MountainTrue Raleigh Report
The MountainTrue Raleigh Report covers environmental politics and policy, with a focus on the issues that affect Western North Carolina. See our 2019 legislative agenda here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In a happy turn of events, we have some good news to share from Raleigh. It actually happened last summer, when the General Assembly created a new position at the N.C. Department of Commerce to promote North Carolina’s outdoor recreation economy and bring new outdoor...
Over the last month, the North Carolina General Assembly has met twice in “special session” to consider legislation to address one of the most high-profile threats to our state’s water quality – and public health – in recent years. Of course, we’re referring to the discovery of GenX, an “emerging contaminant” in the Cape Fear River as well as other public drinking water supplies in North Carolina.
Controversy over the presence of GenX, an emerging contaminant, in North Carolina’s drinking water has focused on the Cape Fear area, but the issue raises serious questions about the safety of drinking water across the state. This special edition of our Raleigh Report explains what’s been found in NC’s drinking water and how we hope to make it safer.
Lawmakers gathered last week for a one-day special session scheduled when they adjourned their regular 2017 session in July. Originally, last week’s session was focused on complying with court orders to revise many of their voting districts. But days before the session, the court overseeing the redistricting case ordered a different calendar for revising the maps.
The Senate and House reconvene Thursday for a special session they scheduled before adjourning last month. While lawmakers have the flexibility to do just about anything they choose during this week’s session, they are widely expected to limit their work to a handful of unfinished bills left over from the regular session.