President and Greenville (N.C.) Reflector Publisher Tim Holt.

Another dimension of HB 205 – the nation's only statute that essentially makes newspaper carriers independent contractors for state law purposes – also survived the September 2017 N.C. special legislative session. Again, N.C. newspaper publishers were instrumental in working with the General Assembly to preserve the status quo in the state's newspaper carrier law.

The N.C. General Assembly returns for one more special session on Oct. 4.   And the industry in North Carolina remains vigilant.

John Bussian is legislative and First Amendment counsel for the North Carolina Press Association and chair of SNPA's Government Affairs Committee.

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