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The new year means new laws now on the books in the Carolinas. In North Carolina there are a total of 16 new laws that went into effect January 1, and they cover everything from background checks on daycare workers to people stealing grease from local restaurants.
It's not pretty, but has become valuable. Used cooking grease has become a hot commodity in more ways than one.
"If someone were to steal it would be real bad on us," Tina Crowell told WBTV.
Used grease is collected in a special container behind BeBops restaurant in Rowan County. And, as of today, stealing more than $1000 worth of used cooking oil is a felony in North Carolina.
"I was unaware of it, but it's a good idea. They need to because the companies we actually sell ours to a company that comes and picks it up and they charges us a certain amount," Crowell added.
A Gaston County representative sponsored the bill after getting complaints that thieves who stole grease were getting little punishment. It has become more valuable because it's used in recycling and on the road.
"We have one customer who comes and gets some for his vehicle, he's made his vehicle so that it runs on grease," Crowell said
Daycare center owners are the focus of another new law. Background checks will now show more criminal offenses, including burglary, ID theft, and cruelty to animals.
The state can also prevent someone who is a habitual alcohol or illicit drug use from running a daycare.
One big change for employers, now any company with 100 or more workers must go through the Department of Homeland Security database and verify if a new hire is actually legal to work in North Carolina, or any other state.
It can involve construction or any other job in the state and is part of the ongoing illegal immigration debate. The idea is to let employers make a quick and easy check to see if a worker is eligible.
In July that law will also apply companies with at least 25 employees.
To read more about North Carolina's new laws, click here.
South Carolina also has several new laws, including:
All employers must use the "e-verify" system to check the legal status of new hires
All voters must present picture ID in the form of a driver's license, U.S. passport, or a voter registration card with a picture