Legislation

  • October 10, 2014 • Legislation

    Governor Pat McCrory issued a statement following the most recent court ruling on same-sex marriage:

    "The administration is moving forward with the execution of the court's ruling and will continue to do so unless otherwise notified by the courts. Each agency will work through the implications of the court's ruling regarding its operations."

  • October 9, 2014 • Jobs and the Economy, • Legislation

    Why North Carolina Got The Highest Grade On Cato's Fiscal Report Card

    by Nicole Kaeding

    Forbes

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/10/08/why-north-carolina-got-the-highest-grade-on-catos-fiscal-report-card/

     

    In less than two years, North Carolina’s governor and legislature have helped to revive the state’s economy. The  economy is growing and adding jobs, improving the well-being of North Carolina residents.

     

    Governor Pat McCrory took office in January of 2013, joining a Republican legislature. For the first time since Reconstruction, North Carolina’s executive and legislative branches were controlled by Republicans, and they had a large mandate for reform. In 2011, the state’s economy grew at an anemic 0.3 percent. It was well below the national rate of 1.6 percent and one of the lowest in the Southeast. The state’s growth lagged many of its peers in 2012 as well. Individuals wanted change.

     

    The new government took action to repair the state. The biggest item on the agenda was tax reform. McCrory and the legislature’s plan passed one of the most impressive tax reform packages in any state in years.

    ...

    In totality, this package puts North Carolina on a pro-growth trajectory with a low, broad tax structure. The reforms will vault North Carolina from 44th to 17th in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index. All told, these tax cuts reduced the burden of taxation on North Carolina residents by $700 million annually, or 3 percent of state tax revenues.

    ...

    For his efforts, Governor Pat McCrory received an “A” in the Cato Institute’s newest edition of its “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors.” The report card assigns grades of “A” to “F” to the nation’s governors based on their efforts to restrain government and cut spending. McCrory tied for the highest score of any governor.

     

    Under the leadership of Governor McCrory and the state legislature, North Carolina is poised for economic success. Limiting the growth of spending and passing tax reform is putting the state on a path of fiscal responsibility.

     

    Read it all here.

     

  • October 8, 2014 • Legislation
    Raleigh, N.C. - Governor Pat McCrory released the following statement following the 7-2 decision by U.S. Supreme Court:
     
    "I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has ensured this popular and common sense bill will apply to the upcoming election. We respect the legal process and thank the Supreme Court justices for protecting the integrity of our elections."

  • October 6, 2014 • Legislation

    Governor Pat McCrory released the following statement:

    "I disagree with the Supreme Court's decision, which goes against the amendment that North Carolina voters overwhelmingly approved. We will continue to respect the legal process as it proceeds."

  • October 1, 2014 • Legislation

    Raleigh, N.C. - Governor Pat McCrory released the following statement following the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision:

     

    "I am pleased that the major parts of this popular and common sense bill were left intact and apply to the upcoming election. I have instructed our attorneys to appeal to the Supreme Court so that the two provisions rejected today can apply in the future and protect the integrity of our elections."

  • September 18, 2014 • Legislation

    Raleigh, N.C. - Governor Pat McCrory released the following statement today on why he will allow House Bill 1086, which establishes the North Carolina and South Carolina rail compact, to become law without his signature:

     

    "Since taking office, one of my central goals has been better connecting North Carolinians to jobs, education and centers of commerce. Infrastructure can be a catalyst for economic development and adequate rail access to centers of economic activity is vital to the growth of our rural areas and the preservation of North Carolina’s small towns and farmlands. My 25 Year Transportation Vision announced this week notes the importance of enhancing freight movement and freight rail access in our eastern region. Where local officials, economic developers, civic groups and businesses take the lead in addressing these issues, my administration is ready and willing to help.

     

    "I understand that a group of local leaders has organized and led a committee to find a solution to revitalize freight rail service to southeastern North Carolina. I am encouraged by recent developments in negotiations with local governments and the railroad, and I commend their hard work on this issue and willingness to sacrifice personal time and resources to promote economic development in southeastern North Carolina.

     

    "House Bill 1086 puts in place half of a North Carolina – South Carolina commission in case local efforts fail and a joint multi-state venture at the state level is necessary. However, in doing so it creates a new commissionthat has the power to acquire infrastructure on behalf of the state, but does not report to any state agency with the expertise to acquire and maintain rail infrastructure. I have reservations about this legislation, but the new commission will not become effective until South Carolina adopts similar legislation and may require Congressional approval as well.

