Sep 29, 2017
NCGA Week in Review
As legislators prepare to return to Raleigh next week, three House select
committees met this week to discuss issues that may come up when the
General Assembly returns to Raleigh next Wednesday, October 4 for another
Administrative Procedure Oversight Discusses Vetoed Bill
On Thursday, the House Select Committee on Administrative Procedure Laws
met to discuss a conference report to
HB 162: Amend Administrative Procedure Laws, which was introduced when legislators met
in August. The conference report was adopted by the Senate, but has not been adopted
by the House. If passed, HB 162 would disallow any new regulations that
would cost at least $100 million over five years, and would require any
rules with a projected $10 million aggregate financial impact during any
five-year period to be reviewed by the General Assembly.
During yesterday’s committee meeting, members heard an overview of the
legislation, and received a presentation on agency implementation of HB
162, should it become law, from the Office of State Budget and Management
(OSBM). Assistant State Budget Director Anca Grozav
OSBM’s concerns with the legislation, which includes health and safety
risks if agencies lose certain rules and conflicting directives between HB
162, statutory mandates and federal requirements.
HB 162 was referred to the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of
the House on August 3. The committee did not indicate whether or not HB 162
will be taken up during next week’s special session.
Judicial Redistricting Moves Forward
The House Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting met on Wednesday to
consider a proposed committee substitute to
HB 717: Revise Judicial Districts, to consider amendments, and to hear public comment.
Twelve amendments were considered by the committee, four were adopted and
eight failed. The adopted changes modify judicial district lines and
reelection schedules. Several of the failed amendments proposed alternate
methods of reforming the state’s court system, while others would have made
changes in districts that favor Democratic candidates.
Organizations such as the League of Women Voters of NC and Together We Will
NC, as well several individuals spoke
the legislation. Their remarks included opposition to partisan
redistricting, concerns that changes to districts and an increase in
rotational divisions will cut resources to the courts, and urged the
committee to take their time with the legislation. Chairman Justin Burr
(R-Stanly) and other members of the committee argue that revisions to the
maps are necessary to give
to rural voters and to reform the state’s judicial branch, which has not
seen major revisions since the 1960s.
The bill passed along party lines and is expected to be taken up by the
House during next week’s session. The NC Courts Commission, which is
composed of judges and members of the legislature, is discussing the
legislation today, and hearing from parties such as the Administrative
Office of the Courts, Rep. Burr, and judges from across the state.
River Quality Committee Discusses GenX
Yesterday, the House Select Committee on NC River Quality held their
inaugural meeting to discuss the discharge of GenX, an unregulated chemical
compound, into the Cape Fear River. GenX is a byproduct of the chemicals
manufactured at the Chemours Fayetteville Works site, which is about 100
miles upstream from Wilmington. During the all-day meeting, legislators
heard informational presentations on the compound and other issues
pertaining to water contamination.
Representatives from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), two state agencies that
have been involved in understanding the chemical compound’s presence in the
river, groundwater and drinking water provided informational presentations
to the committee. Sheila Holman, DEQ Assistant Secretary for Environment
an overview of state and federal water regulations, data from recent tests
of the river, and an update on testing of 14 wells on Chemours’ property.
In lab tests, GenX was found in levels exceeding health guidelines recently
adopted by the state. Because of these results, the state has begun testing
private wells and examining how variations, such as well depth, may impact
GenX levels. DEQ and DHHS have adopted a health guideline of 140 parts per
trillion (ppt), an unofficial and unenforceable standard, however, a
reported a Derived No Effect Level equivalent to 70,909,000 ppt,
differences in these standards raised
from some committee members.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore followed with a
about the known health impacts of GenX and related compounds,
Per-Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS). Some studies have demonstrated
that there is a
that PFAS may have negative health impacts to humans, including effect on
growth, learning, behavior, interference with the body’s natural hormones,
and increased risk of cancer. Lab studies have been conducted on the health
effects on animals, resulting in possible cancers and other effects to the
liver and blood, however, there are no known human health impacts.
The committee also heard action plans on the implementation of
HB 56: Amend Environmental Laws, should Gov. Cooper’s
be overridden, from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and
UNC-Wilmington; both entities were appropriated funds in HB 56 to respond
to the discharge. The Authority expects more than $1 million in short term
costs, including for ongoing GenX monitoring and water treatment
evaluations, according to a
from Chief Operation Officer Frank Styers. Assistant to the Chancellor of
UNC-Wilmington Mark Lanier presented the school’s
research plans, which include conducting studies on bioaccumulation and biodegradation of
GenX. Legislators are likely to take up HB 56 next week.
All committee documents considered at Thursday’s meeting can be found by
link. The committee plans to hold their next meeting on October 6.
What to Expect Next Week
Legislators return to Raleigh next Wednesday, the third time they have
reconvened since adjourning in June. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland)
and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) sent emails to
their respective chambers outlining what to expect during next week’s
session, which they expect to last three days. Speaker Moore noted possible
topics on the House’s agenda: