The House and Senate took the week of April 8 as a spring break.
NCDOT Work Session Meeting
During the work session meeting, NCDOT CFO, Stephanie King, gave an overview of the Governor’s budget proposal. Her presentation highlighted the funding and appropriations levels. Of note, the maintenance funding increases by $66.4M in fiscal year 22 and increase of $33.6M in fiscal year 23. Ms. King also noted two special provisions. The Governor has recommended the allowance of NC Bond issuances even if the cash balance is above $1 billion. He also recommends moving the Emergency Reserve Fund to the Highway Fund.
Bills and Legislation
SB 572 Coal Ash/Structural Fill Modifications – Introduced this week , the bill changes the laws governing the use of coal combustion products in structural fill. The bill, among other things, increases the amount of coal combustion products deemed permitted from 8,000 tons to 12,400 tons, changes the threshold for required permitting to 12,400 tons and makes other conforming changes. Further, it requires projects to have an encapsulation liner system as is currently required. Finally, it establishes requirements for projects using coal combustion products for structural fill in open pit mines.
Numbers as of April 15:
941,218 total cases
1,020 currently hospitalized
5.1% percentage of positive tests each day
32.5% of adult population fully vaccinated
As of April 7 anyone 16 years or older is eligible to receive the vaccine.
Other Important Items
NCDOT Staffing Changes
NCDOT Division 5 Engineer Joey Hopkins is in a new position that will oversee some of the planning and programming groups within the Department, Director of Operations Patrick Norman is moving to be the Division 8 Engineer. Kristin Barnes, who was previously the Deputy Engineer in Division 4, will be the new Director of Operations.
NCDOT Projects – List provided at the April 8th Board Meeting.
Coal Ash Fees
Colin Campbell of The Insider reported on April 9 that the NC Department of Environmental Quality wants to increase the fees paid by owners of coal ash ponds. The Governor’s budget reported this change would provide an additional $680,000 per year and would be used to fund additional staff, including an engineer and hydrogeologist. The increase is from .022% to .03% of the owners’ company revenue derived in NC.
This Carolina Public Press article highlights the infrastructure study commissioned by former Secretary of Transportation Jim Trogdon which gives the state’s infrastructure a mediocre rate. It further finds that it would take at least $20 billion over the next 10-years to get to a good rating. The article provides more information and the full report can be found here.