PENC Legislative Updates

 Legislative Update 8-31-17 (10/3/2017) 
   

The North Carolina General Assembly has been busy working throughout August, focusing on wrapping up some bills that were mid-negotiation upon the July adjournment, overriding some of the Governor's vetos, and most visibly, redrawing legislative maps as required by the courts and offering numerous public comment sessions across the state.

The new maps that will be in place soon, will be in effect for 2018 elections. Citizens will want to check districts again before voting because you may find you have a new representative, senator, or both. WRAL did a good job of outlining changes, which you can see by reading the article, but the highlights are shared below.

Environmental, Water/Wastewater

Of interest to some engineers is the progress on H576: Allow Aerosolization of Leachate, also known as the "garbage juice bill". It would require DEQ "to approve aerosolization of leachate and wastewater from a lined sanitary landfill for the disposal of municipal solid waste landfill...(2) allow the Department to approve aerosolization of leachate from unlined landfills; and (3) provide that aerosolization of leachate or wastewater that results in a zero-liquid discharge and is not a significant air contamination source does not constitute a source that requires certain permits."

The bill passed the legislature in June and was vetoed by Governor Cooper ten days later. It is expected to come up for a veto override vote this week, although it may continue to be pushed back.

Lawmakers also continue working on environmental regulatory reform issues that were not resolved during the regular session but whether more reforms are expected during a special session or not until the 2018 short session are still to be determined.

Regulatory Reform

During the August special sessions, S16: Business Regulatory Reform Act of 2017 passed which includes some of the following:

  • Require agencies and the Office of Administrative Hearings to provide additional notice of petitions for rule making
  • Provide for heightened Environmental Management Commission oversight of certain reports
  • Eliminate duplicative and unnecessary electrical equipment and appliance certification requirements
  • Authorize private condemnation of land for pipelines and mains originating outside of NC
  • Clarify stormwater laws
  • Amend the threshold for coastal stormwater requirements for residential projects
  • Study erosion and sedimentation control programs
  • Wastewater system permit extension

The August special session continues so stay tuned for more updates.

Redistricting Additional Information

Incumbents Double-Bunked

(meaning there are now two sitting lawmakers who used to represent different districts but whose home addresses are now in the same district, thus being "double-bunked")

  •  Representatives John Faircloth (R) and Jon Hardister (R) in Greensboro
  •  Representatives Carl Ford (R) and Larry Pittman (R) in Cabarrus & Rowan counties
  •  Representative Susan Martin (R) and Representative Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D) in Wilson County
  •  Representative John Sauls (R) and Representative Robert Reives (D) in Lee County
  •  Senators John Alexander (R) and Chad Barefoot (R) in northern Wake County and Franklin County. Barefoot announced that he will not seek re-election.
  •  Deanna Ballard (R) and Shirley Randleman (R) in a district that covers Wilkes, Watauga, Ashe, and Alleghany counties, part of Surry County
  •  Joyce Krawiec (R) and Dan Barrett (R) in Forsyth and Davie counties
  •  Bill Cook (R) and Erica Smith-Ingram (D) in a district that covers Vance, Warren, Northampton, Bertie, Martin, and Beaufort counties.

Open Seats

No sitting lawmaker in the district

  • House District 59 in Greensboro
  • House District 8 in Pitt County
  • House District 54 in Chatham County
  • House District 79 in Beaufort and northern Craven counties
  • Senate District 16 in western Wake County
  • Senate District 33 in Rowan and Stanly counties
  • Senate District 34 in Yadkin and Iredell counties
  • Senate District 1 that covers Dare, Hyde, Tyrell, Washington, Currituck, Camden, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Chowan, Gates, and Hertford counties
    • Representative Bob Steinburg (R) has announced he is considering running for this seat, which would then leave an open seat in his current House district
  • You can read more about the redistricting process in this WRAL article.


 End of Session Summary 7-20-17 (10/3/2017) 
   

The busy and eventful 2017 legislative session came to an end just after 2am on Friday, June 30th after five and a half months, making it the second shortest long session since 1973, according to a Senate press release. The legislature operates in biennium sessions with a long session in the first (or odd numbered year) and a short session in the second year (occurring in the even numbered year). This session, more bills were considered and passed in the final three weeks of session than were in the first five months.

With the GOP majority in both the House and Senate, Republicans easily passed their negotiated budget two weeks ahead of schedule, in a process much smoother than in years passed. It fulfilled promises of fiscal responsibility, teacher pay increases, and Hurricane Matthew relief funding. Alternatively, Governor Cooper (D) vetoed the budget after calling it short-sighted on education spending and for providing tax cuts for the wealthy. Republicans quickly overrode the veto with two days to spare before the current year budget expired.

Despite the expected partisan talk and action, many popular bipartisan bills were passed, including the brunch bill, which would allow alcohol sales before noon on Sundays. Additionally, several significant stakeholder negotiations yielded significant bills. H589: Competitive Energy Solutions for NC was one such bill. After nine months of negotiations, stakeholders produced a compromise bill that passed the House 108-11. Unfortunately, once in the Senate and despite requests from all stakeholders to maintain the bill as negotiated, changes were made to incorporate an 18 month moratorium on wind project permit issuance. H589 ended up being the final bill considered and was passed just before adjournment, but not without it’s share of controversy.

Sunday alcohol sales, eye surgery, campus free speech, gun laws and impeachment proceedings for the Secretary of State were among the most controversial topics that characterized the final weeks of session.

The House and Senate combined debated over 100 bills on Wednesday, June 28 as they prepared to bring the session to a close. The active agenda continued on throughout the day on Thursday, June 29 and stretched late into the night. Finally, the morning of Friday, June 30 brought the session to a close, despite lingering debate and tensions surrounding a variety of issues. Many of the issues will be taken up again when the General Assembly reconvenes for special sessions in August and September.

Special Sessions Coming

In a typical year, when the legislature adjourns after the long session, lawmakers will not return until the short session begins the following spring, except for interim committee work. This year, the legislature will return for two scheduled special sessions, the first session to begin August 3, and the second set for September 6. House Rules Chairman David Lewis (R-Harnett) predicts the September session will likely focus solely on redistricting, although anything could be brought up for debate in either session. The adjournment resolution included a final deadline of November 15th for court-ordered legislative redistricting to be completed. It is possible, according to Lewis, that redistricting will happen much earlier, given the judicially imposed deadlines and the establishment of the Redistricting Committees. Bills in conference committee that are eligible for special session consideration can be seen here.

There are still a number of issues that remain on the table, including the bill that would expand the scope of practice for interior designers, many environmental regulatory reform proposals, and capital infrastructure considerations that could be considered during the special sessions but will also be on the table for discussion in the 2018 short session. PENC Action Groups are convening to consider these proposals and PENC’s positions, so please consider participating to help inform the legislative agenda for PENC and to help represent the engineering profession at the North Carolina General Assembly.

Next week we’ll provide a more detailed list of bills considered in 2017. Please see below for how to get involved in PENC Action Groups.

PENC Action Groups:
Resource Stewardship | Contact: Bob Via
Regulatory Reform | Contact: Kendra Parrish
Buildings Infrastructure and Sustainability | Contact: Sean Gleason
Transportation Infrastructure & Sustainability | Contact: David Charters
Water/Wastewater Infrastructure & Sustainability | Contact: Monroe Huckaby