Oct 27, 2017
NCGA Week in Review
This week, a House committee continued to examine the presence of GenX, and
other contaminants, in the Cape Fear River. Meanwhile, Representative
William Brisson announced that he would be switching party affiliation, a
three-judge federal panel appointed a Special Master to examine the General
Assembly’s legislative redistricting plan, and the Senate appointed a
committee that will examine judicial redistricting.
River Quality Committee Discusses GenX
On Thursday, the House Select Committee on NC River Quality met for a
second time to hear informative presentations on the presence of GenX, an
unregulated chemical compound that is a byproduct of chemicals manufactured
at the Chemours Fayetteville Works site, in the Cape Fear River. The House
and Senate have both appointed select committees to review and respond to
GenX; the Senate committee met earlier this month.
First, the committee heard from Dr. Detlef Knappe, an engineering professor
at NC State University, who
to the committee on his study of contaminants in the Cape Fear River basin.
The River is the largest watershed in NC and supplies approximately 1.5
million people with drinking water. Dr. Knappe focused on Bromide,
1,4-Dioxane, and Per-Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS), which he
identified as “contaminants of concern.” According to his presentation,
these chemicals are the “tip of the iceberg” of the universe of chemicals:
roughly 200 chemicals have been tested for health effects while another
approximately 80,000 chemical substances are registered for use in the US
and roughly 700 new chemicals are added each year.
The committee then heard updates from the Department of Environmental
Quality (DEQ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), both
Departments addressed the committee
last month. Sheila Holman, DEQ Assistant Secretary for Environment,
the committee on efforts by the Divisions of Water Resources, Waste
Management and Air Quality, includes ongoing sampling of groundwater,
private wells, surface water and the river. DHHS State Health Director Dr.
the committee on DHHS’ efforts, which includes continued work to examine
the human health risks of exposure to GenX, which currently remain unknown.
Next, State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore reviewed a
to the committee that examined the rates of five types of cancers in
Bladen, Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender Counties over a twenty-year
timeline. Dr. Moore stated that there are no substantial differences
between the four counties and the rest of the state in that time period.
Additionally, the committee received an update from the Cape Fear Public
Utility Authority (CFPUA), which was appropriated funds to respond to GenX
after the legislature overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of
HB 56: Amend Environmental Laws
earlier this month. CFPUA Executive Director Jim Fletchner
the committee on the response measures underway, which includes water
supply monitoring and evaluating water treatment alternatives for removing
PFAS, GenX and other emerging compounds from the water supply.
Finally, Cape Fear River Keeper Kemp Burdette spoke to the committee,
expressing his connection to the river and his fear of the unknown
regarding the health effects of exposure to emerging contaminants.
Party Affiliation Change Increases GOP Advantage in House
On Wednesday Rep. William Brisson, who represents parts of Bladen, Sampson
and Johnston counties, announced that he will be changing his party
affiliation and will run as a Republican for his seventh term in 2018.
with WECT-TV, Rep. Brisson said that he has always been a conservative
Democrat and hopes to better serve his rural constituents as a Republican.
House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland)
Rep. Brisson to the House GOP Caucus, saying he is “a steadfast voice for
the priorities of his people.” In a
statement, NC Democratic Party Chair Wayne Goodwin called Rep. Brisson an “honest
public servant, but one who rarely caucuses with Democrats and votes more
than nine time out of ten with the Republican majority.”
Senate to Take On Judicial Reform
Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) appointed members
to a new Senate Select Committee on Judicial Reform and Redistricting on
Tuesday. In a
statement, Sen. Berger said that the committee “will carefully consider all options
on how we select judges including the House’s judicial redistricting bill,
merit selection models, retention election, and, if we maintain a system of
elections, their frequency and partisan structure.” The
will be chaired by Sens. Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Warren Daniel
(R-Burke) and Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick).
Special Master Appointed in Legislative Redistricting Case
Since the legislature
new legislative maps in August, the three-judge federal panel that
initially ordered redistricting has been weighing the constitutionality of
the House and Senate plans.
was filed by the panel to appoint a Special Master to look at nine
legislative districts that the judges are concerned “either fail to remedy
the identified constitutional violation or are otherwise legally
unacceptable.” Nathaniel Persily, a law professor at Stanford University
who has worked as a Special Master or court-appointed redistricting expert
in five states and Puerto Rico, will work with the panel to remedy any
problems with the current plans, which may include redrawing NC’s
legislative maps. An official ruling on the case is expected soon.
The districts in question are House Districts 21, which includes portions
of Duplin, Sampson and Wayne Counties, 36, 37,40 and 41 In Wake County, 57
in Guilford County and 105 in Mecklenburg, as well as Senate Districts 21,
which includes portions of Cumberland County as well as Hoke County and 28
in Guilford County.
In a joint
statement, House and Senate elections committee chairs Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett)
and Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) said that they believe the order will be
reversed and that “the order provides absolutely no legal or factual basis
for objecting to the new maps, while also potentially delegating the
legislature’s constitutional authority to draw districts to a lone
professor in California.”
A Look Ahead to Next Week
Next week, the following legislative and executive branch meetings will be
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
11:30 AM Bi-Annual Planning and Work Session of the NC State Board of
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
9:00 AM Bi-Annual Planning and Work Session of the NC State Board of
10:00 AM Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform
11:30 AM Monthly Meeting of the NC Board of Transportation
1:00 PM Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance
Thursday, November 2, 2017
9:00 AM Monthly Meeting of the NC State Board of Education
1:00 PM Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement