Sunday, June 28, 2009

Transit bill in Senate Finance Tuesday

HB 148, the bill that will allow certain counties, including those in the Triangle and the Triad regions, to raise sales tax to provide for rail and enhanced bus transportation, will be considered by the Senate Finance committee on Tuesday, 6/30, at 1pm in room 544.

We can expect action on the floor of the Senate later in the week.

The real challenge, after the bill basses the General Assembly and is approved by the governor, will be to get a referendum passed in the counties to implement the new power. More than that, if we are to reduce fossil fuel consumption, reduce greenhouse gasses, and reduce traffic congestion, will be to get people to use the transit systems.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Beach Bag Ban Bill now law

The bill to outlaw most plastic and non-recycled paper bags from three outer banks counties passed both houses of the General Assembly, was approved by the governor, and is now law (SL2009-163).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jordan Lake Rules Pass General Assembly

A bill, HB 239, to enact rules for the Jordan Lake reservoir, was approved by the General Assembly Monday night and will go to the governor for her expected approval.

The Environmental Management Commission, with approval by the Rules Review Commission, adopted rules to protect Jordan Lake from nutrient pollution that cause the growth of algae that can produce toxins. Bills were introduced in the General Assembly to disapprove the rules. One bill, HB 239, was turned into a bill that approved most of the new rules relating to new development near the lake and tributaries to the lake. The bill replaced regulations concerning existing development with compromise language.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fuel economy of state cars

The Senate, on Tuesday, 6/16/09, unanimously passed HB1079, Energy-efficient state motor vehicle fleet. This bill will require the Department of Administration to give preference to new passenger vehicles that have a fuel economy that is in the top 15 percent of that class of vehicles. Police and other emergency vehicles are exempt.

The bill had already been passed by the House. Because of a technical amendment to the bill in the Senate, the bill will be sent to the House for concurrence before being sent to the Governor for her approval.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

In the General Assembly

Some more recent action in the General Assembly:

SB 1018, which will ban plastic and non-recycled paper bags in three Outer Banks counties, was approved by the House Environment Committee on Tuesday, June 9. The bill, which has been passed by the Senate, is now in the House Commerce Committee.

HB 1079, to improve the energy efficiency of the state owned motor vehicle fleet, was reported favorably by the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday, June 11, and now goes to the full Senate for votes.

SB 586, File Lis Pendens for Certain Erosion Actions, will requre the filing of notice of pending litigation relating to erosion controls. This will allow purchasers of property to know about litigation involving the property and aid enforcement of erosion regulations. The bill was given a favorable report by the House Environment Committee on Tuesday, June 9, and now is in the House Judiciary I committee.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A bad bill delayed

HB 1583, DOT Vegetation Removal Changes, was expected to be considered by the House Transportation committee on Wednesday, June 3. However, due to lack of time the bill was postponed until a future meeting of the committee. The NC Chapter of the Sierra Club is fighting this bill. It would expand the amount of vegetation (trees and shrubs) that can be removed from highway right-of-ways to make billboards and business more visible to cars. This is a bad bill and any delay is welcome.

Monday, June 1, 2009

News coverage of Falls Lake delay

The Raleigh NC News and Observer has published a couple of stories and an editorial about the delay in the Falls Lake rules:

Rules on Falls Lake stagnate May 25, 2009

Officials turn attention to Falls Lake cleanup May 27, 2009 (Durham edition)

Faster on Falls June 1, 2009 (editorial)

Falls Lake Rules Delay

The Environmental Management Commission (EMC) was required to write nutrient management rules for Falls Lake by an act (section 3 of Session Law 2005-190) of the General Assembly that was signed into law on July , 2005. That act required that the rules be implemented by July 1, 2008. In August, 2006 an act, SB 1523, SL 2006-259 of the General Assembly extended the deadline by one year. So under current law the rules must be developed by July 1, 2009. That is only one month from the date of this post.

The EMC adopts rules written by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

DENR has now asked the General Assembly for another extension. Early this past April, HB 1099, then in the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, was amended to extend the deadline by 2 years 5 months, until November 30, 2011. The extension was then changed to one year, with a requirement that the rules be developed by July 1, 2010. HB 1099 has passed the House with the one year extension; it is expected that attempts will be made in the Senate to increase the extension.

Falls Lake is already impaired and is getting worse. The rules should have been adopted long ago; any extension will allow the lake to become even more polluted. The rules will not go into effect on the date set by the General Assembly. That date is for the EMC to adopt rules. After the EMC adopts the rules they are then reviewed by the Rules Review Commission, a several month process. After the RRC reviews and approves the rules, they are reviewed and perhaps modified by the General Assembly. If the July 1, 2010 date is kept, the rules will be presented to the General Assembly in January of 2011 and will likely not get fully adopted until the summer of 2011