The House focused primarily on budget this week, while the Senate debated tax reform and moved along quite a few bills. The House continues to play a somewhat moderating role – receiving extreme bills from the Senate, revising them and then sending them back for concurrence. It remains to be seen what will happen to the bills on which the Senate does not concur, that go to into conference committee. They could emerge with major differences or not emerge at all. The Dorthea Dix lease bill and the fracking bill, for example, are at the conference committee stage.
Updates from this week:
As expected, the Senate did not concur on the more moderate House version of Senate Bill 76 – the new fracking bill. Next the bill will go to conference committee where a small group of designee legislators from the House and the Senate will meet privately to try to negotiate a final bill. We are hopeful that the House will hold the line and demand further legislative approval before issuance of fracking permits, keep the ban on underground wastewater injection and keep landowner protections.
House Bill 628, “Protect/Promote NC Sourced Building Materials”, (formerly “Protect/Promote NC Lumber”)would have originally disallowed the state from using the LEED green building certification program. But, it was revised considerably this week so as to promote all kinds of NC building materials, including, but not limited to, lumber, while still allowing LEED certification. The Senate Committee on Agriculture approved the revised bill Tuesday morning and the bill is scheduled to be voted on by the Senate Monday evening.
House Bill 201 “Reinstate 2009 Energy Conservation Codes” would take commercial energy efficiency building requirements back to 2009 – ⅓ less efficiency than is now required. This bill, sponsored byRepresentative Torbett (Rep – Gaston Co.), was discussed but not voted on by theSenate Commerce Committee this week. The committee is scheduled to take it back up Tuesday despite a letter from the Secretary of Energy to Governor McCrory urging the State to improve and implement commercial building energy codes.
House Bill 817, Strategic Transportation Investments passed the Senate 42-5 Thursday and had previously been approved by the House. This bill sets out a new Governor McCrory-approved allocation of state transportation funding called the Strategic Mobility Formula. The Formula divides funding into 3 pools – Statewide, Regional, and Division. Public transport can compete at Regional and Division level. The bill improved somewhat this week though still presents challenges for green transportation options. Last week’s version of the bill would have made it difficult for state funds to be used for Triangle planned light rail and commuter trains but this week compromise language was added to fix that issue. Also this week, H 817 was amended to protect greenway and bicycle-pedestrian projects already scheduled through 2015; but does not allocate funds for these into the future. The bill directs the Department of Transportation to develop criteria for comparing roads with other modes of transport when evaluating potential projects – how they will do so is yet to be determined.
Issues to watch next week: mega-landfills and terminal groins
The leaky garbage truck bill that became the mega-landfill bill will likely be considered by the Senate Finance Committee next week. Senate Bill 328, the “Solid Waste Management Reform Act of 2013”, takes aim at landmark legislation passed in 2007 to protect parks, wildlife and water quality from efforts by out-of-state trash haulers to create mega-dumps in NC. The bill is sponsored by Senators Wade (Rep. Guilford), Brown (Rep. Jones, Onslow) and Jackson (Rep. Duplin, Johnston, Sampson) and is a sweeping reform of NC solid waste management law. Existing landfill regulations were developed, in part, as a response to interest from out-of-state waste haulers in building regional “mega-landfills” in Eastern NC, potentially making NC a net importer of waste. This interest compelled the state to do a comprehensive review of the state’s solid waste policies, and in 2007, after a year-long moratorium and study, the most comprehensive update of NC solid waste law since 1991 was enacted. S 328 would in large measure repeal these carefully studied landfill regulations.
Senate Bill 151, the “Coastal Policy Reform Act of 2013”, would remove the cap on terminal groins (current law allows 4 pilot projects) and drops provisions designed to ensure that local communities do not incur debt without a vote of the people. The bill would also remove fiscal protections intended to ensure that neighboring properties will be compensated for any ensuing damage. Terminal groins can cost as much as $10 million to build, and can cost up to $2 million per year to maintain. This bill is in the House Environment Committee any may reappear next week.
S 515, the “Jordan Lake Water Quality Act”, would entirely repeal the Jordan Lake rules meant to clean up pollution and replace them with nothing but a subcommittee to study the issue. S 515 was approved by the Senate and is now sitting in theHouse Environment Committee. The bill does not seem to have full support in the House; notably Representative Murry (Rep. Wake) has publicly opposed the bill. But we need to keep the pressure on House members to ensure that this unwise bill does not go forward in any form.
How you can take action:
Sign up here to attend our last lobby day of the session!We’ll be focusing on the Jordan Lake rules repeal. If you have not attended before, Cassie will brief us and we will then split into groups to talk with key legislators. We’ll provide printed fact sheets and talking points. Everyone will walk around with at least one experienced volunteer.
Where: 1000 Court, Legislative Building, 16 W. Jones St. Raleigh
When: Monday, June 17th, 5:45pm
Parking: 109 Jones St. across from State Archives, (Map)
Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations
919.833.8467 x 104