McCrory completes actions on bills left on his desk by North Carolina General Assembly

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RALEIGH, North Carolina — Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday wrapped up his actions on legislation left on his desk by the North Carolina General Assembly when it adjourned last month, signing two more measures but allowing a third to become law without his signature.

One of the bills he signed focused on criminal laws and the other was a hodgepodge of dozens of regulatory changes approved annually by Republicans since they took control of the legislature in 2011. McCrory said he wouldn't act on a bill to create a two-state commission to examine freight train service in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina.

The governor had until midnight Thursday to dispense with the pending legislation, either by signing or vetoing them, or letting them become law without using his pen.

The criminal law increases the penalty for someone who gives a prisoner a cellphone from a misdemeanor to a felony and makes it a felony for prisoners who possess a cellphone and for those who assault or threaten government officials related to their duties.

These provisions stemmed from a case where authorities say earlier this year a Wake County prosecutor was targeted by kidnappers, who instead abducted her father. Court documents say he was held captive in an Atlanta apartment before being rescued by federal agents. The prosecutor, Colleen Janssen, attended the bill signing.

The regulatory bill contained changes to protecting small tracts of wetlands and created a new felony if someone steals a Venus fly trap. Another provision would allow colleges to make and sell beer as part of a course.

McCrory said in a statement he had concerns about the rail commission bill because the panel could acquire rail infrastructure for the state but would report to no state agency with experience in that field.

Still, he allowed the bill to become law because he said the commission would still need formal approval from South Carolina lawmakers and possibly Congress, and no funding has yet been set aside to purchase a rail line. Lawmakers have expressed commitments to address McCrory's concerns in the 2015 session, the governor said.

McCrory already announced last week he would let a coal ash bill become law without his signature in part due to his constitutional concerns about the composition of a new commission that would manage the process of cleaning up ash ponds next to Duke Energy coal-fired plants.

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