RALEIGH — Legislation designed to give North Carolina prosecutors a tool to convict drug dealers and to require public schools to teach more finance education is now law. The bills are among a dozen that Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law Monday.

One bill makes it a felony to illegally sell drugs that result in an overdose death, punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Supporters say the “death by distribution” law will help fight the opioid epidemic, but critics say it will deter people from calling 911 during an overdose.

Previously, drug dealers who contributed to an overdose death could face second-degree murder charges, but prosecutors had to prove malice — a high standard that makes conviction difficult.

Another new law requires high school students to pass a personal finance and economics class to graduate. Some teachers worry this will detract from other instruction, but supporters believe financial literacy is critical to real-world success.

Lt. Gov Dan Forest has been a driving force for the bill. The Republican said finance education can be used to address the high rates of student loan debt.

“We have some basic challenges with people coming out of school and understanding how to handle their finances,” he said.

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