* NC Legislative Update – June 25
June 25, 2012 by Bill Gupton, Group Chair
We’re one week closer to the end of session! With the legislature likely to head home next week, there is a big rush to get legislation through both chambers as quickly as possible. Here’s a rundown of what happened on our top priority bills last week.
Fracking Bill Gets Final Approval, Now on Governor Perdue’s Desk
Last Thursday, one week after the fracking bill (S820)
passed the House, the Senate voted to concur with the House changes. That was the final vote on the bill, which was then sent to the Governor Perdue. She has 10 days to decide whether she will veto the bill, sign it, or let it become law without her signature. For this bill, her deadline to decide is July 1 at 11:59 PM. The Senate didn’t make any additional changes to the bill before sending it to the governor, but changes made in two other bills will impact the bill. First, in the final version of the budget approved by both chambers, the legislature appropriated $250,000 to DENR to assist them in the implementation of S820. Many of you may remember that lack of resources is one of DENR’s primary criticisms of S820. Second, an amendment offered by Rep. Mitch Gillespie (R-McDowell) to the Regulatory Reform bill (S810)
modified the language about who will appoint certain members of the new Energy and Mining Commission, but did not change the overall composition of the board. You can view that amendment here
A broad coalition of groups is calling on Governor Perdue to veto the bill, and according to recent reports her inbox and phone lines have been flooded with messages from citizens asking her to veto the bill. According to this story
, the governor has already received over 8,000 emails and over 2,800 phone calls, and it’s not too late to add your voice to the chorus! You can contact the Governor through this link
, or call her office at (800)662-7952
A Step in the Right Direction
Last week in the House Environment Committee meeting, we were pleasantly surprised when Rep. Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg) introduced a bill that would rectify some of the worst provisions of last year’s billboard legislation. Namely, the bill would restore the ability of local governments to regulate tree cutting within their jurisdiction. In the committee meeting the bill received support from Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) and Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenburg). There were a number of committee members opposed to the bill, the most vocal of which was Rep. Bill Brawley (R-Mecklenburg). The committee ultimately voted to approve the bill, and it will now go to the House floor. You can read more about the new bill and last week’s committee meeting here
House Votes Not to Concur on Controversial Sea Level Rise Bill
The Sea Level Rise bill
that has received international ridicule was on the House floor for a concurrence vote last week. The bill originated in the House, but because the Senate made substantial changes, the House had to vote to concur with those changes. When the bill came to the floor, Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) urged members to not vote to concur, so that bill could be sent to a special conference committee so that the two chambers can negotiate compromise language. We anticipate that the compromise will mandate a 3-4 year study of the issue, but prevent anyone from using the current CRC sea level rise projections until the new study is complete. You can read more about the new compromise language here
. As the legislature continues to debate this issue, just yesterday the USGS released a new report finding that certain parts of the East Coast could see faster rates of accelerated sea level rise than previously anticipated. You can read more about that report here
Air Toxics Reform Bill Passes the Senate
The Senate gave final approval to the Air Toxics Program Reform bill
on Thursday. The bill received very little debate on the Senate floor and passed by a vote of 38-1, with Senator Thom Goolsby (R-New Hanover) as the lone dissenting vote. The bill was sent to the governor on Thursday.
Adjournment Right Around the Corner?
Last Thursday on the same day that the legislature gave their final approval to the fracking bill, they also gave their final approval to the state budget. Those are two of the three bills most likely to get a veto, and Governor Perdue has until midnight Sunday night to decide on both of them. It is widely expected that the legislature will stay in town long enough to attempt to override any vetoes, before adjourning on July 2nd or 3rd. We’ll be sad to see them go!
Director of Government Relations
North Carolina Sierra Club
112 South Blount Street
Raleigh, NC 27601