UPDATE: Bill to abolish office of Brunswick County coroner clears first hurdle

UPDATE: Bill to abolish office of Brunswick County coroner clears first hurdle

RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - A bill to eliminate the office of Coroner in Brunswick County received a favorable recommendation Tuesday in the Senate Committee on Health Care. Senate Bill 215, filed by Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick), was sent to the Senate's Judiciary I Committee, which meets Tuesday and Thursday at 10:00 am in the Legislative Building in Raleigh. No specific date is set for when lawmakers in the committee will discuss the bill.

Sen. Rabon filed the bill on March 11. It calls for abolishing the office of coroner in Brunswick County when the current term ends in 2016.   According to the State Board of Elections, Brunswick is one of just nine counties in North Carolina where coroners are elected. The others are Bladen, Caswell, Cleveland, Columbus, Graham, Hoke, Wilkes and Yadkin counties. Among the duties of the office, county Coroners are used to investigate any sudden or unattended death, and deaths where the victim dies by “a criminal act or default by some person”.

Nearly all other counties use medical examiners. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner “investigates all deaths in North Carolina due to injury or violence, as well as natural deaths that are suspicious, unusual or unattended by a medical professional”, according to its website.

“I think uniformity in the state is what we need,” Sen. Rabon said when asked about why he filed the bill. “These nine counties need to conform, and we need one policy in place with regards to using medical examiners.

Greg White has served as Coroner of Brunswick County since being appointed to the position in December 1985. Rabon said filing the bill had nothing to do with White's service as coroner. White and several other county leaders said they had no knowledge Sen. Rabon planned to file the bill. At least two county commissioners wrote to the senator asking that he consider pulling the legislation. Sen. Rabon said Monday nearly everyone he spoke to about the bill supported it.

“Most folks I have talked to, except two, agree that (the office) is archaic and something that should have been done away with years ago,” Sen. Rabon said. “We need to get into the 21st Century.”

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