MountainTrue Raleigh Report
The MountainTrue Raleigh Report covers environmental politics and policy, with a focus on the issues that affect Western North Carolina.
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MountainTrue’s 2016/17 Policy Agenda
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Legislators were in Raleigh for a day last week to open the 2019 session of the North Carolina General Assembly. Surrounded by their families, lawmakers took their oaths of office, elected their officers – and then promptly recessed. They will reconvene Jan. 30 and meet weekly until they complete their work some time later this year.read more
While the dust is still settling from last week’s election – with several state legislative races still too close to call – it’s clear that Republicans have lost their veto-proof majorities in either one or both chambers of the legislature. Here are some thoughts about what this all means for state policy and WNC’s legislative delegation.read more
The legislature’s action on disaster recovery funding for Hurricane Florence came swiftly in a bipartisan vote that legislative leaders hailed as historically fast and generous. That it was done quickly is beyond debate. Whether the legislation is sufficient to address disaster victims’ immediate needs, or the long-term challenges storms like Hurricanes Florence and Michael pose to the state, is another matter.read more
The latest on the proposed constitutional amendments, $3 million for landslide hazard mapping in WNC and funding for a whirling disease study from the NC General Assembly.read more
Despite overwhelming grassroots opposition to this bill, the legislature voted to override Cooper’s veto of SB711. Below is a list of WNC legislators and how they voted on the override. We encourage you to take a moment to see how your lawmaker voted on this critical issue. And a big thanks to all of you who helped us mobilize support against this bill – we hope you will continue to join us in speaking up for WNC’s environment and the health of the people who live here.read more
On the veto override front, the two biggest environmental bills of the session – the 2018 Farm Act and the legislature’s annual regulatory “reform” bill – are now on the Governor’s desk. A veto of the Farm Act is widely expected. There are 74 Republicans in the House and 35 in the Senate, so a strict vote along party lines would override the vetoes. However, collecting the needed votes for an override is a very different game in each chamber. Expect the Senate majority to easily and quickly override any veto of these bills. In the House, however, the vote is likely to be much closer, with many environmental groups (including MountainTrue) and other opponents of the bill working hard to find the votes to sustain a veto.read more
Last week, in a blur of committee meetings and debates on the Senate and House floor, the legislature completed its most important task of the 2018 General Assembly session – approval of the $24 billion state budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
As is often the case in the sausage-making of the General Assembly, one has to consider what the General Assembly included (or didn’t) in the budget as well how it went about its work. It’s also important to step back from the details of the budget and consider it in a broader context.
In this report, we’ll try to do a little of all three.read more
May 16 marked the first day of the 2018 legislative session, and it took less than one day for lawmakers to begin making headlines about what is likely to be the biggest environmental issue of the session – the General Assembly’s response to the 2016 discovery of GenX, an “emerging contaminant” in the water supply of tens of thousand of people in the Cape Fear region and perhaps thousands more across the state.read more
As the May 16 opening of the 2016 legislature’s short session approaches, the pace at the General Assembly is quickly accelerating. Senate and House budget writers have been meeting in hopes of approving a budget on a very expedited schedule once the legislature officially returns. If they stay on schedule, most of their work may be complete before Gov. Cooper releases his budget proposal – now scheduled for May 10.read more
Michael Regan, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, hosted a meeting of the state’s environmental organizations last week to review the department’s first year and look forward to the year ahead, including the 2018 legislative session. Regan, who was flanked by his entire management team, listed key hirings in several agencies, as well as responding to the unexpected discovery of the GenX pollutant in the Cape Fear River, as key milestones in his first year under Gov. Roy Cooper.read more