the Senate's Regulatory Reform Act is creating much controversy among
environmental groups and local governments there are two items in the
legislation that accomplish several of PENC's major legislative priorities.
SB 612 – Regulatory Reform Act of 2013
week, the Senate Commerce Committee approved sweeping legislation that would
expand efforts begun two years ago that would further reduce or streamline
burdensome regulations that are seen as onerous to business.
proposed committee substitute for Senate Bill 612, released only hours before
the committee meeting, would require cities and counties to repeal any rules
stricter than state or federal law. It would also require a list of
environmental oversight boards and agencies to repeal or rewrite any state rule
stricter than federal regulation on any given matter. Those agencies include
the Mining and Energy Commission, the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources, the Environmental Management Commission, the Commission for Public
Health, the Pesticide Board and the Coastal Resources, Marine Fisheries,
Wildlife Resources and Sedimentation Control commissions. The bill would also
do away with riparian buffers on private property throughout the Neuse and
Tar-Pamlico river basins. The bill would also permit demolition crews,
including those working on old power plants, to dispose of potentially toxic
materials on site, instead of transporting them to a landfill.
bill sponsors, Senators Harry Brown, Andrew Brock and Brent Jackson believe these
changes are necessary to create a state that is more business friendly. The committee approved the bill on a voice
vote that appeared to be on party lines. Its next stop is the Senate floor
sometime this week.
What Does this Mean for Engineers - Of
particular interest to Professional Engineers were the sections of the bill
allowing for fast track permitting for certain environmental permits and an
amendment that provided that a governmental entity (local and state government)
cannot require revisions to a Professional Engineer’s application or plan
unless the reviewer is a Professional Engineer or an Engineering Intern under
the responsible charge of a Professional Engineer. PENC supports both of these provisions as a
way to streamline the permitting process and create more regulatory
Fast Track Permitting – The bill
directs NCDENR to develop minimum design criteria for stormwater runoff
permitting programs and for erosion and sedimentation control plans. The fast-track permitting process would not
include a technical review if the applicant i) complies with the minimum design
criteria and ii) submits an application sealed by the appropriate licensed
professional. NCDENR is instructed to
consult with a technical working group to develop the MDC and submit their
results to the EMC by March 1, 2014.
NCDENR is further directed to identify other permitting programs for
which the fast track permitting process would be appropriate and report to the
ERC by May 1, 2014. PENC expects to be involved with the technical working group that will
develop the MDC requirements.
Chris Millis, PE, has introduced a companion bill with similar requirements.
PE Review of PE Work - One of
PENC’s major Regulatory Reform initiatives has been to allow the Professional
Engineer to truly stand behind the work they do on behalf of governmental
entities by reducing the sometimes unnecessary review work done by individuals
who are not Professional Engineers and, therefore, not qualified to review or critique
the work of a licensed professional.
This language would prohibit the state and its political subdivisions
from requiring revisions to an application or plan that has been prepared by a
PE unless the reviewer is a PE or is an Engineering Intern under the
responsible charge of Professional Engineer.
Further, any required revisions that constitute the practice of
engineering would have to be provided by written notice to the permit applicant
and shall be signed by the PE reviewing or supervising the review of the
In Other News:
U.S. House candidate Carl Mumpower says he may leave the Republican party if
the GOP-controlled legislature approves a bill forcing some local governments
to give up control of their water systems. "The unprecedented use of
eminent domain to seize a city owned water system reveals a party power
structure indifferent to the principles upon which that party is founded,"
the former Asheville city councilman said in a statement. The water bill, as it
is commonly know, is controversial in Asheville. The city says it stands to
lose millions of dollars and control over development if its water system is
merged with a regional authority. City leaders say the legislation is
contributing to a $6 million budget gap that could mean closing popular
amenities like city pools, athletics and the WNC Nature Center. Republican
leaders expect the bill to pass. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory would then have to
sign it into law. Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Asheville, the bill's primary sponsor,
said he agreed with recent amendments extending the legislation to other parts
of the state and helped craft them. House members from Wake and Mecklenburg had
the same concerns, he said. The bill would only apply to places that have a Metropolitan
Sewer District or are contemplating one. Those places include Asheville and at
least two others, he said.(Jon Ostendorff, ASHEVILLE CITIZEN-TIMES, 4/28/13).
