Legislative Update | November 2018 + Session

PENC

 

Summary // Overview

Three weeks after the NC general election, both chambers of the General Assembly convened to continue the 2018 long session on November 27 as scheduled this summer when lawmakers adjourned from the regular long session. High priority for the special session are the following issues: Hurricanes Florence and Michael relief appropriations, and implementing language for the Voter ID constitutional amendment approved by voters. While other issues popped up naturally, these two issues took up the majority of legislators’ time this week and throughout November. Below you’ll find updates on legislative committees that have met in November of relevance to PENC, bills to watch, legislative committees currently scheduled, and articles of interest.

 

Committee Updates
11/26/18: Joint Select Committee on Storm-Related River Debris/Damage in North Carolina

This committee heard reports on stream and river damages as a consequence of Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Director Sprayberry (NCEM/NCORR) presented on the intervals of rainfall, and the volume of water in rivers/streams. Since Hurricane Fran in 1996, North Carolina has experienced rainfall events equal to or greater than a 100-year frequency interval every five years. Martin Doyle, a professor at Duke University, presented more details on river hydraulics and flooding. Because North Carolina has seen major hurricane-related flood damage on average every six years, Mr. Doyle strongly recommends an approach of mitigation and planning to ensure the state is prepared for the next disaster.

 

What this means: Mr. Doyle’s recommendation to focus on mitigation and planning, if taken under advisement, presents an opportunity for PENC to plug into the transportation planning conversation.

 

11/08/2018 Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee

This committee primarily focused on damage reporting and relief efforts for Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Between the two storms, a total of 2,104 roads were closed; 49 remained closed as of 11/1. Sites damaged during Florence qualify for both FEMA + FHWA reimbursement funding, while damages that occurred as a result of Michael do not fully meet reimbursement requirements. A total of 2,642 routes qualify for FEMA reimbursement, while 853 qualify for FHWA funds. Preliminary cost reports indicate a total of $260M from the storms. The state is expected to recoup $178.1M from both FEMA + FHWA. Costs to the DMV to date sits at $81M, according to reports from Emily McGraw, NCDOT State Maintenance Engineer. Meanwhile, the costs of hurricane relief on Wilmington continue to rise; recovery efforts total $22M.

 

The committee also heard reports from Torre Jessup, NCDMV Commissioner, who focused on the REAL ID process and roadblocks residents face while visiting one of the 113 drivers license offices across the state.

 

Frank Winn, NCDIT Chief Information Officer outlined the State Automated Driver License System (SADLS) and walked the committee through the replacement process.

 

Jason Orthner, P.E., walked the committee through the Carolina Connector (CCX) Intermodal Terminal plans. CCX represents a shift from hub and spoke operations to scheduled railroading, which accomplishes the state’s objectives: serves Eastern NC and the Triangle, provides shipper savings, adds jobs and economic development opportunities. Projected costs for the project include both terminal costs and operational costs: $118.1M to NCDOT for engineering and construction, $40M to CSX for land acquisition and development costs, $54M to CSX paid over the course of nine years for operations.

 

The NCDOT was selected as one of 10 groups for a pilot program testing drone usage for package deliveries. Basil Yap, NCDOT Aviation Division UAS Program Manager co-presented with an industry representative about the pilot program. The state will look at two delivery systems, rural and urban, and will test, monitor and make recommendations about future use cases.

 

What this means: Continued support from PENC is critical to streamlined and fast-tracked hurricane recovery efforts, while ensuring the safety of volunteers, state employees, and citizens.

 

11/8/2018 House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and Long Term Funding Solutions

Meeting on November 8, 2018, this committee focused on three major items: state transportation system comparisons, updates on streamlining environmental regulations process, and autonomous vehicles/platooning.

 

Chris Werner, NCDOT Director of Technical Services, focused his time with the committee on reducing project delivery time.

 

When considering autonomous vehicles, presentations to the committee focused on connected autonomous vehicles to real-world applications. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate and affecting approaches to transportation and infrastructure development. While the Triangle Expressway was one of ten sites chosen for future research, on October 4 the federal government denounced all ten sites, fearing civil lawsuits over the chosen sites. North Carolina extended its continued support of the research. Susan Alt, VP of Public Affairs for Volvo, spoke on the need for governmental support on standards, rules, and regulations. Alt reported on Volvo efforts to expand truck platoon autonomous vehicle testing to I-40 in addition to I-540.

 

Legislation Watch: Committee Chair Rep. John Torbett asked members to suggest draft bills that should receive recommendation in the long session beginning in January. Two legislators came forward with legislative agendas: Rep. McNeill would like legislation addressing drivers who ignore road barricades set up for dangerous conditions; Rep. Torbett would like legislation addressing electric scooter rentals from companies like Bird and Lime.

 

What this means: Regulations and policies on autonomous vehicles are an issue area to watch, as PENC has the expertise needed to guide and affect infrastructure development. Substantial AV legislation was passed in 2017 and at the time Rep. Torbett shared that continual updates and future legislation would likely be needed.

 

Bills to Watch

  •  
  • S821: Sunset Unconstitutional Boards & Commissions (LINK [webservices.ncleg.net]).
  •  This bill would repeal statutes creating: child care commission, clean water management trust fund board of trustees; NC parks and rec authority; private protective services board; rural infrastructure authority; state building commission.
  •  
  •  
  • S823: Hurricane Florence/Supplemental Act (LINK [ncleg.net]).
  •  This bill appropriates approximately $299 million for disaster relief. The primary allocations go toward agricultural needs.
  •  
  •  
  • Interior Design Profession Act. The American Society of Interior Designers has begun stakeholder
  •  discussions in advance of the 2019 long session where they plan to pursue passage of this bill. PENC, AIA/NC, ACEC/NC, and CAGC opposed this bill in 2017 and 2018. If you are interested in participating in the discussion and review of the newly proposed bill
  •  language and on this issue in 2019, please email PENC lobbyists Laurie Onorio (ljo@walkwest.com)
  •  and David Collins (dcollins@walkwest.com)
  •  
  •  

 

Looking Forward

Both chambers resume the special session on Monday. While Voter ID has made its way through the Senate, the House will take it up next week. The same holds true for hurricane relief appropriations. The following committees of interest to PENC are currently scheduled to meet in the coming weeks:

 

  •  
  • Mon, Dec 3, 8:30am: House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and Long-Term
  •  Funding Solutions on-sight at the Global TransPark in Kinston. The agenda and some documents and presentations scheduled for this meeting
  • can
  •  be found here [ncleg.net].
  •  
  •  
  • Thurs, Dec 6, 9:00am: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Transportation. Meeting materials
  •  are not yet available online, but we’ll monitor that committee for relevant updates.
  •  
  •  
  • Wed, Dec 12, 10:00am: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Capital Improvements. Meeting
  •  materials are not yet available online, but we’ll monitor that committee for relevant updates.
  •  
  •  
  • Thurs, Dec 13, 10:00am: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Capital Improvements. Meeting
  •  materials are not yet available online, but we’ll monitor that committee for relevant updates.
  •  
  •  
  • Mon, Jan 7, 9:00am: House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and Long-Term
  •  Funding Solutions on-sight at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC
  •  

 

Articles of Interest

 ignored for decades ways to limit Neuse River flooding [wral.com]