NCGA Week in Review

September 29, 2017

Pardon Our Dust

We recently launched this new site and are still in the process of updating some of our archived content. Some details of this article may be incomplete, links may be broken, and other elements may not display properly yet. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

As legislators prepare to return to Raleigh next week, three House selectcommittees met this week to discuss issues that may come up when theGeneral Assembly returns to Raleigh next Wednesday, October 4 for another“special session.”

Administrative Procedure Oversight Discusses Vetoed Bill

On Thursday, the House Select Committee on Administrative Procedure Lawsmet to discuss a conference report toHB 162: Amend Administrative Procedure Laws, which was introduced when legislators metin August. The conference report was adopted by the Senate, but has not been adoptedby the House. If passed, HB 162 would disallow any new regulations thatwould cost at least $100 million over five years, and would require anyrules with a projected $10 million aggregate financial impact during anyfive-year period to be reviewed by the General Assembly.

During yesterday’s committee meeting, members heard an overview of thelegislation, and received a presentation on agency implementation of HB162, should it become law, from the Office of State Budget and Management(OSBM). Assistant State Budget Director Anca GrozavpresentedOSBM’s concerns with the legislation, which includes health and safetyrisks if agencies lose certain rules and conflicting directives between HB162, statutory mandates and federal requirements.

HB 162 was referred to the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations ofthe House on August 3. The committee did not indicate whether or not HB 162will be taken up during next week’s special session.

Judicial Redistricting Moves Forward

The House Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting met on Wednesday toconsider a proposed committee substitute toHB 717: Revise Judicial Districts, to consider amendments, and to hear public comment.

Twelve amendments were considered by the committee, four were adopted andeight failed. The adopted changes modify judicial district lines andreelection schedules. Several of the failed amendments proposed alternatemethods of reforming the state’s court system, while others would have madechanges in districts that favor Democratic candidates.

Organizations such as the League of Women Voters of NC and Together We WillNC, as well several individuals spokeagainstthe legislation. Their remarks included opposition to partisanredistricting, concerns that changes to districts and an increase inrotational divisions will cut resources to the courts, and urged thecommittee to take their time with the legislation. Chairman Justin Burr(R-Stanly) and other members of the committee argue that revisions to themaps are necessary to givemore powerto rural voters and to reform the state’s judicial branch, which has notseen major revisions since the 1960s.

The bill passed along party lines and is expected to be taken up by theHouse during next week’s session. The NC Courts Commission, which iscomposed of judges and members of the legislature, is discussing thelegislation today, and hearing from parties such as the AdministrativeOffice of the Courts, Rep. Burr, and judges from across the state.

River Quality Committee Discusses GenX

Yesterday, the House Select Committee on NC River Quality held theirinaugural meeting to discuss the discharge of GenX, an unregulated chemicalcompound, into the Cape Fear River. GenX is a byproduct of the chemicalsmanufactured at the Chemours Fayetteville Works site, which is about 100miles upstream from Wilmington. During the all-day meeting, legislatorsheard informational presentations on the compound and other issuespertaining to water contamination.

Representatives from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and theDepartment of Health and Human Services (DHHS), two state agencies thathave been involved in understanding the chemical compound’s presence in theriver, groundwater and drinking water provided informational presentationsto the committee. Sheila Holman, DEQ Assistant Secretary for Environmentpresentedan overview of state and federal water regulations, data from recent testsof the river, and an update on testing of 14 wells on Chemours’ property.In lab tests, GenX was found in levels exceeding health guidelines recentlyadopted by the state. Because of these results, the state has begun testingprivate wells and examining how variations, such as well depth, may impactGenX levels. DEQ and DHHS have adopted a health guideline of 140 parts pertrillion (ppt), an unofficial and unenforceable standard, however, aEuropean studyreported a Derived No Effect Level equivalent to 70,909,000 ppt,differences in these standards raisedquestionsfrom some committee members.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore followed with apresentationabout the known health impacts of GenX and related compounds,Per-Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS). Some studies have demonstratedthat there is apossibilitythat PFAS may have negative health impacts to humans, including effect ongrowth, learning, behavior, interference with the body’s natural hormones,and increased risk of cancer. Lab studies have been conducted on the healtheffects on animals, resulting in possible cancers and other effects to theliver and blood, however, there are no known human health impacts.

The committee also heard action plans on the implementation ofHB 56: Amend Environmental Laws, should Gov. Cooper’svetobe overridden, from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority andUNC-Wilmington; both entities were appropriated funds in HB 56 to respondto the discharge. The Authority expects more than $1 million in short termcosts, including for ongoing GenX monitoring and water treatmentevaluations, according to apresentationfrom Chief Operation Officer Frank Styers. Assistant to the Chancellor ofUNC-Wilmington Mark Lanier presented the school’sresearch plans, which include conducting studies on bioaccumulation and biodegradation ofGenX. Legislators are likely to take up HB 56 next week.

All committee documents considered at Thursday’s meeting can be found byfollowing thislink. The committee plans to hold their next meeting on October 6.

What to Expect Next Week

Legislators return to Raleigh next Wednesday, the third time they havereconvened since adjourning in June. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland)and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) sent emails totheir respective chambers outlining what to expect during next week’ssession, which they expect to last three days. Speaker Moore noted possibletopics on the House’s agenda: