week the NC General Assembly faces their Crossover deadline. By Thursday at midnight those bills that have
not successfully passed in one chamber or the other are not eligible to
“crossover” to the other chamber and, consequently, are essentially dead. However, there are always exceptions if there
is enough will to move a bill that did not make the crossover. Sometimes
these bills are resurrected by combining them with another bill that has made
crossover or “gutting” a bill that has made crossover but is not likely to
with appropriation or finance impacts are not subject to the crossover
deadline. For this reason, the highly anticipated tax reform bill that has been
in the media this past week has not yet been released as a bill although we are learning more.
Additionally, the Senate’s budget bill will also be put off for
introduction until next week.
Tax Reform Talk But No Bill Yet
leaders continue to release more details about a tax reform plan that they
promise will make the state more economically competitive. Senate leader Phil
Berger, anticipating the criticism, repeatedly referred to the plan as fair and
broad-based, saying the vast majority of North Carolinians would see a tax cut.
"Everyone pays something," Berger said during a news conference held
at the Legislative Building. "The more you spend, the more you pay."
The plan would lower the personal income tax to 4.5 percent for most residents,
from a current high, marginal rate of 7.75 percent. Corporate taxes would fall
from 6.0 to 6.9 percent, and the state franchise tax would drop slightly. The
state and local sales tax rate, now 6.75 percent in most counties, would drop
to 6.5 percent. Business franchise taxes would also fall slightly. The revenue
from the tax cuts would largely be made up with the expansion of the sales tax
to cover a majority of services in the state, although business-to-business
transactions would be left out by allowing transactions involving payers of the
franchise tax to be exempted. Berger and Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, also
said the plan would eliminate pages of tax exemptions, deductions and
plan received a fairly lukewarm response from Gov. Pat McCrory. "A number
of tax bills have already been filed and we anticipate more to come. We will
review the strengths of each proposal and work to reach consensus on a plan
that will make our state more competitive for job creation,": McCrory said
in a written statement. Berger said Senate leaders had discussed the plan with
McCrory and House leaders. Both McCrory and House Speaker Thom Tillis have said
they support reworking the state's tax structure, but it is unclear whether
they will back the kind of extensive rewrite proposed by Senate leaders.
ideas on the table including capping local sales tax
week after Senate Republicans unveiled an ambitious - yet controversial - tax
overhaul measure, the forthcoming legislation continues to take shape.
the ideas on the table: capping localities' ability to add to the state sales
tax at 1.5 percent instead of the current go from the current 4.75 to 5
percent). But any change is likely to unnerve local governments, given the
restraint on their ability to raise revenue.
percent. It's part of how lawmakers get
the 6.5 percent combined state and local sales tax (The state sales tax would)
Bob Rucho, a Charlotte Republican, said localities won't lose money because the
plan will create more economic growth for them, and thus more tax revenue.
"We want to make sure municipalities and local governments are kept where
they are," he said. "And any growth will come from economic
ideas being considered:
- The nonprofit sales tax exemption could be capped for the first three years in
declining amounts before being eliminated in the fourth year.
- The much ballyhooed small business tax break on the first $50,000 in income -
which came under scrutiny but lawmakers defended - may end after this year.
- Business-to-business transactions would not face an expanded state sales tax and
capital purchases would also be exempted. Other current business exemptions may
continue, largely in the manufacturing and agriculture industries.
- The new Working Families tax break could range from $8,000 to $4,000 depending
on income for those making between $30,000 and $75,000, with the amount
diminishing as income rises. It would last two years before expiring.
- Most existing tax credits would end at the end of the year, but the renewable
energy credit and the cigarette export credit could continue for a couple
- State and local privilege taxes could expire in 2015, but municipalities may
keep a small privilege tax with a cap.
- The franchise tax would likely extend to limited liability companies (LLCs) in
2015. It could be capped at $5,000 and those with limited revenues would pay
only a $500 minimum.
who is helping lead the effort, said the legislation is still in draft form and
nothing is certain about the bill. But potential components of the plan are
emerging from conversations with lawmakers, lobbyists and experts."We
still have some adjustments that need to be done," Rucho said, cautioning
that the bill has gone through "100 iterations" at this point.
"There is nothing in rock and stone right now."
What Engineers Need to Know – The list of
services to be included in the expansion of the sales tax will likely include
professional engineering services – although Senate leaders are looking at ways
to exempt business to business transactions and the tax would not apply to
services provided to governmental entities.
Because no bill is actually available to review, however, this
information cannot be confirmed. We will
continue to carefully monitor this legislation as information becomes
major environmental bills received favorable reports in the Senate
Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee yesterday.
Nutrient Management Standards Reform Act – SB 515, sponsored by Senators Gunn
the Jordan Lake Rules and related Session Laws
the Legislative Research Commission (composed of 5 from the Senate and 5 from
the House) to establish the Jordan Lake Study Subcommittee to study issues
related to water quality in Jordan Lake.
The LRC must report the results of the study to the 2014 Regular Session
of the 2013 General Assembly.
DENR and EMC to consult with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. EPA
to identify mitigation strategies that focus on treatment and remediation of
Jordan Lake rather than upstream mitigation.
What Engineers Need to Know – This is a
very controversial bill and even NCDENR had a difficult time articulating their
position on this bill (see below). If
any of our members would like to be involved in further discussion on this
issue, please contact PENC immediately.
Amend Environmental Laws 2013 – SB 112
sponsored by Senator Jackson
bill has 15 different sections with two being of primary importance to
11 amends the rules in the NCAC to provide for reduced flow alternatives to the
Daily Flow Rates for Design for wastewater systems as required by Table No. 1
in 15 A NCAC 18A. 1949 (b). This section
would exempt proposed wastewater systems from complying with the Daily flow
Rate for Design and any design flow standard established by the Commission for
Public Health or the Department of Health and Human Services provided i) the
daily flow rate for design of the system is less than the rate listed by rule
and ii) the daily flow rate for design can be achieved through engineering
design that utilizes low-flow fixtures and low-flow technologies, and iii) the
design is prepared, sealed and signed by a professional engineer licensed in
section further provides that proposed wastewater systems with a daily flow for
design of less than 3,000 gallons per day are not required to obtain
state-level review for the system.
Amends the definition of the term “built-upon area” as it pertains to
What Engineers Need to Know – For more
information on the other 13 sections of the bill, please contact PENC. This
bill is on the calendar today for third reading and is expected to meet the
Coastal Policy Reform Act of 2013 – Senate Bill
151, sponsored by Senator Rabon
bill would 1) Amend Marine Fisheries Laws 2) Amend Terminal Groin Construction
Law 3) Amend CAMA Permitting Law and 4) Clarify that Cities May enforce
Ordinances within the State’s Public Trust Areas
the Terminal Groin provisions the bill would:
that an environmental impact statement prepared for a terminal groin pursuant
to federal law is sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the State terminal
the requirement for financial assurance adequate to cover the cost of 1) long term maintenance and monitoring of
the terminal groin 2) implementation of mitigation measures set out in the
inlet management plan 3) restoration of public, private or public trust
property if the groin has an adverse impact on the environment or property.
that the requirements of an inlet management plan must be reasonable and may
not be required to address speculative matters or impose requirements whose costs
outweigh the benefits.
the requirement that an applicant for a terminal groin demonstrate that
structures or infrastructure are imminently threatened by erosion and that
nonstructural approaches to erosion control, including relocation of threatened
structures, are impractical.
that the CRC consider the benefits of a terminal groin when determining whether
the terminal groin will result in significant adverse impacts to private
property or the public beach.
the requirement that the inlet management plan be adequate for purposes of
monitoring and mitigating the impacts of the terminal groin.
the limitation that no more than four terminal groins may be permitting.
the prohibition on the use of certain types of local government financing to
construct a terminal groin.
the prohibition on using State funds to construct a terminal groin unless the
General Assembly enacts legislation appropriating funds explicitly for such
the direction to DENR to adopt rules to implement the terminal groin law.
the CAMA provision included in bill, currently CAMA requires any person
developing property in an area of environmental concern to obtain a CAMA
permit. Section 4 of the bill would
limit areas of environmental concern to those areas so designated at the time
the permit application is submitted.
HB 857 – Public Contracts/Construction
Methods/Design Build/P3, sponsored by Rep. Arp.
bill, as previously reported, is supported by the Architects and Professional
Engineers as a way to ensure Quality Based Selection when these construction
delivery methods are used.
bill received a favorable report in House Finance this morning and will be
heard on the House floor today in time to make the crossover deadline.
HB 739 – Civil Procedure/Require
Certificate of Merit,
sponsored by Rep. Rob Bryan, co-sponsored by Representatives Moffitt, Hager and
the bill was watered down to address the concerns expressed by Carolinas
General Contractors, the bill hit a roadblock in House Judiciary B with
concerns expressed by Representatives Stam, McGrady and Glazier. Representative Glazier wanted more data to
substantiate the harm being done to designers.
Representatives Stam and McGrady did not like carving out protections
for “a special interest group”.
the bill was pulled from the committee it will not make the crossover
deadline. However, we are currently
exploring other options to determine if there is another path the bill can take
in the House such as adding a court filing fee or rolling it to another
House on Wednesday tentatively approved a bill that would promote the use of
North Carolina-grown timber in state government construction at the risk of
barring state agencies from seeking the prestigious LEED green building
certification. The 78-34 vote followed a lengthy debate that saw several
Republicans expressing reservations about the GOP-sponsored bill. The final
vote will be Monday Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican, said there was
a lot of uncertainty and concern after the bill unexpectedly changed from
calling for a study of the issue to changes in state law that would restrict
which green building certifications state agencies would be allowed to use. Her
amendment to delay implementation of the bill for one year narrowly lost.(Craig
Jarvis, THE NEWS & OBSERVER, 5/09/13).
is preparing to file a legal challenge to a measure that would force the merger
of the city’s water system with the Metropolitan Sewerage District. State Rep.
Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, introduced the merger bill, HB 488, which won
legislative approval Wednesday and now is before Gov. Pat McCrory. The
Asheville City Council on Tuesday unanimously supported a resolution to file suit
over the merger, which city officials say would force a debt default and
violate state constitutional limits of the General Assembly’s authority over
municipal property. "The city is in fact a person, and this is in fact
personal property,” City Councilman Cecil Bothwell said, “and taking personal
property without compensation is against the law.” Moffitt could not be reached
to comment but has said the merger would not force a bond default or hurt the
city’s bond rating. McCrory said Wednesday he will let the bill become law so
that the legal challenge by the city of Asheville can run its course. That
means the bill will become law at midnight May 13 and marks the first bill the
Republican hasn't signed since becoming governor in January. In a statement,
McCrory said issues surrounding the transfer "potentially raise a number
of complicated inter-governmental issues."(John Boyle, ASHEVILLE
CITIZEN-TIMES, 5/08/13; THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 5/08/13).
popular idea among conservatives to attempt to limit the growth of government
spending has been approved in a North Carolina legislative committee despite
arguments it could hurt the state's ability to borrow money cheaply. The panel
voted mostly along party lines Thursday for a "Taxpayer Bill of
Rights" that ultimately would have to be approved by citizens in a
constitutional referendum in November 2014. The measure would limit spending
growth annually to no more than population growth and inflation. Excess
revenues would be placed in the state's rainy day reserve fund. Once the fund
is full, extra revenues would be returned to taxpayers. Deputy State Treasurer
Vance Holloman told the committee the measure could tie the hands of
legislators to raise revenues during difficult fiscal times.(Gary D. Robertson,
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 5/09/13).
about 40 minutes of debate on Thursday, the House Government Committee voted
21-14 in favor of letting voters decide whether to limit government spending in
the N.C. Constitution through a "Taxpayer Bill of Rights." Put
simply, the measure would establish a General Fund spending limit based on the
previous year's limit increased by a formula that takes into account inflation
and population increases. The governor and General Assembly then could not
spend more than that limit without a two-thirds vote of the Legislature,
according to a bill summary. Any revenue collected above the spending limit
would go into an emergency fund, which could be spent by the state budget
director in the event of a shortfall. The bill also would allow for the return
of money to taxpayers if the fund exceeds a certain amount.
John Blust, R-Guilford, a bill sponsor, said the state has experienced three
"budget emergencies" in the past two decades, each time caused by too
much spending during good economic times. A TABOR amendment would prevent that,
he said. Another sponsor, Rep. Bert Jones, R-Rockingham, said what he hears
most from constituents is that the state needs to spend within its means.
argued that the TABOR formula would make it difficult for the state to respond
to pressing needs or to put extra money in areas such as education, road
construction or health care, given the state's aging population. "When you
pass a rigid, straightjacket bill like this you are not allowing members of the
General Assembly to make decisions with respect to the reality of the needs of
the future of the state," said Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham.
State Treasurer Vance Holloman told lawmakers that the amendment could result
in the lowering of the state's bond rating. Dallas Woodhouse of Americans for
Prosperity questioned that idea and suggested that the state would retain its
bond rating if it pays its bills and doesn't overspend. "All TABOR does is
keep this body from overspending when times are great so they don't have to
make mean and cruel and difficult cuts when we have economic downturns,"
said voters should decide whether they want the amendment. "I think it
puts the power back in the hands of the people in North Carolina," said
Rep. Rayne Brown, R-Davidson.
bill must be approved by a three-fifths majority of the House and Senate and
majority of voters in a referendum. Blust said a constitutional amendment is
needed to prevent future General Assemblies from easily repealing the law if
they wanted to increase spending above the limit. "We need strong
constitutional protections," Blust said.
measure next goes to the Finance Committee.(Patrick Gannon, THE INSIDER,
Pat McCrory late last week appointed former Rep. Mitch Gillespie of McDowell
County to two posts -- the Southern States Energy Board and the Interstate Oil
and Gas Compact Commission. Gillespie is assistant secretary for the
environment at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
governor also made several other appointments: George Howard of Wake County to
the Interstate Mining Commission; Tom Shircliff of Mecklenburg County to the
Biofuels Center of North Carolina board; Doranna Anderson of Wake County to NC
Thinks advisory board; Dennis Streets of Chatham County and Anne Precythe of
Johnston County to the N.C. Interagency Council for Coordinating Homeless
Programs; Dr. Bruce Hilton of Catawba County, Todd Poole of Davie County and
Dr. Michael Estramonte of Mecklenburg County to the Chiropractic Examiners
Board; and Michael Boose of Cumberland County to the Interstate Compact.(NEWS
Boards and Commissions
House on Thursday approved a new version of the bill that would replace more
than 100 incumbents on regulatory boards with Republican-appointed members.
This version spares the state's 12 special superior court judges, the state
Utilities Commission and the state Board of Elections. Gov. Pat McCrory has
already named elections board and utilities commissioners, so it was moot to
include them in the bill. Next, the Senate will weigh in. Most Democrats
opposed the bill. Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Democrat from Greensboro, said 90 of
the mostly Democratic-appointed incumbents will be removed from environmental
boards. She said language prohibiting conflicts of interest for members of the
Environmental Management Commission was removed from the earlier House version.
"This is still an unprecedented sweep of board members on these important
oversight commissions," she said. The House voted down her amendment to
restore the conflict of interest provision, and then voted to approve the bill
68-43. Rep. Tim Moore, a Republican from Kings Mountain, said state ethics law
made the language unnecessary. Last month, a compromise between the House and
Senate fell apart. The main sticking point between the two chambers was the
Senate's insistence on replacing the judges.(Craig Jarvis, THE NEWS &
House has approved a bill requiring periodic, 10-year review of all state
agency rules, setting up a process in which both agencies, the state Rules Review
Commission and a committee of legislators would examine older rules to ensure
that they are needed. The bill, approved in a 90-24 vote, now goes to the
Senate for consideration. Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake, explained that the review
process would allow agencies to categorize rules in three ways -- those that
are deemed unnecessary, those that are necessary without substantial public
interest, and those that are necessary but have generated substantial public
interest. Most of the review process would fall onto rules deemed necessary but
that have generated public interest. Part of the way that public interest would
be gauged would be based on an agencies initial classification on a website,
and then soliciting comment for another 60 days. Murry said the legislation was
put together with input from those with diverse views on government regulation.
But Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, one of those voting against the
legislation, said she worried that agency staff would be too pressed for time
to adequately review needed rules. She added that automatic expiration of rules
could jeopardize state administration of some federal laws. Rep. Ruth
Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, one of the bill's sponsors, said some changes to the
legislation would be sought as it moves to the Senate.(Scott Mooneyham, THE
bill that would roll back energy-efficiency standards for commercial builders
on Monday passed the state House Commerce Committee. Supporters said it would
lower costs for commercial builders by clearing out directives that require
them to meet a 2012 standard. The bill would revert energy conservation codes
to 2009 standards, which are 30 percent lower than today’s. Rep. John Torbett,
R-Gaston, said the standards deter commercial builders from taking over vacant
buildings because it would cost too much to bring them up to code. “I think we
need to have as few restrictions as possible,” he said. “It’s killing people in
Gaston County.” Speaking against the bill were representatives of energy-efficient
material businesses. American Chemistry Council spokesman D’Lane Wisner said
chemical production, which goes into energy-efficient materials, employs 41,000
in North Carolina. The bill, he said, would “cause our state to miss out on
significant energy conservation and will put North Carolina in the bottom tier
for states in energy efficiency.” The bill heads to the House Regulatory Reform
Committee. It will need approval from the full House and Senate.(Chris Kardish,
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 5/13/13).
bill repealing the 2007 law that requires power companies to obtain some of
their power from renewable sources would have failed a Senate Finance Committee
vote last Wednesday had the chairman actually counted the ayes and nos,
interviews with committee members show. Committee Co-chairman Bill Rabon
declared the measure had passed after a voice vote and ignored calls for a
formal vote count, video of the meeting shows. The episode is far from
unprecedented but demonstrates the broad latitude committee chairmen have to
push measures they favor or that are backed by key legislative leaders. Senate
rules prohibit what is known as a roll call vote, during which each member's
name is called and they vote on the bill. Rules do allow "division,"
which amounts to a show of hands for and against the bill. A division vote
would not record how each member voted but does give an accurate count of the
ayes and nos. At the end of Wednesday's 44-minute hearing, Rabon called for a
voice vote, with members simply answering "aye" or "no" in
two groups. Reports from those in the room and a review of meeting video
indicate that the "no" votes were louder than the "yes"
votes. Several members, including Sens. Josh Stein, D-Wake, and Martin Nesbitt,
D-Buncombe, can be heard calling for division before and after the voice vote.
Rabon ignored those calls and gaveled the meeting to a close. He did not return
phone calls to WRAL News seeking comment. The practice of slamming down the
gavel before a formal vote count can be taken did not originate with
Republicans. Democratic chairmen used the maneuver when Sen. Marc Basnight,
D-Dare, was president pro tem of the Senate. "It's a long-time practice.
I've seen it since 1971," said Ran Coble, director of the N.C. Center for
Public Policy Research. Coble is a former legislative staffer and long-time
observer of the General Assembly.
Senate Finance Committee has 38 members: 27 Republicans and 11 Democrats..
Attendance records from Wednesday's meeting show two senators, Tom Apodaca,
R-Henderson, and Mike Woodard, D-Durham, were absent when the vote was taken. A
third senator, Peter Brunstetter, R-Forsyth, was not in the room when the final
committee vote occurred. That left 10 Democrats and 25 Republicans present and
voting. Interviews with individual Democratic senators confirm that all 10
would have voted against the measure. That meant the bill would have needed
support from at least 18 of the 25 Republicans to pass. If eight of those
Republicans voted "no," there would have been no way for the bill to
pass had Rabon sustained the call for division. In fact, WRAL News spoke with
eight Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee who said they opposed
the bill and voted no on Wednesday. Two more refused to disclose how they
voted. Several of those Republicans said they did not like the protections for
renewable energy and would have voted against the 2007 bill. However, they
added, businesses have made investments based on the assurances given in that
2007 bill. "I think we need to honor those agreements," said Sen.
Wesley Meredith, R-Cumberland, who said he voted against the repeal measure. In
addition to Meredith, Republican Sens. Fletcher Hartsell of Cabarrus, Brent
Jackson of Sampson, Jeff Tarte of Mecklenburg, Jerry Tillman of Randolph,
Austin Allran of Catawba and Tommy Tucker of Union said they voted against the
bill. Sen. Neil Hunt, R-Wake, said, "It needed to be amended," when
asked about the bill. When asked if would have raised his hand in favor of the
bill during a division account, Hunt shook his head and repeated, "It
needed to be amended." Without the support of those eight Republicans,
there is no way the measure could have passed the committee. Two other
Republicans declined to say how they voted.(Mark Binker and Laura Leslie, WRAL
proposal to promote the use of North Carolina-grown timber in state government
buildings could prevent state offices from receiving the prestigious LEED green
building certification. The legislation, which has the backing of the
Weyerhaeuser Corp. and the N.C. Forestry Association, easily passed the House
Agriculture Committee on Tuesday by a vote of 26-8. It was the first vote on
the bill since it was introduced a month ago. The state's timber industry can't
bid on many state construction projects because tree farms in the state
typically don't meet the LEED sustainable forestry standard, said Weyerhaeuser
spokeswoman Nancy Thompson. As a result, building projects in North Carolina
seeking the nation's premier green building seal end up sourcing their lumber
from other states or even from other countries, supporters said. "LEED
creates incentives to import foreign wood and also ignores quality wood grown
within our own borders," said the bill's sponsor, Michele Presnell, a
Republican who represents Haywood, Madison and Yancey counties on the western
edge of the state.
legislation was opposed by the U.S. Green Building Council as well as by
Charlotte-based Nucor Corp., the nation's largest steel producer and North
America's largest recycler. The use of Nucor materials during construction
boosts LEED ratings because Nucor beams and girders are made from over 90
percent recycled content. "LEED benefits domestic steel," said
Nucor's representative at the hearing, William Culpepper IV, of the Moore &
Van Allen law firm. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design and is a widely accepted standard for green building certification. It
was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and is based on a grading system
using a 110-point scale for commercial buildings and a 136-point scale for
residential buildings. The standard weighs energy efficiency as well as indoor
air quality, water conservation, reduction of commuting miles and a host of
other sustainability measures. Presnell's bill applies only to state government
construction and renovation, not to construction by private businesses and
residential developers, which reap the majority of LEED certifications.
LEED forestry standard, called the Forest Stewardship Council, is stricter with
regard to the use of clear cutting, herbicides and pesticides than other
forestry standards, such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and American
Tree Farm System, said Laura Deaton Klauke, programs director for the North Carolina
chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. More than 98 percent of North
Carolina's timberland -- about 1.4 million acres -- participates in the
non-LEED forestry standards. Only 0.7 percent of the state's timberland --
10,455 acres -- is cultivated according to the LEED-approved Forest Stewardship
Council standards, said Brian Haines, spokesman for the N.C. Forest Service.
The bill requires that state buildings seek green certification from
organizations that recognize multiple forestry standards, not just the standard
accepted for LEED certification. The bill also restricts state buildings
seeking green certification to using an evaluation system that was developed by
and is approved by the American National Standards Institute, a condition that
would rule out the LEED system, which is not approved by ANSI. "This is a
very blunt instrument," said Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Republican from
Henderson County and a former national president of the Sierra Club, who voted
against the bill.(John Murawski, THE NEWS & OBSERVER, 5/08/13).
years, state environmental groups have talked about the possibility of offshore
wind power in North Carolina. Interest has intensified in the past year as
plans to develop the resource advanced through federal channels. According to
the National Renewable Energy Lab, North Carolina has the greatest offshore
wind resource along the Eastern Seaboard. The state has a long coastline, and
construction and labor costs are among the cheapest in the Southeast. But most
important, the sea floor drops off slowly from the coast, leaving large
stretches of water 98 feet deep or shallower. That depth is ideal for wind
farms, said Brian O'Hara, president of the Southeastern Coastal Wind Coalition.
Three areas have been approved for development, all designated by the federal
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. One is east of Albemarle Sound, and the
other two are below the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Five companies have
expressed interest in developing wind installations in North Carolina.
there are no offshore wind turbines in the United States, questions arise about
how the turbines would affect fish and tourism. In the southernmost parcels,
installations of tall, white wind turbines would be most visible from Sunset
Beach and Ocean Isle Beach, and some residents are concerned that tourism could
suffer. But supporters say any wind farms in North Carolina would be
constructed far from land, in the path of better wind resources and only
minimally visible from the beach. "At 10 miles and more offshore, the
turbines appear very small on the horizon," O'Hara said. "They may
not be visible at all on many hazy summer days."
installations also could affect the recreational fishing industry. The turbines
could provide habitat for threatened species and boost their populations.
"The base of the wind turbine that goes into the sea floor has, placed
around it, something that engineers call a scour apron," said Pete Peterson,
professor of marine sciences, biology and ecology at the University of North
Carolina Chapel Hill. "It's a huge pile of very large rocks that stands up
to 6 feet tall off the bottom, and extends out a substantial distance around
the entire pile. That is exactly what you would build if you wanted to do a
restoration of the rocky habitat for fish." If the scour aprons can mimic
rocky-reef habitat and fish populations grow, authorities might be more
inclined to ease fishing restrictions that have frustrated some commercial and
recreational fishermen. It could also give fishermen new places to drop their
lines, and charter companies could get additional business. "For
recreational guys, I think it'll be beneficial for the boats that can actually
reach a reef. Customers would really like that," said Capt. Trevor Smith,
owner of ProFishNC Charters in Wrightsville Beach. But commercial fishermen
remain largely noncommittal. Much uncertainty hinges on the lack of information
-- it is unknown whether boats would be allowed close to the installations or
whether fishing would be permitted.
could be nearly a decade before officials have answers. Experts have estimated
that it could take more than a year for leases to be officially issued, and
more regulatory steps have to be completed before construction can begin.
Still, for environmental activists who have spent years advocating for offshore
wind, having even a vague timeline is a victory. "It's not a question of
'if' development will happen," O'Hara said, "but rather when and
where it will happen."(Kate Elizabeth Queram, WILMINGTON STAR-NEWS,
Lupton, a 30-year Navy veteran, has been named N.C. State Ports Authority and
Global Transpark Director of Logistics. He starts Monday and will be
responsible for synchronizing and coordinating activities of the ports and the
Transpark. Lupton most recently served as deputy director in the in the Office
of Naval Operations Staff. He will make $140,000 per year. Shelley Blake will
be the new agency general counsel. Blake has been in private practice and is an
adjunct professor at N.C. Central University School of Law. She starts May 28
and at a salary of $118,000.(Dome, THE NEWS & OBSERVER, 5/06/13).
City Council members struggled Monday night to understand how a consultant they
hired concluded that Charlotte Douglas International Airport has been
"spectacularly successful" while city-run, but should still be run by
a new, regional authority. Council member Beth Pickering said that before the
conclusions were released, some had thought the city-funded study would
conclude that the city should stay in control of the airport. "You
certainly laid those concerns to rest," she told consultant Bob Hazel.
City Council commissioned the $150,000 study in March, in response to the push
in the legislature to take control of Charlotte Douglas from the city and give
it to a regional authority. Hazel, a former US Airways vice president who works
for the firm Oliver Wyman, recommended the airport be transferred from the city
to an authority. A bill to do that is pending in the legislature. Monday's
meeting turned tense at points. Several council members said they disagreed
with Hazel's conclusions and some said they believed Hazel came in with his
mind already made up in favor of an authority, which he denied. Council member
Patrick Cannon said he didn't realize Hazel had been employed by US Airways,
and that if he had known that, he might have felt differently about hiring him.
US Airways is Charlotte Douglas' largest tenant. "It was fully
disclosed," Hazel told City Council of his former employment.
report, released last week, showed Charlotte Douglas has the lowest
cost-per-passenger out of the top 25 U.S. airports and some of the lowest costs
of any airport in the nation. "There is no history of issues here,"
Hazel said. But instituting a new airport authority, he said, would be the best
way to give the airport a chance at continuing to be successful in the future.
Hazel said that an authority would be able to function more like a business,
get better oversight from a dedicated board, and be ensured freedom from city
interference in the future. Best practices call for running the airport as an
authority, and Hazel said his conclusion would have been the same whether or
not there was a political fight over the airport. "If you believe the
airport is really a business or collection of businesses rather than a public
service – which I do – then it benefits from being run like a business,"
said Hazel. Legislation to create a 13-member regional authority is being
considered in the N.C. House. It has already passed the state Senate, and since
it is a "local bill," Gov. Pat McCrory's signature isn't required.
The House will likely hear the bill in committee later this month before taking
a final vote.(Ely Portillo, THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/06/13).
Speaker Thom Tillis raised the possibility of changing a bill that would create
a Charlotte airport authority or carrying over the measure until next year if
agreement cannot be reached. Addressing a Charlotte Chamber group on Wednesday,
he said that he would not "put much stock" in current provisions of
the airport bill and that he wanted a "bill that makes sense." The
measure, which is now before the House after it was passed by the Senate, would
take control of Charlotte Douglas International Airport from the city and give
it to an authority. Tillis also said legislators could pass a bill or set up a
committee to study the issue. Charlotte officials were in Raleigh on Wednesday
in an effort to block the airport bill. City Manager Ron Carlee said he hoped
legislators would delay the measure. "We’re not off the ground, we’re
taxiing down the runway," he said of the bill. "We can go back to the
the consultant Charlotte hired to study whether its airport should be run by an
authority was recommended by US Airways, which was involved last year with a
group working to institute a new airport authority. City officials said they
consulted with Aviation Director Jerry Orr and the airline about picking
consultant Bob Hazel, who is with management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. Hazel
finished a $150,000 study last week that concluded Charlotte Douglas
International Airport would best be governed by an authority, rather than the
city. City Council members were flummoxed by Hazel, who told them that
Charlotte is one of the best-run, lowest-cost airports in the nation and has no
major problems but should still be run by an authority. When the city first
announced it was going to hire a consultant to study the issue of an authority,
some critics said the consultant was going to say what council members wanted
to hear – that the city should continue to run the airport. But it appears the
opposite occurred. In hiring Hazel, the city hired a consultant who generally
believes large airports shouldn’t be run by cities. The city hired Hazel before
US Airways disclosed that it had met with authority supporters last year and
forwarded draft legislation to create an authority to an authority supporter
via email.(Jim Morrill, Steve Harrison and Ely Portillo, THE CHARLOTTE
House on Wednesday tentatively approved a bill to put a new transportation
funding strategy into law, despite concerns from some members that it clears a
path for toll roads in North Carolina and that the formulas that will determine
which projects get built under the plan haven't been written yet. The bill
passed 96-22, and a final vote is expected Thursday before it goes to the
passing the bill, the House unanimously approved an amendment to require that
Department of Transportation, as soon as possible, publish on its website
detailed information about the formulas used to rank transportation projects
and determine which ones get built. The House turned down an amendment from
Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, to give more weight under the new system to
projects that have been on the DOT project list since 1989 or earlier but
haven't been built. But Rep. William Brawley, R-Mecklenburg, a bill sponsor,
said there might be a reason projects that old haven't been built. "Part
of the reason for going to a new plan is that the old plan has gotten a little
old," he said.
Paul Tine, D-Dare, said he would vote against the bill because the formulas
haven't been developed yet and because of concerns that rural areas won't get
their share of funding. He urged lawmakers who shared his concerns to
"keep a very watchful eye" on how the DOT develops its formulas.
Reps. Robert Brawley, R-Iredell, and Dana Bumgardner, R-Gaston, spoke against
the legislation because it allows for toll roads to be built. "We're going
to turn our state into the New Jersey of the Southeast, and I think that's a
mistake," Bumgardner said. Bill advocates responded that tolls would help
build much-needed roads that the state couldn't otherwise afford. "Is a
toll road better than no road?" Rep. William Brawley asked.
argued that the new strategy would funnel more money to major road projects to
reduce congestion around major cities and better connect urban and rural areas.
Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Mecklenburg, said congestion on Interstate 77 in
Charlotte is so bad during rush hours that you could walk faster than the
traffic moves. "And if you don't believe it, I invite you to come and try
it," he said. Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, said House Bill 817 is
"historic legislation" that will help the economy and build ambitious
projects across the state. "It is truly a strategic transportation bill,
and I truly believe this will once again make North Carolina the Good Roads
State," he said.(Patrick Gannon, THE INSIDER, 5/09/13).