North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

January 26, 2024

This week, members of the North Carolina General Assembly ramped up their interim committee meeting schedule, holding hearings of the House Select Committee on Education Reform, the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Hurricane Response and Recovery, and the House Select Committee on Homeowners’ Associations. Legislators will continue to schedule and hold meetings of interim committees over the course of the next several weeks, and months, prior to the start of the short session on April 24.

Flood Mitigation

On Tuesday, the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Hurricane Response and Recovery, met to hear testimony about ongoing efforts to mitigate flooding from major weather events. Legislators invited North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Secretary Elizabeth Biser, along with Dave Canaan and John Dorman, two representatives from the global infrastructure consulting firm AECOM, to discuss the development of the North Carolina Flood Resiliency Blueprint. The blueprint initiative seeks to compile research and data about flooding incidences to help guide local and government entities with crafting mitigation efforts.

During an opening statement, Secretary Biser stated, “To make sure we know what the projects with the best return on investment are, we are developing a standardized methodology to analyze flood risk and prioritize flood mitigation strategies across the state. We are ensuring that decision makers at all levels will be able to identify and select which strategies are most impactful where they are.”

The 2021 budget, SL 2021-180, allocated $20 million for the blueprint project along with a list of directed priorities. Secretary Biser said DEQ has spent $1.9 million developing the draft blueprint and working on the Neuse basin plan and have committed to spend $4 million building the planning tool that will be available online.

Lawmakers also designated $96 million for building projects outlined in the river basin planning reports in the 2021 budget bill. Secretary Biser informed legislators that DEQ would oversee the allocation of these funds and emphasized that the plan does not compel local governments to finance specific projects. Moreover, Secretary Biser encouraged legislators to contemplate further funding to finish the construction projects already pinpointed.

Several legislators expressed interest in testing the tool and wanted to know if users, including potentially even members of the committee, could beta test the program. Todd Kennedy, the program supervisor for the blueprint project, confirmed it would be available for beta testing to around 100 users in mid-April.

Senator Brent Jackson (R-Sampson), one of the subcommittee’s co-chairs, expressed an eagerness to see the project launch this year. “We want to make sure we spend this money wisely,” Sen. Jackson said. “But by the same token, we’ve got to get it moving so we can get something done.”

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Monday, January 29

1:00 PM House: Select Committee on Education Reform

Tuesday, January 30

9:00 AM House: Select Committee on Oversight and Reform
1:00 PM: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government

Thursday, February 1

1:00 PM: Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight Committee