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Jun 14, 2019

NCGA Week in Review

North Carolina lawmakers met this week to discuss a wide range of bills, taking on some of the more controversial issues of the session, and to compete in their annual milk-chugging competition. Meanwhile, other members and the public await a joint state budget proposal currently being discussed in conference committee. Both the House and the Senate will reconvene next week on Monday, June 17, with the House meeting at 7:30PM and the Senate at 2:00PM


Wind Ban

The three-year moratorium on wind farms will move from the Senate to the House after lawmakers passed SB 377: Military Base Protection Act in a 25-19 vote Wednesday. The bill bans new wind farms throughout much of the eastern part of the state to protect the space used to train military pilots. Supporters of the bill fear that without this measure military bases in the area face the possibility of closure, costing many their jobs. Opponents of the moratorium believe this is a move to prevent an increase in the state’s renewable energy efforts.

Both sides of the issue are not quite satisfied with the bill in its current form. Some hope to remove the moratorium language later in the process, once legislators and stakeholders are able to come together and come up with a better permitting process. Bill sponsors urged their fellow Senate members to support the bill the way it is now, feeling comfortable with how everything will turn out down the line. 


Solar Recycling

The renewable energy industry was offered a deal on a bill from a member of the Senate Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources committee during Thursday's meeting. Sen. Paul Newton (R- Cabarrus) offered up a potential deal with industry stakeholders, saying he was willing to bring forward a PCS to the bill, so long as his conditions were agreed to. In order for a PCS  SB 568: Recycling and Restoration/Renewable Energy to be brought forward, Sen. Newton laid out his conditions, including: an immediate landfill ban aimed at keeping heavy metals and other low-risk toxic materials out of current landfills, an agreement to promote recycling, and a Manufacturers Stewardship Program in partnership with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). While Sen. Newton did not have a physical draft of the PCS language ready to present to the committee, he argued that his statements were enough, that the industry could take that or leave it, but that he wanted to keep the bill alive. 


Healthcare Changes

Several bills were up for discussion this week in the Senate Healthcare committee. HB 656: Medicaid Changes for Transformation continued on through the Senate to ensure that North Carolina is able to move forward with the shift to a managed care system. During committee, bill sponsor Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth) recognized that not everything that was requested by Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen made it into the bill, but noted it does have everything the state needs to move forward and comply with both state and federal requirements.

SB 361: Health Care Expansion Act of 2019 was also discussed and moved through committee this week. The bill would partially repeal North Carolina’s Certificate of Need (CON)regulations, removing the requirement for dialysis centers, surgical facilities, among other care facilities. Supporters argue that the partial repeal brings the potential for huge price reductions, while opponents believe that repealing CON laws will have unintended consequences that end up hurting patients and providers more than it would be helping. The next stop for the bill will be the Senate Appropriations committee.


Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Monday, June 17

2:00PM Senate: Session Convenes

2:30PM House: Rules, Calendar, and Operations

7:30PM House: Session Convenes

Tuesday, June 18

10:00AM Senate: Judiciary

11:00AM House: Education – Universities

1:00PM House: Education – K-12

1:00PM Senate: Finance

2:00PM Senate: State and Local Government

2:00PM House: Wildlife Resources

4:30PM House: Rules, Calendar, and Operations

Wednesday, June 19

10:00AM Senate: Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources

10:00AM House: Judiciary

11:00AM Senate: Education/Higher Education

1:00PM House: Elections and Ethics Law

Thursday, June 20

10:00AM Senate: Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources