Chapter 150B.

Administrative Procedure Act.

Article 1.

General Provisions.

150B-1. Policy and scope.

(a) Purpose. - This Chapter establishes a uniform system of administrative rule making and adjudicatory procedures for agencies. The procedures ensure that the functions of rule making, investigation, advocacy, and adjudication are not all performed by the same person in the administrative process.

(b) Rights. - This Chapter confers procedural rights.

(c) Full Exemptions. - This Chapter applies to every agency except:

(1) The North Carolina National Guard in exercising its court-martial jurisdiction.

(2) The Department of Health and Human Services in exercising its authority over the Camp Butner reservation granted in Article 6 of Chapter 122C of the General Statutes.

(3) The Utilities Commission.

(4) Repealed by Session Laws 2011-287, s. 21(a), effective June 24, 2011, and applicable to rules adopted on or after that date.

(5) Repealed by Session Laws 2011-401, s. 1.10(a), effective November 1, 2011.

(6) The State Board of Elections in administering the HAVA Administrative Complaint Procedure of Article 8A of Chapter 163 of the General Statutes.

(7) The North Carolina State Lottery.

(8) [Expired June 30, 2012.]

(d) Exemptions from Rule Making. - Article 2A of this Chapter does not apply to the following:

(1) The Commission.

(2) Repealed by Session Laws 2000-189, s. 14, effective July 1, 2000.

(3) Repealed by Session Laws 2001-474, s. 34, effective November 29, 2001.

(4) The Department of Revenue, with respect to the notice and hearing requirements contained in Part 2 of Article 2A. With respect to the Secretary of Revenue's authority to redetermine the State net taxable income of a corporation under G.S. 105-130.5A, the Department is subject to the rule-making requirements of G.S. 105-262.1.

(5) The North Carolina Global TransPark Authority with respect to the acquisition, construction, operation, or use, including fees or charges, of any portion of a cargo airport complex.

(6) The Department of Public Safety, with respect to matters relating to executions under Article 19 of Chapter 15 of the General Statutes and matters relating solely to persons in its custody or under its supervision, including prisoners, probationers, and parolees.

(7) The State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees in administering the provisions of Article 3B of Chapter 135 of the General Statutes.

(8) The North Carolina Federal Tax Reform Allocation Committee, with respect to the adoption of the annual qualified allocation plan required by 26 U.S.C. 42(m), and any agency designated by the Committee to the extent necessary to administer the annual qualified allocation plan.

(9) The Department of Health and Human Services in adopting new or amending existing medical coverage policies for the State Medicaid and NC Health Choice programs pursuant to G.S. 108A-54.2.

(10) The Economic Investment Committee in developing criteria for the Job Development Investment Grant Program under Part 2F of Article 10 of Chapter 143B of the General Statutes.

(11) The North Carolina State Ports Authority with respect to fees established pursuant to G.S. 136-262(a)(11).

(12) The Department of Commerce and the Economic Investment Committee in developing criteria and administering the Site Infrastructure Development Program under G.S. 143B-437.02.

(13) The Department of Commerce and the Governor's Office in developing guidelines for the One North Carolina Fund under Part 2H of Article 10 of Chapter 143B of the General Statutes.

(14) Repealed by Session Laws 2011-145, s. 8.18(a), as amended by Session Laws 2011-391, s. 19, effective June 15, 2011.

(15) Repealed by Session Laws 2009-445, s. 41(b), effective August 7, 2009.

(16) The State Ethics Commission with respect to Chapter 138A and Chapter 120C of the General Statutes.

(17) The Department of Commerce in developing guidelines for the NC Green Business Fund under Part 2B of Article 10 of Chapter 143B of the General Statutes.

(18) The Department of Commerce and the Economic Investment Committee in developing criteria and administering the Job Maintenance and Capital Development Fund under G.S. 143B-437.012.

(18a) The Department of Commerce in developing criteria and administering the Expanded Gas Products Service to Agriculture Fund under G.S. 143B-437.020.

(18b) The Department of Commerce in administering the Film and Entertainment Grant Fund under G.S. 143B-437.02A.

(19) Repealed by Session Laws 2011-145, s. 8.18(a), as amended by Session Laws 2011-391, s. 19, effective June 15, 2011.

(20) The Department of Health and Human Services in implementing, operating, or overseeing new 1915(b)/(c) Medicaid Waiver programs or amendments to existing 1915(b)/(c) Medicaid Waiver programs.

(21) Reserved for future codification purposes.

(22) The Department of Health and Human Services with respect to the content of State Plans, State Plan Amendments, and Waivers approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for the North Carolina Medicaid Program and the NC Health Choice program.

(23) The Department of Natural and Cultural Resources with respect to admission fees or related activity fees at historic sites and museums pursuant to G.S. 121-7.3.

(24) Tryon Palace Commission with respect to admission fees or related activity fees pursuant to G.S. 143B-71.

(25) U.S.S. Battleship Commission with respect to admission fees or related activity fees pursuant to G.S. 143B-73.

(26) The Board of Agriculture in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services with respect to the following:

a. Annual admission fees for the State Fair.

b. Operating hours, admission fees, or related activity fees at State forests.

The Board shall annually post the admission fee and operating hours schedule on its Web site and provide notice of the schedule, along with a citation to this section, to all persons named on the mailing list maintained pursuant to G.S. 150B-21.2(d).

c. Fee schedules for the preparation of forest management plans developed pursuant to G.S. 106-1004.

(27) The Department of Natural and Cultural Resources with respect to operating hours, admission fees, or related activity fees at:

a. The North Carolina Zoological Park pursuant to G.S. 143B-135.205.

b. State parks pursuant to G.S. 143B-135.16.

c. The North Carolina Aquariums pursuant to G.S. 143B-135.188.

d. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

The exclusion from rule making for the setting of operating hours set forth in this subdivision (i) shall not apply to a decision to eliminate all public operating hours for the sites and facilities listed and (ii) does not authorize any of the sites and facilities listed in this subdivision that do not currently charge an admission fee to charge an admission fee until authorized by an act of the General Assembly.

(28) (Effective July 1, 2020) The Division of Motor Vehicles with respect to fee adjustments under G.S. 20-4.02.

(29) The Commission for Public Health with respect to adding to the Newborn Screening Program established under G.S. 130A-125 screening tests for Pompe disease, Mucopolysaccharidosis Type I (MPS I), and X-Linked Adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD).

(e) Exemptions From Contested Case Provisions. - The contested case provisions of this Chapter apply to all agencies and all proceedings not expressly exempted from the Chapter. The contested case provisions of this Chapter do not apply to the following:

(1) The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Environmental Quality in complying with the procedural safeguards mandated by Section 680 of Part H of Public Law 99-457 as amended (Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments of 1986).

(2) Repealed by Session Laws 1993, c. 501, s. 29.

(3), (4) Repealed by Session Laws 2001-474, s. 35, effective November 29, 2001.

(5) Hearings required pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, (Public Law 93-122), as amended and federal regulations promulgated thereunder. G.S. 150B-51(a) is considered a contested case hearing provision that does not apply to these hearings.

(6) Repealed by Session Laws 2007-491, s. 2, effective January 1, 2008.

(7) The Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice of the Department of Public Safety.

(8) The Department of Transportation, except as provided in G.S. 136-29.

(9) The North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

(10) The North Carolina Global TransPark Authority with respect to the acquisition, construction, operation, or use, including fees or charges, of any portion of a cargo airport complex.

(11) Repealed by Session Laws 2019-177, s. 8.2, effective July 26, 2019.

(12) The State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees respect to disputes involving the performance, terms, or conditions of a contract between the Plan and an entity under contract with the Plan.

(13) The State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees with respect to determinations by the Executive Administrator and Board of Trustees, the Plan's designated utilization review organization, or a self-funded health maintenance organization under contract with the Plan that an admission, availability of care, continued stay, or other health care service has been reviewed and, based upon the information provided, does not meet the Plan's requirements for medical necessity, appropriateness, health care setting, or level of care or effectiveness, and the requested service is therefore denied, reduced, or terminated.

(14) The Department of Public Safety for hearings and appeals authorized under Chapter 20 of the General Statutes.

(15) The Wildlife Resources Commission with respect to determinations of whether to authorize or terminate the authority of a person to sell licenses and permits as a license agent of the Wildlife Resources Commission.

(16) Repealed by Session Laws 2011-399, s. 3, effective July 25, 2011.

(17) The Department of Health and Human Services with respect to the review of North Carolina Health Choice Program determinations regarding delay, denial, reduction, suspension, or termination of health services, in whole or in part, including a determination about the type or level of services, commenced under G.S. 108A-70.29(b).

(18) Hearings provided by the Department of Health and Human Services to decide appeals pertaining to adult care home resident discharges initiated by adult care homes under G.S. 131D-4.8.

(19) The Industrial Commission.

(20) The Department of Commerce for hearings and appeals authorized under Chapter 96 of the General Statutes.

(21) The Department of Health and Human Services for actions taken under G.S. 122C-124.2.

(22) The Department of Public Safety, with respect to matters relating to executions under Article 19 of Chapter 15 of the General Statutes.

(23) The Secretary of Environmental Quality for the waiver or modification of non-State cost-share requirements under G.S. 143-215.73G.

(24) The Department of Information Technology in the written decision from a protest petition under G.S. 143B-1373.

(25) The Department of Health and Human Services with respect to disputes involving the performance, terms, or conditions of a contract between the Department and a prepaid health plan, as defined in G.S. 108D-1.

(26) The State Board of Education with respect to the disapproval, termination, renewal, or nonrenewal of charters under Article 14A of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes.

(f) Exemption for the University of North Carolina. - Except as provided in G.S. 143-135.3, no Article in this Chapter except Article 4 applies to The University of North Carolina.

(g) Exemption for the State Board of Community Colleges. - Except as provided in G.S. 143-135.3, no Article in this Chapter except Article 4 applies to the State Board of Community Colleges. (1973, c. 1331, s. 1; 1975, c. 390; c. 716, s. 5; c. 721, s. 1; c. 742, s. 4; 1981, c. 614, s. 22; 1983, c. 147, s. 2; c. 927, s. 13; 1985, c. 746, ss. 1, 19; 1987, c. 112, s. 2; c. 335, s. 2; c. 536, s. 1; c. 847, s. 2; c. 850, s. 20; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1082, s. 14; c. 1111, s. 9; 1989, c. 76, s. 29; c. 168, s. 33; c. 373, s. 2; c. 538, s. 1; c. 751, s. 7(44); 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1004, s. 36; 1991, c. 103, s. 1; c. 418, s. 2; c. 477, s. 1; c. 749, ss. 9, 10; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 1030, s. 46; 1993, c. 501, s. 29; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 777, ss. 4(j), 4(k); 1995, c. 249, s. 4; c. 507, s. 27.8(m); 1997-35, s. 2; 1997-278, s. 1; 1997-412, s. 8; 1997-443, ss. 11A.110, 11A.119(a); 2000-189, s. 14; 2001-192, s. 1; 2001-299, s. 1; 2001-395, s. 6(c); 2001-424, ss. 6.20(b), 21.20(c); 2001-446, s. 5(d); 2001-474, ss. 34, 35; 2001-496, s. 8(c); 2002-99, s. 7(b); 2002-159, ss. 31.5(b), 49; 2002-172, s. 2.6; 2002-190, s. 16; 2003-226, s. 17(b); 2003-416, s. 2; 2003-435, 2nd Ex. Sess., s. 1.3; 2004-88, s. 1(e); 2005-133, s. 10; 2005-276, s. 31.1(ff); 2005-300, s. 1; 2005-344, s. 11.1; 2005-455, s. 3.3; 2006-66, ss. 12.8(c), 8.10(d); 2006-201, s. 2(a); 2007-323, ss. 13.2(c), 28.22A(o); 2007-345, s. 12; 2007-491, s. 2; 2007-552, 1st. Ex. Sess., s. 3; 2008-107, s. 10.15A(f); 2008-168, s. 5(a); 2008-187, s. 26(b); 2009-445, s. 41(b); 2009-475, s. 4; 2009-523, s. 2(a); 2010-70, s. 2; 2011-85, s. 2.11(a); 2011-145, ss. 8.18(a), (b), 14.6(j), 19.1(g), (h); 2011-264, s. 4; 2011-272, s. 5; 2011-287, s. 21(a), (b); 2011-391, s. 19; 2011-399, ss. 2, 3; 2011-401, ss. 1.10(a), (b); 2012-43, s. 3; 2013-85, s. 10; 2013-360, ss. 19.2(d), 12H.6(c), 12H.9(c); 2014-100, ss. 13.2(a), 15.13(b), 15.14B(b); 2014-103, s. 17; 2015-198, ss. 3, 4; 2015-241, ss. 14.6(g), 14.11(a), 14.30(c), (s), (u), (v), (w), 29.30(t); 2016-113, s. 7(a); 2017-6, s. 3; 2017-186, s. 2(ddddddddd); 2017-212, s. 4.3; 2018-5, ss. 11E.1(b), 37.1(h); 2018-142, s. 21; 2018-146, ss. 3.1(a), (b), 6.1; 2019-81, s. 10; 2019-165, s. 7; 2019-177, s. 8.2.)

