RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - A bill to abolish the coroner's office in Columbus County has cleared its first legislative hurdle by unanimous vote.
Rep. Brenden Jones (R-Columbus) filed House Bill 290 on March 8, and members of the House Committee on State and Local Government approved it Wednesday morning. It now must be discussed in the House Committee on Elections and Ethics Law. If the bill receives a favorable vote in that committee, it would then be sent to the floor of the House for a vote. Rep. Jones had no timetable on when the bill would be placed on the committee's agenda when contacted Wednesday afternoon.
Rep. Jones said Columbus County Manager William Clark asked him to file the bill after county commissioners approved sending a letter to the delegation requesting the change to the medical examiner system.
Medical examiners investigate 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 the Office of Chief Medical Examiner.
Linwood Cartrette resigned at the end of 2016 after serving as Columbus County coroner for 33 years. The county currently uses assistant coroner William Hannah to perform the duties of the office.
Lawmakers passed a bill in July 2016 to abolish the Brunswick County Coroner's Office. According to the State Board of Elections, that decision left only seven counties in the state with elected coroners at the time: Avery, Bladen, Caswell, Cleveland, Columbus, Hoke and Yadkin.
The remaining counties use medical examiners to perform the duties.