Senate has given preliminary approval to a bill transferring the Asheville
water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District. Final approval will be
required before the Senate can return the measure to the House for approval of
Senate changes. It would then go to Gov. Pat McCrory for consideration. During
22 minutes of debate on the Senate floor, bill proponent Sen. Tom Apodaca,
R-Henderson, called the bill a way to ensure the long-term water supply of the
region and Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, called it theft. "This is to
hopefully put together a true regional water system ... to have a secure source
of water going forward and to give us some continuity in how we grow and
provide water," Apodaca said in brief remarks. Nesbitt said legislators
had passed a law in 2004 that prevents Asheville from charging customers outside
the city limits more for water, "and I thought we had peace in the
valley." But then, "We elected Rep. (Tim) Moffitt, who just doesn't
like the city of Asheville," Nesbitt said, referring to the bill's primary
sponsor, a Buncombe County Republican. "There's a whole new approach by
Rep. Moffitt. I don't think he wants to get anything done. He just wants to
abuse the city of Asheville," he said.
predicted that passage of legislation strongly opposed by Asheville and others
will cause problems over time: "You don't start a regional system and get
everybody all tied up in it in a shotgun marriage." He also said senators
should beware of supporting the bill because something similar could happen to
the areas they represent. "If you don't think it's coming your way, you
just wait," he said. "Water is going to be more important than oil at
some point and if you don't think your neighbors will steal from you, observe.
If you've got water and they don't and they've got power and you don't, they'll
take it."(Mark Barrett, ASHEVILLE CITIZEN-TIMES, 4/25/13).
President Obama Taps Anthony Foxx as
Barack Obama today nominated Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to be secretary of
the U.S. Department of Transportation. Read More Here.
Boards and Commissions
compromise between House and Senate Republicans on legislation to clear out
dozens of positions on some state boards and commissions was put in jeopardy
Thursday after Gov. Pat McCrory raised concerns for two of his pending
appointments. It appeared the compromise between House and Senate leaders would
soon go to McCrory's desk, but GOP legislators went their separate ways when
they said the governor's office asked for a fix on the final product. The
Senate went ahead and passed the final bill. But the House, seeking to help
McCrory, unanimously rejected the measure less than an hour later, leaving the
future of all the board and commission changes in doubt. Lawmakers could
approve another bill later that contains most of the contents from Thursday's
GOP wrangling cloaked broader accusations about the bill from Democrats. They
have considered the legislation a partisan ploy to let Republicans and McCrory
fill positions with their allies more quickly than simply after letting expire
the terms of current board members. Many of them were appointed by Democrats.
"The bill remains a power grab that's going to be detrimental to the
people of North Carolina," said Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, the minority
whip, during debate. Republicans said GOP leaders - in control of both
executive and legislative branches for the first time in 140 years - should be
allowed to put people with like-minded views in place. The compromise released
late Wednesday would dismiss immediately or soon all current members of the
Environmental Management Commission, Industrial Commission and Lottery
Commission and direct the governor and legislative leaders to fill their
replacements. It would also reduce the size of Utilities Commission from seven
to five members in 2015. Longtime members of the State Board of Elections,
including Chairman Larry Leake, also would be shown the door.
problem centered around Special Superior Court judges, which are appointed by
the governor and aren't subject to elections like other judges. The compromise
directed that the judges in place as of April 1 would fill out the remainder of
their terms. Their seats would then be abolished. Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake, said
two people who had received letters from McCrory to become these special judges
hadn't taken office by April 1. The office of House Speaker Thom Tillis
identified the pending appointees as outgoing Mecklenburg District Court Judge
Lisa Bell and Ebert "Trip" Watson, an assistant district attorney in
Bladen County. The bill's language "would affect their ability to take
those seats and we didn't want to do that," Murry said. Efforts to resolve
the issue quickly Thursday failed.
GOP leaders sounded frustrated with what they considered an 11th-hour alarm
from McCrory's office and the willingness of the House to repair the bill's
language. "We're not going back to the table" on the bill, said Sen.
Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson and the Senate Rules Committee chairman. "Our
people negotiated in good faith for weeks and thought they had it worked
out." McCrory spokeswoman Crystal Feldman said the governor won't take a
position on the bill until it gets to his desk. McCrory's office has said he
didn't seek the legislation.(Gary D. Robertson, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 4/25/13).