     

    "Furthermore, no funds have been appropriated that would enable the Commission to purchase the rail line, and the Commission’s other duties are advisory in nature and therefore appropriate for a Commission. In the interim, I will allow this bill to become law, and I appreciate the commitments I have already received from members of the General Assembly to work with my administration to address our concerns in the 2015 Session.

     

    "The hard work of local leaders has carved a path toward a solution for freight rail service in this region. Acquisition of this railroad by the public sector should be the last resort. As local officials in North Carolina and South Carolina move forward, my Departments of Commerce and Transportation, along with others in my administration, will continue to support the broader goal of economic development in this region through existing state and local organizations."

  • September 18, 2014 • Legislation

    Raleigh, N.C. – Giving a prisoner a cell phone is now a felony under legislation signed into law today by Governor Pat McCrory. Previously, the offense was a misdemeanor. The North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys praised the increased penalty in the wake of a kidnapping case which was directed by an incarcerated prisoner through communications sent by a cell phone.

     

    Among those attending today’s bill signing was Wake County Assistant District Attorney Colleen Janssen, whose father was kidnapped earlier this year.

     

    “We must do everything we can to protect those in the criminal justice system who protect us,” Governor McCrory said. “The state’s District Attorneys provided valuable guidance and support for this legislation, and North Carolina will be safer because of their efforts and those in the General Assembly who crafted and passed this bill.”

     

     

    Governor McCrory shakes hands with Wake County ADA Colleen Janssen. The governor was also joined by Reps. Hall, Stam and Dollar and Sen. Barefoot. 

     

     

    House Bill 369 makes numerous changes to the state’s criminal code, including increasing the penalty against those who assault or threaten a person who is carrying out their professional duties.

    The new law also streamlines firearm safety measures, increases penalties for those with multiple concealed firearm offenses and directs the Human Trafficking Commission to study the prevention of sexual abuse of children.

     

    The governor also continued his commitment to regulatory relief and reform with the signing of Senate Bill 734. 

     

    "This new law eliminates unnecessary regulations and laws and streamlines the rulemaking process,” Governor McCrory said. “Taxpayers will save money because this law will help reduce frivolous challenges that delay projects, improving the quality of life for North Carolinians.”

     

    SB 734 also expands protections for rare plants including Venus flytraps, which only grow natively in the United States in a few counties in North and South Carolina.

  • September 13, 2014 • Jobs and the Economy, • Legislation
    Asheville, N.C. - Governor Pat McCrory signed Senate Bill 3 into law today at the Governor's Western Residence in Asheville. The bill modifies the Job Maintenance and Capital Development (JMAC) Fund.
     
    "To continue the progress we have made strengthening North Carolina's economy and getting more people back to work, I’m proud to sign this legislation," said Governor McCrory. "This bill gives us an economic development tool to help existing companies in North Carolina modernize and grow. This tool not only helps our state retain and add more jobs, but it also helps companies convert to cleaner energy."
     
    The JMAC program encourages the retention of significant numbers of high-paying, high-quality jobs and large-scale capital investment that will modernize and provide more globally competitive products. The  Fund is a discretionary incentive program that provides grants to businesses, and is an important tool that helps North Carolina remain competitive in business and manufacturing.
     
    Senate Bill 3  increases the JMAC appropriation by $10 million for a total of $79 million and  also incentivizes the conversion to cleaner burning fuels.

  • September 12, 2014 • Legislation

    Raleigh, N.C. - Governor Pat McCrory announced today that he would not reconvene the Legislature for a special session.

     

     

    WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzKQgu422CI&feature=youtu.be

     

    “We have made major progress in getting people back to work here in North Carolina, and that didn’t happen by accident. From tax reform to a budget that provides raises to teachers, to coal ash legislation addressing a decades-old problem, the progress we have made is undeniable.

     

    “I’ve decided not to call our legislators back for a special session. It would be counterproductive and a waste of taxpayer money to bring the General Assembly back when there is no agreement in place on issues already voted on. However, if a major job recruitment effort develops and it requires legislative support, I will bring lawmakers back to Raleigh.

     

    “While lawmakers remain at home, my administration will continue to work on other important areas like developing a 25-year strategic transportation plan, cleaning up our coal ash ponds, improving our efficiency and infrastructure, and listening to medical providers on how to best reform Medicaid.

     

    “We will be busy operating state government and continuing to fight for programs that improve the opportunity, affordability, and quality of life for every North Carolinian.”

