Front Porch Blog

Governor Easley’s Budget

The North Carolina General Assembly reconvened Tuesday for the 2006 session. One of the things to be discussed is the Governor’s budget.

According to NC Conservation Network, the following are environmental highlights of the propsed budget.

Clean Water Management Trust Fund: $100,000,000.
Private drinking water wells enforcement: $2.4 million.
Sediment and erosion control inspections: $467,000.
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program expansion: $500,000.
Orphan hazardous waste site cleanup: $500,000.
Federal match for Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: $6.1 million.
Basinwide Information Management System: $260,000.
Coastal Habitat protection compliance positions: $277,000.
Best Management Practices assistance for soil and water conservation: $334,000.
Agricultural BMPS: $400,000.
Reforestation programs on private lands: $564,000.
Coastal recreational fishing license implementation: $375,000.

Capital projects in the Governor’s budget:

Water resources development projects: $106 million.
Chimney Rock State Park expansion: $15 million.
Container cranes at the Port of Wilmington: $7.5 million.
Educational exhibits at the NC Zoo: $1.5 million.
Museum of Natural Sciences annex: $10 million.
New DENR building on Blue Ridge Road: $50 million. (Staff explained that to build new DENR offices in the downtown “Green Square” project approved by the legislature last year turned out to be prohibitively expensive, though the museum expansion and credit union portions of that project will go forward.)

Bills they highlight include th following…

4. Summary of new bills.

H1805, NC Paddle Trails Association Funds, Bill Owens (Pasquotank-D); co: Larry Bell, Alice Bordsen, Joe Hackney, Marvin Lucas. Appropriates $60,000 to DENR to establish an executive director for the NC Paddle Trails Association. House Appropriations.

H1809, Clean Water Bonds Act of 2006, Bill Owens (Pasquotank-D), Pryor Gibson (Anson-D), Deborah Ross (Wake-D), Bill Daughtridge (Nash-R); co: L. Allen, Bell, Bordsen, Carney, Cleveland, Culp, England, Glazier, Goodwin, Hackney, Harrison, Insko, Langdon, Lewis, Lucas, Luebke, Parmon, Pate, Rapp, Spear, Tucker, Underhill, Warren, Weiss, Williams, Wray. Authorize the issuance of $1 billion in general obligation bonds over 4 years, subject to a ballot referendum, to be used for wastewater projects and public water system projects. House Finance.

H1825, DOT Secondary Road Formula Change, Nelson Cole (Rockingham-D); co: Culp. Amends the allocation formula for secondary road construction to include paved roads. House Transportation.

H1827, DOT General Contractor License Exceptions, Nelson Cole (Rockingham-D). Exempts some DOT contractors performing routine maintenance and minor repair from needing a contractor’s license. House Transportation.

H1828, Repeal Toll Bridge Authority, Nelson Cole (Rockingham-D); co: Earl Jones. Based on a recommendation by the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee, this bill would repeal the NC Bridge Authority and authorization for the DOT to issue a license for a private toll project (the mid-Curritick toll bridge, we believe). House Rules.

H1834, DOT Performance-Based Maintenance Contract Bonds, Nelson Cole (Rockingham-D). Lessens the bonding requirements for DOT routine maintenance contracts. House Transportation.

H1842, Ensure Integrity of Highway Trust Fund, Tim Moore (Cleveland-R), Debbie Clary (Cleveland-R), Stephen LaRoque (Lenoir-R), Bill Daughtridge (Nash-R); co: Almond; Barnhart; Blackwood; Brown; Capps; Cleveland; Current; Folwell; Frye; Gillespie; Glazier; Grady; Gulley; Hilton; Hollo; Holloway; Justus; Lewis; McComas; McGee; Pate; Preston; Rapp; Rayfield; Setzer; Starnes; Stiller; Vinson; Walend; Walker; Wiley; Wilson. Similar to S1220, this bill requires repayment of funds transferred from the Highway Trust Fund since 1989. It also includes a cap on the variable component of the gas tax at $.091 per gallon. House Finance.

H1854, Eminent Domain, Mitch Gillespie (McDowell-R); co: Allred; Barnhart, Brown, Cleveland, Culp, Current, Dollar, Faison, Frye, Grady, Harrell, Hilton, Hollo, Holloway, Johnson, Langdon, LaRoque, Lewis, McGee, Pate, Preston, Rayfield, Setzer, Spear, Stam, Starnes, Steen, Vinson, Walend, Walker, Wiley, Wilson Paces an amendment on the ballot to prohibit condemnation “for economic development purposes, including increasing the tax base or increasing the rate or quality of employment in a community.” Twin to S1229. House Rules.

H1855, Opposition to Eminent Domain Decision, Mitch Gillespie (McDowell-R); co: Allred; Barnhart, Brown, Cleveland, Culp, Current, Faison, Frye, Grady, Harrell, Hilton, Hollo, Holloway, Langdon, LaRoque, Lewis, McGee, Pate, Preston, Rayfield, Setzer, Spear, Stam, Starnes, Steen, Stiller, Walker, Wiley, Wilson. A resolution disagreeing with the recent opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. New London case. House Rules.

S1185, Navassa Zoning Jurisdiction, RC Soles (Columbus-D). To divest planning jurisdiction over certain property from the town of Navassa and vest it in the County of Brunswick. Senate State and Local Government. Senate Finance. This bill is related to the issue of an auto fluff recycling landfill proposed for Brunswick County.

S1203, Agrarian Growth Zones – Bill Lee Act, Charlie Albertson (Duplin-D); co: Julia Boseman, Janet Cowell, Katie G. Dorsett, Linda Garrou, Fletcher L. Hartsell, David W. Hoyle, Jim Jacumin, Clark Jenkins, John H. Kerr, Jeanne Lucas, Vernon Malone, William Purcell, John Snow, R. C. Soles, A. B Swindell. Establishes a new economic development category called “agrarian growth zones” in counties that meet population and poverty criteria. Senate Finance.

S1215, Marine Technology Research Vessel Funds, Julia Boseman (New Hanover-D). Appropriates $6 million to replace the R/V Dan Moore, a 30 meter fisheries research vessel. Senate Appropriations.

S1217, Kure Beach/Bldg. Height Limit, Julia Boseman (New Hanover-D). Establishes a maximum height of 35 feet for buildings within the town of Kure Beach, though provides for exceptions subject to approval by referendum. Senate State and Local Government.

S1220, Repayment of Highway Trust Fund Monies, Richard Stevens (Wake-R); co: Tom Apodaca, Phil Berger, Stan Bingham, Harris Blake, Andrew Brock. Harry Brown, Don East, John Garwood, Eddie Goodall, Neal Hunt, Jim Jacumin, William Miller, Robert Pittenger, Keith Presnell, Fred Smith, Jerry Tillman, Hugh Webster. Prohibits transfers out of the Highway Trust Fund in excess of those authorized by statute and requires repayment of all funds raided previously within 5 years. Senate Appropriations.

S1222, Restrict Eminent Domain, Robert Pittenger (Mecklenburg-R); co: Tom Apodaca, Philip Berger, Stan Bingham, Harris Blake, Andrew Brock, Harry Brown, Don East, James Forrester, John Garwood, Eddie Goodall, Neal Hunt, Jim Jacumin, William Miller, Keith Presnell, Jerry Tillman. Places an amendment to the State Constitution on the November ballot which would prohibit condemnation of property by local or state government for use by a private entity “for economic development or to increase tax revenues.” Senate Rules.

S1229, Eminent Domain, Jim Forrester (Gaston-R); co: Austin Allran, Tom Apodaca, Stan Bingham, Harris Blake, Andrew C. Brock, Harry Brown, Don East, John Garwood, Eddie Goodall, Neal Hunt, Jim Jacumin, William Miller, Robert Pittenger, Keith Presnell, Fred Smith, Richard Stevens, Jerry Tillman. This bill does essentially the same thing as S1222 – places an amendment on the ballot to prohibit condemnation “for economic development purposes, including increasing the tax base or increasing the rate or quality of employment in a community.” Twin to H1854. Senate Rules.

5. Bills still alive from the 2005 long session.

While this is not a comprehensive list, several bills from the 2005 long session that were priorities for some organizations are still eligible for consideration this session.

H1369, Expand Renewable Energy Tax Credit, Rep. Doug Vinson (Mecklenburg-R), in House Finance. Provides a corporate income tax credit for constructing renewable energy equipment facilities for “distributed generation”, defined as fuel cells or microturbines.

H1460, Low Emission Vehicles/Funds, Rep. Martha Alexander (Mecklenburg-D), Rep. Becky Carney (Mecklenburg-D), Rep. Joe Hackney (Orange-D), Rep. Pricey Harrison (Guilford-D), in House Environment; S1006, Sen. Dan Clodfelter (Mecklenburg-D), in Senate Agriculture, Environment. Adopts lower emission standards for new cars and light trucks sold in North Carolina.

H1502, Schoolchildren’s Health Act, Rep. Grier Martin (Wake-D), in Senate Education. Protects children from toxics at school by addressing arsenic-treated wood; mercury in classrooms; bus exhaust and idling; pest control and pesticide usage; and mold and mildew prevention.

