week the Governor made his State of the State speech continuing to stress the
same themes he campaigned on: building the economy, reforming education and
promoting government efficiency. In addition to tax reform, the governor called
for a more aggressive energy plan, noting the royalties from oil and natural
gas production could be used to finance infrastructure, education and other
needs. He also called for an infrastructure plan to address North Carolina's
transportation, communication, water and energy needs. Read
widely expected that the Governor’s budget, scheduled for release in March,
will include funding for repair and renovation for public buildings with a
specific focus on community college facilities.
also signed major legislation affecting unemployment insurance. The new law will reduce benefit payments and
increase contributions from employers in order to pay back NC’s debt to the
federal government within three years instead of five.
committees have spent much of their time the last two weeks receiving budget
briefings in joint appropriation committee meetings. These briefings will continue through this
week as well.
New Bills Filed Last Week:
SB 127 (Brown) – Customer Service,
Economic Development Transportation - AN ACT to establish uniform geographical
administrative divisions for the state and to create the commission on
Regionalization Conformity to develop recommendations on (i) conforming the
existing regional divisions of the Department of Transportation, the Department
of Environment and Natural Resources, and the seven regional commissions and
partnerships to these uniform divisions, and (ii) a schedule for conforming
regional divisions of other state agencies that have regional offices. Read
HB 134 (Bumgardner) – Repeal Garden
Parkway Authorization/Funding - AN ACT to remove the Garden Parkway in Gaston
County from the list of Turnpike authority projects and to prevent the
expenditure of any further state funds on the project. Read
SB 112 (Jackson) H94 (Samuelson, McGrady,
- Amend Environmental Laws 2013 - AN ACT
to amend certain environmental and natural resources laws to (1) allow 10-year
landfill developments to apply for a permit to operate; and (2) clarify the
process for appeals from civil penalties assessed by a local government that
has established and administers an erosion and sedimentation control program
approved under G.S. 113A-60 and provide that civil penalties assessed by a
local government pursuant to the sedimentation pollution control act of 1973
shall be remitted to the civil penalty and forfeiture fund, as recommended by
the Environmental Review Commission. Read
SB 108 (Apodaca, Hunt, Ford) HB 120 (Hager,
– Building Inspections/Local Consistency -AN ACT to require approval from the
North Carolina Building Code Council before a unit of local government may
require building inspections in addition to those required by the building Code
and to specify the frequency and effective dates of Code updates. Read
SB 113 (Jackson) HB 89 (McGrady, McElraft,
- AN ACT to require the department of environment and natural resources to
support the application of a regional water supply system for all required
federal approvals, as recommended by the environmental review commission. Read
SB 111 ( Jackson) HB 133 (Bell, Brisson) - AN ACT to allow
the city of Clinton to use the design build method of construction. Read
SB 102 (Hartsell) - AN ACT to
establish the joint legislative public infrastructure oversight commission. Read
Bills Continuing to Follow:
SB 10 (Rabon) - AN ACT establishing the government reduction
and efficiency act of 2013 (State Board and Commission appointments bill) PENC
has requested that the House amend SB 10 by adding a provision that would
require one member of the EMC to be a registered engineer as the existing
legislation requires. Similarly, a
request that one member of the Coastal Resources Commission be a registered
engineer has also been made. Speaker
Tills has indicated that SB 10 would likely be split into two bills and that
some amendments would be made but that this bill, in some form, would be passed
in the House.
SB 76 (Newton) – Domestic Energy Jobs Act This bill has been
given a favorable report in two Senate committees and is scheduled for a vote
on the Senate floor today. House
leadership is not as eager to make changes to the initial legislation passed
last year by only 1 vote and has signaled their intention to slow down this bill.
HB 74 (Murray) - Periodic Review and
Expiration of Rules.
This bill would provide for a resubmission of all rules 10 years after
implementation. The bill has been
referred to the Regulatory Reform Committee.
Business 40 Work Accelerated
no doubt that the Business 40 improvement project will be a major pain, state
transportation officials concede, but drivers can perhaps find some comfort in
learning that it will all be over a year sooner than originally planned. Read
Lawmakers mull options for highway funding
are looking at various options to address the growing shortfall in
road-building funds in the state Department of Transportation.
state gas tax generates much of the money for DOT, but with more fuel-efficient
cars and an increasing number of hybrids and electric vehicles, the gas tax
isn't getting the job done. Read
sponsor of the latest round of legislation intended to allow hydraulic
fracturing for natural gas in North Carolina made clear Thursday that he does
not see the legislation as rushed. Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wilson, said he believes
the state missed an opportunity to have the legislation, and the industry, in
place during the height of the Great Recession, alleviating job losses.
"It is unfortunate we weren't able to do this four or five years
ago," Newton said. His comment came as the Senate Commerce Committee
became the second to approve the legislation, which now goes to the Senate
floor. The bill would allow the issuing of permits for hydraulic fracturing
drilling as early as March 2015. It would also set up a tax system for the
extracted shale gas, allowing for a low, 1-percent rate early on but rising to
as much as 6-percent by 2020.
Thursday's committee meeting, the legislation was amended to reiterate language
from the 2012 hydraulic fracturing law that no permits would be issued until
the state Mining and Energy Commission has put regulations in place. Another
change sought to clarify that wastewater, and not hydraulic fracturing
chemicals, could be permanently stored underground. That provision prompted
worries from Sen. Angela Bryant, D-Nash, that it might allow wastewater from
fracking operations in other states to be pumped underground in this state.
Newton, though, pledged that he would work on a change before the bill was
heard on the Senate floor to ensure that practice was not allowed.
groups say that any pumping of the salty wastewater back underground can create
environmental problems, including drinking water contamination. Committee
members indicated that further changes may also come related to bonding
requirements for drilling companies. The bill is expected to be taken up by the
full Senate next week.(Scott Mooneyham, THE INSIDER, 2/22/13).
in renewable energy and efficiency has grown rapidly over the last five years,
totaling $1.4 billion, according to an analysis commissioned by the N.C.
Sustainable Energy Commission. The analysis shows investments growing by
five-fold during the period and that state policies driving the growth helped
to contribute $1.7 billion to the gross state product, including secondary
benefits. That figure includes the costs of construction and state incentives,
the impact on utility customers, energy efficiency benefits and the reduced
energy generated by traditional technology. The analysis was done by RTI
International, a nonprofit research institute based in Research Triangle Park,
and Boston energy consulting firm La Capra Associates. The analysis comes as
state legislators consider changes to policies credited with helping create markets
in solar and wind power, and energy efficiency.(Bruce Henderson, THE CHARLOTTE
Pat McCrory said Friday that he has joined the Outer Continental Shelf
Governors Coalition, a group of coastal governors that advocates for offshore
energy production. "Pursuing responsible exploration and development of
our offshore resources will help us reach our shared goal of greater energy
independence and will create thousands of jobs," McCrory said in the release.
The coalition provides a discussion and policy platform for offshore energy
issues shared by coastal states and the federal government. The coalition
includes governors from Alaska, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Mississippi,
Alabama, South Carolina and now North Carolina. Gov. Nikki Haley of South
Carolina and Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia sent a letter supporting offshore
drilling to President Barack Obama's new Interior Secretary designate, Sally
Jewell.(NEWS RELEASE, 2/22/13).
business and government leaders are hopeful the long-delayed I-26 Connector
project may start moving forward under Gov. Pat McCrory. The Asheville Area
Chamber of Commerce hopes to get two members of the new governor's cabinet –
Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker – to
visit in May to discuss ways to accelerate work on the roughly $500 million
project, which aims to siphon traffic from Bowen Bridge and revamp Interstate
240 in West Asheville. Freshman Rep. Nathan Ramsey, R-Buncombe, has been
appointed to the transportation subcommittee of the House Appropriations
Committee and says getting action on the project is one of his top three
priorities. City Councilman Jan Davis, chairman of the group of area government
officials that works with the state on transportation priorities for Buncombe
and adjoining counties, said the group has been working for months to build
support for movement on the project. "We’re not just sitting back waiting
for something to happen," Davis said. "We’ve got to elevate
this" as a priority.
residents have been debating the I-26 Connector since the General Assembly
passed legislation in 1989 that dramatically increased highway funding and
identified the project as one of a handful of urban "loop" roads the
new money would pay for. The project would involve adding bridges connecting to
U.S. 19-23 north of Bowen Bridge, widening I-240 in West Asheville and building
a new I-40/I-26/I-240 interchange on the eastern side of town. Environmentalists
and many West Asheville residents have criticized plans to widen I-240 in that
area to eight lanes, arguing that would harm neighborhoods and would be
overkill. There have been lengthy debates over just how the bypass of the Bowen
Bridge over the French Broad River should be routed and whether plans should
include a new way for bicyclists and pedestrians to use the existing bridge.
The lack of consensus on those questions slowed the project, Ramsey said.
"It’s not the state government’s blame entirely that I-26 hasn’t
happened," he said. "Some of it has to come back to our community.
When the money was available, we weren’t ready." In the meantime, higher
gas prices, increased fuel efficiency and limits on the gas tax have weakened the
state’s ability to pay for new roads. (Mark Barrett, ASHEVILLE CITIZEN-TIMES,
Sequester to Cut $309 Million from NC
up its PR war to avoid automatic March 1 federal budget cuts, the White House
on Monday released a list of $309 million in funding reductions that would hit
North Carolina if the budget action actually happens. Read
adviser to Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday that the governor's office is in the
beginning stages of talks with lawmakers on an "evolutionary" tax
reform plan, as opposed to some of the "rather revolutionary"
concepts that have been discussed. Tony Almeida, senior adviser to McCrory for
jobs and the economy, told a gathering of nonprofit representatives from across
the state that recent discussions between the governor's office and House and
Senate leaders have focused on a plan that would reduce the corporate and
personal income tax rates over three or four years, while closing tax loopholes
and eliminating some tax exemptions. The plan, Almeida said at a forum of the
N.C. Center for Nonprofits at N.C. State University, would be revenue neutral.
He didn't mention sales taxes in his talk, although most tax reform proposals
have included some increase or broadening of the sales tax to offset income tax
losses. Almeida said the state has an opportunity to create a more pro-growth,
simple tax code that is more competitive with neighboring states.
same meeting, Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, a key House player in tax reform,
said House members have mixed feelings about the plan circulated by Sen. Bob
Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, in recent months that would eliminate personal and
corporate income taxes in favor of a broader and higher sales tax.
"Certainly the leadership that Sen. Rucho has shown on this has definitely
not gone unnoticed and is appreciated and is a good starting point for
us," Lewis said. He said House members are taking a "strong
look" at Rucho's plan. "There are some parts of the plan that have
broad support in the House … and there are some parts of the plan, like any
other piece of legislation, that some folks in the House think they have a
little bit better idea," Lewis said.
added that he hopes a plan will emerge in early April that is agreed upon by
the House, Senate and governor. "We are in serious talks to try to have
one tax plan," he said. "I very, very much want to avoid competing
tax plans. And if the Senate goes first, hopefully it will be with a plan that
we've all agreed that we can support, and the same thing would be for the House
or even the governor."(Patrick Gannon, THE INSIDER, 2/26/13).