NC Updates provided by Connie Wilson & Lexi Arthur, CRMCA NC Lobbyists
On August 2nd , a North Carolina administrative law judge ruled that NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had the proper legal authority to order Duke Energy to excavate each of its coal ash pits across North Carolina. According to DEQ, Judge Malherbe’s decision to grant the Department’s partial motion to dismiss will limit the scope of Duke’s appeal of the state’s lawsuit against the company as it moves forward. This ruling follows Duke Energy’s April appeal to DEQ’s order for the company to excavate all remaining coal ash impoundments in North Carolina and move the sludge to lined pits in other locations – Duke Energy wants to cap some of the pits in place. In a statement, Duke Energy said they’ll proceed with the appeal.
While the clock is ticking toward the end of session – or at least an adjournment of some sort – bills have continued to move through committees. Of particular interest is SB 86: Small Business Health Care Act. This bill would help smaller businesses, sole proprietors, and their families have access to lower cost health care options by letting small businesses band together to form what’s known as an Association Health Plan. As this Carolina Journal article explains, these plans would allow small businesses to “get into the large group market using the umbrella of an association, where they could bargain with insurance companies as a collective rather than as individuals.” After numerous transformations among a large stakeholder group, the negotiated bill officially passed both chambers and was sent to Governor Cooper to be signed. Some stakeholders would like to see other changes made to the bill, so we could see other legislation surface as an attempt to modify this legislation. In addition, rumors have been lingering that Gov. Cooper may veto any health care bill he receives that does not include full Medicaid Expansion, so many eyes will be watching his decision on whether or not to allow this bill to become law.
Following his veto of the NCGA’s budget, Governor Cooper ramped up efforts last month to urge people across the state to help him sustain his veto – specifically, in areas represented by certain lawmakers. As explained by The Fayetteville Observer, “Democrats worry some Democratic lawmakers will be tempted by the money targeted for their districts…[to] vote to override Cooper’s budget veto.” Despite Cooper’s foreboding comments, the world will keep turning if there is no budget compromise this year. If the NCGA is unable to override the Governor’s veto, we’ll likely see separate budget bills surface to address different issues that were included in the NCGA’s budget. In fact, HB 961 Ensuring Authorization of Federal Funds was signed by the Governor on August 1 st , which only ensures the continuation of federal money. Pressure still remains between the Governor and the NCGA as their ‘budget standoff’ continues. Thus, the legislature could technically remain in session for several more months.
SC Updates provided by Ben Homeyer, CRMCA SC Lobbyist
The South Carolina General Assembly is currently in recess until January. The members are however meeting in committees in preparation for the 2020 session. On August 7th at Concrete Materials Placement in North Charleston members met with Representative Marvin Pendarvis to discuss issues effecting the industry. Mr. Pendarvis who is the primary author of the Complete Streets bill which would expand the use of concrete with sidewalks, bicycle lanes and expanded width for roads spoke on many subjects. The main topic dealt with expanding the workforce in South Carolina. Mr. Pendarvis asked for more information about needed jobs as well as how to identify the folks earlier. We will also be supplying him with data on a two pavement system and how that better helps everyone in the state.
In addition, since session ended I-526 has been approved. The project cost estimates are anywhere from $700 million to $1 billion. The SCDOT is constantly updating the list of road and bridge projects. A link to the latest list is included. https://www.scdot.org/inside/pdf/trustfund/IMTF-Project-List-June-2019.pdf
In Aiken County District 84 a new representative will be installed once session begins. Melissa Oremus (R) defeated Alvin Padgett (R) in the Republican Primary Runoff Election for HD 84 according to unofficial results. Melissa Oremus will be unopposed in the Special General Election on October 1st, 2019.
2020 sees everyone in the General Assembly up for re-election.