H1512, Coastal Hazards Notification, Rep. Pricey Harrison (Guilford-D), in House Rules. Requires property owners in ocean hazard areas to make buyers aware of coastal hazards.

H1523, Implement Coastal Habitat Protection Plan, Rep. Pricey Harrison (Guilford-D), in Senate Agriculture, Environment. Modifies fees in-lieu of riparian buffer mitigation and shortens the time for getting cover on disturbed soil (to prevent erosion) from 30 to 21 calendar days

H1531, Mercury Reduction and Education, Rep. Pricey Harrison (Guilford-D), Rep. Alice Bordsen (Alamance-D), Rep. Grier Martin (Wake-D), Rep. Susan Fisher (Buncombe-D), in House Environment. Restricts sale of mercury-containing novelty items, thermometers, thermostats, and switches in cars; requires fluorescent light labeling, provides a State purchasing preference for mercury-free alternatives, and prohibits use of mercury in classrooms. The bill also appropriates implementing funds.

H1701, Protect Private Drinking Water Wells, Bernard Allen (Wake-D), in House Health. Requires testing of private wells for certain contaminants prior to sale, lease or rental of property; requires notification of groundwater contamination to private well owners and users; directs DENR to maintain a database of contaminated wells; establishes an emergency drinking water fund; and appropriates $1 million to the fund, as well as $286,000 to DENR to implement the program.

H1730, Clean Hog Farms Act of 2005, Rep. Carolyn Justice (Pender-R), Rep. Daniel McComas (New Hanover-R), Rep. Jeanne Farmer-Butterfield (Wilson-D), in House Environment. Permanently prohibits new hog waste lagoon and sprayfield systems and requires conversion of existing systems by 2010.

S190, Income Tax Credit – Energy Efficient Homes, Sen. Ham Horton (Forsyth-R), in Senate Finance; H445, Rep. Louis Pate (Wayne-R), Rep. Joe Tolson (Edgecombe-D), in House Finance. Provides an income tax credit for builders and purchasers of federally or state certified energy efficient homes. The credit, which applies to newly built or remodeled homes, is $500 for purchasers and between $500 and $2000 for builders.

S384, NC Energy Policy Rewrite, Ham Horton (Forsyth-R), in Senate Commerce. This bill updates the 1975 NC Energy Policy Act to include broader concepts of sustainable and renewable energy, and it directs the State Energy Policy Council to develop a State Energy Plan. The bill also specifies that annual funding for the State Energy Office will come from the Department of Administration’s yearly appropriation, though does not appropriate any funds.

S405, Wildlife Conservation Present-Use Value, Sen. Fletcher Hartsell (Cabarrus-R), in Senate Finance; H1722, Rep. Harold Brubaker (Randolph-R); Rep. Joe Hackney (Orange-D); Rep. Pricey Harrison (Guilford-D); Rep. Pryor Gibson (Anson-D), in House Finance. Present use value tax status allows landowners to receive a property tax break on farm and forestlands that will remain in nondeveloped uses. This bill establishes wildlife land as a special class of property also eligible for the program if it is managed for conservation benefits.

S521, Tax Credit for Certain Real Property Donations, Sen. Dan Clodfelter (Mecklenburg-D), in Senate Finance. This bill would establish a tax credit for donations of property for beach access, public water or trail access, wildlife or other conservation purposes, and allow pass-through entities to receive the credit up to $500,000.

S858, Joint Legislative Growth Strategies, Sen. Dan Clodfelter (Mecklenburg-D), in Senate Rules. This act reauthorizes the Joint Legislative Growth Strategies Oversight Commission to study ways to give local governments authority to manage sprawl more effectively.

S1030, Electronics Recycling and Job Creation Act, Sen. Janet Cowell (Wake-D), in Senate AENR. Establishes an advanced recovery fee on electronic devices and uses that money to fund electronics recycling programs.

S1046, Infrastructure Foundation for 21st Century, Sen. Daniel Clodfelter (Mecklenburg-D), in Senate Rules. Authorizes a bond referendum to fund the “Land for Tomorrow” land conservation initiative, as well as water and sewer infrastructure and school construction. The House version, H1687, Rep. Lucy Allen (Franklin-D), Rep. Joe Hackney (Orange-D), Rep. William Wainwright (Craven-D), Rep. Daniel McComas (New Hanover-R), in House Finance, provides funding for land conservation but not schools or water and sewer infrastructure.

6. Changes in bill status.

S1030, Electronics Recycling and Job Creation, Janet Cowell (Wake-D). This bill still eligible from last session establishes an electronics recycling program. Re-referred from Senate Finance to Senate Agriculture, Environment and then, if favorable, to Senate Appropriations.




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