 

150B-2. Definitions.

As used in this Chapter,

(1) "Administrative law judge" means a person appointed under G.S. 7A-752, 7A-753, or 7A-757.

(1a) "Agency" means an agency or an officer in the executive branch of the government of this State and includes the Council of State, the Governor's Office, a board, a commission, a department, a division, a council, and any other unit of government in the executive branch. A local unit of government is not an agency.

(1b) "Adopt" means to take final action to create, amend, or repeal a rule.

(1c) "Codifier of Rules" means the person appointed by the Chief Administrative Law Judge of the Office of Administrative Hearings pursuant to G.S. 7A-760(b).

(1d) "Commission" means the Rules Review Commission.

(2) "Contested case" means an administrative proceeding pursuant to this Chapter to resolve a dispute between an agency and another person that involves the person's rights, duties, or privileges, including licensing or the levy of a monetary penalty. "Contested case" does not include rulemaking, declaratory rulings, or the award or denial of a scholarship, a grant, or a loan.

(2a) Repealed by Session Laws 1991, c. 418, s. 3.

(2b) "Hearing officer" means a person or group of persons designated by an agency that is subject to Article 3A of this Chapter to preside in a contested case hearing conducted under that Article.

(3) "License" means any certificate, permit or other evidence, by whatever name called, of a right or privilege to engage in any activity, except licenses issued under Chapter 20 and Subchapter I of Chapter 105 of the General Statutes, occupational licenses, and certifications of electronic poll books, ballot duplication systems, or voting systems under G.S. 163-165.7.

(4) "Licensing" means any administrative action issuing, failing to issue, suspending, or revoking a license or occupational license. "Licensing" does not include controversies over whether an examination was fair or whether the applicant passed the examination.

(4a) "Occupational license" means any certificate, permit, or other evidence, by whatever name called, of a right or privilege to engage in a profession, occupation, or field of endeavor that is issued by an occupational licensing agency.

(4b) "Occupational licensing agency" means any board, commission, committee or other agency of the State of North Carolina which is established for the primary purpose of regulating the entry of persons into, and/or the conduct of persons within a particular profession, occupation or field of endeavor, and which is authorized to issue and revoke licenses. "Occupational licensing agency" does not include State agencies or departments which may as only a part of their regular function issue permits or licenses.

