Jun 28, 2013
NCGA Week in Review - June 24 - June 28
Tax and Budget Negotiations Get Testy
The House and Senate continue to negotiate on the budget and tax reform behind closed doors, but the two chambers have begun to leverage their positions through action on the chamber floors. The Senate pulled all House bills off of its calendar after filling it with mostly non-controversial legislation that began in that chamber. Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca claimed that the move was made to push House negotiators in the right direction. Meanwhile, the House decided to send the majority of their members home for the July 4 week and will only hold skeleton sessions with no votes or official business. The move should allow House negotiators to focus solely on tax and budget negotiations. The Senate plans to meet Monday through Wednesday of next week before adjourning until the next Monday. The new fiscal year begins on Monday, but Governor McCrory signed a continuing resolution on Thursday that allows the state government to continue operating through July 31.
Commerce Overhaul Passes House
The House approved a measure to put much of the state’s economic development recruitment and marketing efforts in the hands of a private nonprofit corporation and create special zones across the state to get state agencies working together on serving the public and promoting economic development locally. The bill represents a major shift in the way North Carolina promotes economic development. Supporters of the new plan claim that the new framework would help deliver economic development services in both rural and urban areas and allow the state to react more quickly to new business opportunities. Many of the bill’s detractors stated that they voted against because it continues the state’s practice of providing economic incentives to private companies at the expense of other taxpayers.
Environmental Rules Bill Passes Senate Committee
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources gave approval to House Bill 94 on Tuesday. The legislation began as a four-page, technical clean up, but turned into a 43-page bill with several new environmental rules. The sweeping environmental rules bill includes the establishment of rules for the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. The rules would allow companies to withhold information considered to be “trade secrets,” with the secretary of Environment and Natural Resources only allowed to compel disclosure when some event is shown to endanger public health or the environment. The bill also includes provisions on other controversial issues from the legislative session including the fight over the Asheville water system. The bill was on the calendar for Thursday before being removed.
Speed Limit Bill Pulled Over
The House voted down a bill that would have allowed the Department of Transportation to raise the speed limit to 75 miles per hour in some areas on Thursday. The bill was turned down even after the House amended the bill to turn it into a study and pilot program. Many of the bill’s opponents cited safety concerns while others thought that the Department of Transportation’s funding could be better spent in other areas. Meanwhile, supporters of the legislation claim that the increased speed limit would help commerce. The bill, which had already passed the Senate, is dead for this legislative session.
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John Merritt, Senior Vice-President
Johnny Tillett, Senior Vice-President
Rita Harris, Vice-President
Bo Heath, Vice-President
Kerri Burke, Assistant Vice-President
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