  • September 9, 2014 • Legislation

    Raleigh, N.C. - Governor Pat McCrory announced today he will let the Coal Ash Management Act, passed by North Carolina’s General Assembly Aug. 20, become law without his signature. The governor said that while the bill continues the aggressive approach his administration has taken to attack the coal ash issue, constitutional, operational and funding concerns with the bill prevent him from giving the bill a full endorsement.

     

    “In just a year and a half, my administration has taken more action to address groundwater and coal ash issues than any previous administration in North Carolina history – much of the action being many months before the Dan River Spill in February,” said Governor McCrory. “To ensure that we address the statewide issue of coal ash ponds, my administration drafted aggressive legislation that would result in the closure of all the state’s coal ash ponds, close loopholes in state law to strengthen the state’s ability to regulate coal ash ponds, strengthen the spill notification process to aid state emergency response, eliminate special exemptions for utilities and increase regulatory authority to ensure dam safety and protect water quality. While there are great pieces to this legislation, there are major deficiencies that need to be corrected.”

     

    Watch the full video statement here.

     

    Governor McCrory warned while the General Assembly was debating the bill, Senate Bill 729, that a portion of it may be unconstitutional due to the addition of a commission whose majority would be appointed by the Legislature. 

     

    “One of the major shortcomings is the formation of another unchecked, non-judicial commission that reports to no one, has no accountability, and adds another level of unneeded bureaucracy. That’s no way to run an efficient government. The Legislature’s duty is to draft and pass laws, not execute them. That is the executive branch’s duty,” continued Governor McCrory. 

     

    Lt. Governor Dan Forest said he will join Governor McCrory in seeking an advisory opinion from the N.C. Supreme Court. The governor said this approach is an attempt to avoid a prolonged legal challenge over a “strong difference of opinion” and allow the court to clarify the constitutional issue while moving forward to clean up coal ash at the same time. If unsuccessful in obtaining guidance from the Supreme Court, Governor McCrory said he would move forward with a lawsuit to challenge the Legislature’s “encroachment upon the executive branch.” In the meantime, the governor will move to make his appointments to the Coal Ash Commission and allow the legal process to proceed.

     

    Beyond the constitutional issues with the bill, Governor McCrory also pointed to what he said were funding and operational concerns, saying these parts could inadvertently impact the state’s ability to effectively regulate coal ash in the future.

     

    Overall, administration officials have pointed out two categories of shortcomings in the bill:

    • Constitutional questions:  The bill creates a Coal Ash Commission and gives a controlling majority of appointments (six) to legislators and three to the governor. The bill also requires the governor to issue an executive order, a clear separation of powers conflict. 
    • Operational problems:  The bill provides funding to cover the massive increase in work to regulate the closure of the ash ponds, but then explicitly restricts that funding to a smaller portion of the bill, leaving many critical tasks unfunded.  Further, the bill requires DENR to submit a certain report by Oct. 1. However, it also requires the utility to provide to DENR that information on the same date.

    On Feb. 2, state officials received notification that there was a release of wastewater into the Dan River at one of Duke Energy’s facilities near Eden, N.C. The spill, which released about 35,000 tons of coal ash and contaminated water into the Dan River, occurred because of a break in a stormwater pipe at a decades-old Duke Energy facility. In the short term, water quality testing showed spiked levels of contaminants. While drinking water supplies were not affected and no fish kills were observed, the spill coated the bottom of the river in ash for miles.

     

    State officials plan long-term monitoring of the Dan River, and have partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to hold Duke Energy accountable for violations of the federal Clean Water Act at the Eden facility and its 13 other coal plants in the state. 

     

    Even before the Dan River spill, the McCrory administration had aggressively pursued coal ash regulation. In 2013 DENR filed lawsuits in cooperation with the N.C. Attorney General’s office, alleging violations of state law regarding unlawful discharges and groundwater contamination at all 14 Duke Energy facilities. This action was unprecedented, even though the state, the utility and environmental action groups knew about groundwater contamination years before Governor McCrory took office.

     

    Governor McCrory said when he visited the Dan River after the spill that his priorities were ensuring the health and safety of the public as well as the wildlife in the river and the surrounding areas. Those are still a priority, he said today, but another priority is making sure that a spill like Dan River never happens again.

     

    “Most of the plan that passed the Legislature last month mirrored our plan closely, and there are numerous good points to the legislation, including closing loopholes made by the actions of previous legislatures and governors. It makes North Carolina the national leader in acknowledging and attacking the coal ash problem that has been building for more than half a century. I will let this bill become law because the positive parts of the legislation need to be implemented as soon as possible.”

     

    Senate Bill 729 will become law on Sept. 19.

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