(5) "Party" means any person or agency named or admitted as a party or properly seeking as of right to be admitted as a party and includes the agency as appropriate.

(6) "Person aggrieved" means any person or group of persons of common interest directly or indirectly affected substantially in his or its person, property, or employment by an administrative decision.

(7) "Person" means any natural person, partnership, corporation, body politic and any unincorporated association, organization, or society which may sue or be sued under a common name.

(7a) "Policy" means any nonbinding interpretive statement within the delegated authority of an agency that merely defines, interprets, or explains the meaning of a statute or rule. The term includes any document issued by an agency which is intended and used purely to assist a person to comply with the law, such as a guidance document.

(8) "Residence" means domicile or principal place of business.

(8a) "Rule" means any agency regulation, standard, or statement of general applicability that implements or interprets an enactment of the General Assembly or Congress or a regulation adopted by a federal agency or that describes the procedure or practice requirements of an agency. The term includes the establishment of a fee and the amendment or repeal of a prior rule. The term does not include the following:

a. Statements concerning only the internal management of an agency or group of agencies within the same principal office or department enumerated in G.S. 143A-11 or 143B-6, including policies and procedures manuals, if the statement does not directly or substantially affect the procedural or substantive rights or duties of a person not employed by the agency or group of agencies.

b. Budgets and budget policies and procedures issued by the Director of the Budget, by the head of a department, as defined by G.S. 143A-2 or G.S. 143B-3, by an occupational licensing board, as defined by G.S. 93B-1.

c. Nonbinding interpretative statements within the delegated authority of an agency that merely define, interpret, or explain the meaning of a statute or rule.

d. A form, the contents or substantive requirements of which are prescribed by rule or statute.

e. Statements of agency policy made in the context of another proceeding, including:

1. Declaratory rulings under G.S. 150B-4.

2. Orders establishing or fixing rates or tariffs.

f. Requirements, communicated to the public by the use of signs or symbols, concerning the use of public roads, bridges, ferries, buildings, or facilities.

g. Statements that set forth criteria or guidelines to be used by the staff of an agency in performing audits, investigations, or inspections; in settling financial disputes or negotiating financial arrangements; or in the defense, prosecution, or settlement of cases.

h. Scientific, architectural, or engineering standards, forms, or procedures, including design criteria and construction standards used to construct or maintain highways, bridges, or ferries.

i. Job classification standards, job qualifications, and salaries established for positions under the jurisdiction of the State Human Resources Commission.

j. Establishment of the interest rate that applies to tax assessments under G.S. 105-241.21.

k. The State Medical Facilities Plan, if the Plan has been prepared with public notice and hearing as provided in G.S. 131E-176(25), reviewed by the Commission for compliance with G.S. 131E-176(25), and approved by the Governor.

l. Standards adopted by the Department of Information Technology applied to information technology as defined by G.S. 147-33.81.

(8b) Repealed by Session Laws 2011-398, s. 61.2, effective July 25, 2011.

(8c) "Substantial evidence" means relevant evidence a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.

(9) Repealed by Session Laws 1991, c. 418, s. 3. (1973, c. 1331, s. 1; 1975, 2nd Sess., c. 983, ss. 61, 62; 1977, c. 915, s. 5; 1983, c. 641, s. 1; 1985, c. 746, s. 1; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 1022, s. 1(2)-1(5); 1987, c. 878, ss. 1, 2, 21; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1111, s. 17; 1991, c. 418, s. 3; c. 477, ss. 3.1, 3.2, 9; 1995, c. 390, s. 29; 1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 18, s. 7.10(g); 1997-456, s. 27; 2003-229, s. 12; 2007-491, s. 44(1)b; 2011-13, s. 2; 2011-398, ss. 15, 61.2; 2013-188, s. 7; 2013-382, s. 9.1(c); 2013-413, s. 1; 2015-2, s. 2.2(c); 2015-241, ss. 7A.3, 30.16(a); 2017-6, s. 3; 2018-13, s. 3.8(b); 2018-146, s. 4.5(b).)

