Warren's Weekly: coal ash bill signed, Hope 4 Haley becomes law

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Harry Warren, (R-77) represents Rowan County in the North Carolina General Assembly.  Each week Warren provides WBTV with an update on happenings in the state house, with a particular eye on what will have an impact in Rowan.

Here is the unedited update from Representative Warren, dated July 3:

This morning, the House passed Senate Bill 729 The Coal Ash Management Act of 2014, after thoroughly amending it and subjecting it to hours of debate over two days on the House floor.

"The Coal Ash Management Act of 2014" which passed with a 94 to 16 bipartisan vote, requires all coal ash ponds to be cleaned by 2029.

Like the Senate version, the House bill creates a Coal Ash Management Commission to oversee the assessment, planning and clean-up of all coal ash ponds across the state.

Ponds will be assessed and grouped into one of three classifications based upon risk to surrounding water supply.  High-risk ponds will be required to be cleaned by 2019.

Other key components of the House coal ash bill include:

  • Requires an emergency action plan in the event of a future spill
  • Requires every pond in NC to be classified in one of three clean-up prioritization categories
  • Mandates a quarterly written report to the Environmental Review Commission and Coal Ash Management Commission on the status of coal ash clean-up

The bill will also encourage the development of creative and innovative solutions for coal ash use statewide while creating parameters that ensure safe beneficial use.

Several changes were made to the Senate version of the bill including:

  • Moves the proposed Coal Ash Management Commission to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
  • Extends the moratorium for rate cases related to coal ash clean-up to the end of 2016
  • Requires DENR to study deadlines listed in the Act and report the findings back to the Environmental Review Commission by the end of 2014
  • Shortens the required response time from 30 days to 24 hours to provide potable drinking water in the event of drinking water contamination

Coal ash cleanup was a legislative priority of the House and Senate for the short session.

Due to changes to the bill, it will go back to the Senate for a vote of "concurrence." It is expected that the Senate will vote to NOT concur, after which conferees will be appointed from the House and the Senate to work out their differences in a Conference Committee

Next week, most General Assembly work will be done by the House and Senate Appropriations Chairs and Vice- Chairs, as they meet to iron out the few remaining budget issues between the two chambers.  Virtually all standing committee work has been completed and, other than the budget, there is likely no other legislation that remains for the 2013 - 2014 session of the NC General Assembly. The Governor's veto of HB 1069 - Unemployment Insurance Law Changes Act remains to be addressed by the legislature and most likely will not be acted upon until the budget issue has been resolved. I anticipate that both of these issues will be finalized by the middle of July, at which point the General Assembly will adjourn sine die until the new General Assembly convenes for the 2015 - 2016 session. I will keep you posted as news develops.

Here is a recap of the General Assembly's work for this current week:

(Certain items of this report provided by and reprinted with the permission of MVA Public Affairs.)


This week, the Governor signed into law:

·         HB 1043, Prequalification Update

·         SB 58, Clarify Statute of Repose

·         SB 477, No Set Fee/Non-covered Vision Services

·         HB 1220, Hope 4 Haley and Friends. 


This week the House passed:

·         SB 594, Omnibus Justice Amendments

·         SB 729, Coal Ash Management Act of 2014

·         SB 761, Credit for Military Training

·         HB 1181, NC Medicaid Modernization

·         SB 794, Disapprove Industrial Commission Rules

·         SB 853, Business Court Modernization.

The Senate passed:

·         HB 1052, Adjust the Utility Regulatory Fee

·         HB 1025, DOT / DMV Changes

·         SB 773, Implement GSC Recommendations.


The Senate failed to concur with SB 614, Military Lands Protection Act, and SB 648, NC Commerce Protection Act.  Conference committees have been created for SB 614 and SB 648 so the Senate and House can work out final resolutions on both bills.


House Environment Committee

The House Environment Committee met on Tuesday, July 1, and Representative West chaired the meeting.  The committee reviewed SB 729, the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014.  NCGA Research Division staff reviewed the various provisions of the legislation for the committee, and members were able to ask questions regarding SB 729.  This was a discussion only meeting, so no votes were taken.

On Wednesday, July 2, the House took up SB 729 for consideration and adopted a House proposed committee substitute and added a couple of amendments to the bill.  The House proposed committee substitute extends the date for the moratorium on rate cases for costs related to impoundments from January 15, 2015, to March 1, 2017, moves the Commission to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), moves the deadline applicable to a prohibition on construction of new and expansion of existing impoundments from July 1, 2014, to August 1, 2014, adds a variance provision for closure deadlines and several other provisions.  SB 729 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration.

On Wednesday, July 2, the House Finance Committee met and approved several bills.  Among them were:

·         HB 1144, Study 1% / 480 Rate for Mill Machinery, which would require a study of the types of equipment that are subject to the mill machinery tax in lieu of the sales and use tax.

·         SB 729, Coal Ash Management Act of 2014, (described above).

·         SB 853, Business Court Modernization, that would make changes with respect to the type of cases that are heard in business court and would provide a mechanism for a corporation to merge itself into a wholly owned subsidiary to create a holding company structure without a shareholder vote.

House Appropriations Committee

The House Appropriations Committee met on Wednesday, July 2, and approved a committee substitute forHB 1181, North Carolina Medicaid Modernization.  The bill would establish a framework for moving the state's Medicaid program from a traditional fee-for-service model to a capitated model in which provider-led networks would assume most risks for costs under the program.  The bill has now passed the full House and will head to the Senate.

The Senate and House conferees for SB 744, Appropriations Act of 2014, met on Wednesday, July 2.  The conferees traded offers with respect to several key items regarding revenue availability or spending requirements.  The conferees agreed upon numbers for projected reversions from the 2013-14 fiscal year, Medicaid cost overruns for the 2013-14 fiscal year, and Medicaid "re-base" requirements for the 2014-15 fiscal year.  The conferees did not reach agreement on revenue availability from lottery proceeds.


The Associated Press: NC budget negotiators find agreement on Medicaid

WRAL: Compromise reached on Common Core repeal bill

Raleigh News & Observer: Senate leaders urge House to override veto


I wish you all a very happy 4th of July holiday with family and friends.  As we celebrate our country's independence, let us take a moment to remember those whose sacrifices over the decades have given us our freedoms and commit to do whatever we can to pass those freedoms on to the next generation.  We live in a Great State in a Great Country. July 4th is the perfect time to acknowledge our differences so we can bridge them, embrace the strengths born from our diverse ideologies and philosophies and recognize that we are truly one people, one country, rich in heritage and blessed in many, many ways.