It was a mad rush in the NC General Assembly this week as representatives hurried to get priority bills through at least one chamber before the self-imposed Thursday crossover deadline. A bill had to be approved by at least one chamber by crossover to have a chance to become law this session. Therefore, bills that did not make crossover are understood to lack wide support and are much less likely to become law (although there are exceptions and procedural moves that can get around this).
Crossover is over – a reason to celebrate!
A measure that would freeze and repeal North Carolina’s renewable energy portfolio standard (REPS) failed to make it through crossover! Both House Bill 298 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 365, stalled this week while other bills took the main stage. We will continue to watch out for attacks on REPS to show up in other bills or the budget – but the outlook looks good that NC utilities will continue to be required to invest in renewable energy sources for the foreseeable future.
But some bad bills made it past crossover and got worse in the process …
S 515, the Jordan Lake Rules bill, sponsored by Senators Gunn (Alamance, Randolph) and Wade (Guilford) was completely revised to be much worse than previously reported. Jordan Lake is a drinking water source for over 300,000 people, but nitrogen and phosphorus pollution tends to collect in the lake and cause water quality problems including algae growth. Runoff is exacerbated by land disturbing development upstream and near the lake. The Jordan Lake rules were a 2009 legislative compromise designed to restore water quality. These rules set up a process for upstream governments, agriculture, and new development to reduce pollution flowing into the lake. S 515 would entirely repeal the Jordan Lake rules and replace them with nothing but a subcommittee of lawmakers who will study the issue. This bill would repeal the Jordan Lake rules on October 1, 2013 but the study subcommittee would not be required to report on its findings until 2014. This bill would end the state requirement for NC localities to make any effort to protect Jordan Lake and leave only federal regulations. S 515 was approved by the Senate on Wednesday and will likely move fast in the House.
S 151, the Coastal Policy Reform Act of 2013, sponsored by Sen. Rabon (Bladen, Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender), morphed into a bill that removes the cap on the number of terminal groins that can be built in NC and drops taxpayer protection provisions designed to ensure that local communities do not incur debt for terminal groins without a vote of the people. Terminal groins can cost as much as $10 million to build, and can cost up to $2 million per year to maintain. Existing taxpayer protection provisions were part of the 2011 compromise legislation that allowed for four pilot project terminal groins to be constructed in NC (none are yet built). S 151 also removes fiscal protections intended to ensure that neighboring properties will be compensated for damage due to groins. We expect that this bill will quickly be assigned to a House committee next week and then move to the House floor for a vote.
How you can take action:
2. And please contact your House representative to ask them to protect taxpayers from costly and unwise investment in terminal groins by opposing S 151 – the Coastal Policy Reform Act of 2013. House committees and perhaps the whole House could vote on these bills next week so it is important to contact your Representative today! Click here to tell your legislators to oppose S 151, the terminal groin bill!
And green building and energy efficiency continued to be targeted.
House Bill 628 “Protect/Promote NC Lumber” sponsored by Rep. Presnell (Haywood, Madison, Yancey) would effectively disallow the state from using the LEED green building certification program. H 628 was approved by the House and will next go to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 201 “Reinstate 2009 Energy Conservation Codes”: In 2012, the Building Code Council adopted a revised Energy Conservation Code requiring 15% more efficiency for new residences and 30% more efficiency for new commercial buildings. This bill was heard in committee this week and the Homebuilders spoke against taking back the residential energy efficiency requirements because they had negotiated a good overall deal for homebuilders when the standard was created. So, the section of the bill that would have affected residential building was removed but H 201 would take commercial energy efficiency building requirements back to 2009 – ⅓ less efficient than is now required. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Torbett (Gaston Co.) and passed the House; it will next be considered by the Senate.
Lastly, North Carolina now has a wind permitting system in place. H 484, Permitting of Wind Energy Facilities, passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor McCrory today. The bill establishes a state program for the siting and operation of wind turbines and requires environmental protections as well as consultation with the military.
Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations
919.833.8467 x 104