 

150B-3. Special provisions on licensing.

(a) When an applicant or a licensee makes a timely and sufficient application for issuance or renewal of a license or occupational license, including the payment of any required license fee, the existing license or occupational license does not expire until a decision on the application is finally made by the agency, and if the application is denied or the terms of the new license or occupational license are limited, until the last day for applying for judicial review of the agency order. This subsection does not affect agency action summarily suspending a license or occupational license under subsections (b) and (c) of this section.

(b) Before the commencement of proceedings for the suspension, revocation, annulment, withdrawal, recall, cancellation, or amendment of any license other than an occupational license, the agency shall give notice to the licensee, pursuant to the provisions of G.S. 150B-23. Before the commencement of such proceedings involving an occupational license, the agency shall give notice pursuant to the provisions of G.S. 150B-38. In either case, the licensee shall be given an opportunity to show compliance with all lawful requirements for retention of the license or occupational license.

(c) If the agency finds that the public health, safety, or welfare requires emergency action and incorporates this finding in its order, summary suspension of a license or occupational license may be ordered effective on the date specified in the order or on service of the certified copy of the order at the last known address of the licensee, whichever is later, and effective during the proceedings. The proceedings shall be promptly commenced and determined.

Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as amending or repealing any special statutes, in effect prior to February 1, 1976, which provide for the summary suspension of a license.

(d) This section does not apply to the following:

(1) Revocations of occupational licenses based solely on a court order of child support delinquency or a Department of Health and Human Services determination of child support delinquency issued pursuant to G.S. 110-142, 110-142.1, or 110-142.2.

(2) Refusal to renew an occupational license pursuant to G.S. 87-10.1, 87-22.2, 87-44.2, or 89C-18.1, based solely on a Department of Revenue determination that the licensee owes a delinquent income tax debt. (1973, c. 1331, s. 1; 1985, c. 746, s. 1; 1995, c. 538, s. 2(i); 1997-443, s. 11A.118(a); 1998-162, s. 8.)

 

150B-4. Declaratory rulings.

(a) On request of a person aggrieved, an agency shall issue a declaratory ruling as to the validity of a rule or as to the applicability to a given state of facts of a statute administered by the agency or of a rule or order of the agency. Upon request, an agency shall also issue a declaratory ruling to resolve a conflict or inconsistency within the agency regarding an interpretation of the law or a rule adopted by the agency. The agency shall prescribe in its rules the procedure for requesting a declaratory ruling and the circumstances in which rulings shall or shall not be issued. A declaratory ruling is binding on the agency and the person requesting it unless it is altered or set aside by the court. An agency may not retroactively change a declaratory ruling, but nothing in this section prevents an agency from prospectively changing a declaratory ruling.

(a1) An agency shall respond to a request for a declaratory ruling as follows:

(1) Within 30 days of receipt of the request for a declaratory ruling, the agency shall make a written decision to grant or deny the request. If the agency fails to make a written decision to grant or deny the request within 30 days, the failure shall be deemed a decision to deny the request.

(2) If the agency denies the request, the decision is immediately subject to judicial review in accordance with Article 4 of this Chapter.

(3) If the agency grants the request, the agency shall issue a written ruling on the merits within 45 days of the decision to grant the request. A declaratory ruling is subject to judicial review in accordance with Article 4 of this Chapter.

(4) If the agency fails to issue a declaratory ruling within 45 days, the failure shall be deemed a denial on the merits, and the person aggrieved may seek judicial review pursuant to Article 4 of this Chapter. Upon review of an agency's failure to issue a declaratory ruling, the court shall not consider any basis for the denial that was not presented in writing to the person aggrieved.

(b) Repealed by Session Laws 1997-34, s. 1. (1973, c. 1331, s. 1; 1985, c. 746, s. 1; 1991, c. 418, s. 4; c. 477, s. 2.1; 1997-34, s. 1; 2011-398, s. 56.)

 

150B-5 through 150B-8. Reserved for future codification purposes.