Gov's bills potential targets at end of session

Posted July 23, 2013
Updated July 24, 2013

— Two bills that are high on the governor's priority list are potential targets for last-minute changes and additions as the session draws to a close.

One proposal, Senate Bill 127, is the legislation Gov. Pat McCrory has sought to authorize a revamp of the state Commerce Department. The proposal would allow for agency reorganization and public-private partnerships. 

That bill is currently in a conference committee after Senate leaders said it needed a closer look. But three House Republicans privy to those committee talks say Senate leaders are pushing to add two controversial environmental provisions to the measure.

The two provisions, which lack support from either the House or McCrory, could be destined for legislative limbo. But adding them into a bill the governor has called one of his top priorities could add leverage to the changes – if House negotiators allow it.

'Fracking' non-disclosure

One provision, most recently sighted in the regulatory reform omnibus House Bill 74, would prevent the Mining and Energy Commission from requiring natural gas drilling companies to hand over the chemical recipes for the fluids they're using in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," operations.

The provision in the bill says drilling companies must show their specific chemical recipes to the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Mining and Energy Commission for review, but DENR wouldn't keep records of the chemical components of the fluids on file if they are deemed a trade secret. 

DENR backed the provision, saying that possession of trade secrets could put the state in the middle of potential litigation. But the Mining and Energy Commission was less supportive. Critics say the recipes should be on file in some form to protect the health and safety of first responders who might have to contend with a spill or other accident. 

The House sent House Bill 74 to a conference committee, reportedly because of the secrecy provision.


The other provision Senate leaders are said to be pushing to add to the Commerce Department reorganization bill is a controversial proposal to ease restrictions on the siting and permitting of landfills in North Carolina, currently known as Senate Bill 328.

In 2007, state lawmakers passed sweeping changes to the state's landfill laws. At the time, their aim was to derail plans for a mega-landfill in Camden County that would accept trash from the Northeast.

Backers of the new landfill bill say the 2007 changes were so restrictive that the state hasn't permitted a single landfill since their passage. They say the state will need more landfill capacity in the next 15 to 20 years, though environmental experts say it's more like 30.

Senate Bill 328 would allow landfills to be built within 1,500 feet of national wildlife refuges, state parks and game lands. Current law requires a distance of 5 miles from refuges, 2 miles from state parks and 1 mile from game lands. It would also loosen inspection and permitting rules and require that garbage trucks be only leak-resistant, rather than leak-proof, a financial boon for the waste industry.

The bill emerged suddenly at the end of June, championed by Sen. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford. Despite opposition by Democrats and three of Wade's fellow Republicans, it passed the Senate and moved to the House, where it hasn't been taken up.  

McCrory has expressed concerns about the legislation. So has the city of Chesapeake, Va. Since the 2007 law, local officials have worked to develop the area that was planned for the Camden mega-landfill as a green industrial park instead. While their efforts have been successful, they're concerned the bill could lead to a landfill in the middle of it. U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia has also weighed in, asking the governor to nix the bill. 

Back-up target?

Another high-priority bill for the governor is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday. McCrory has been pushing Republican leaders to approve House Bill 834, a proposal that would give the governor more flexibility to hire and fire state employees by rewriting the State Personnel Act. 

The bill is certainly not the only bill the governor's asked for that's been put on hold in Senate Rules. But it may be the highest-profile proposal left at the Senate's disposal. As such, it would make an ideal vehicle for other provisions McCrory doesn't like – but, again, only if the House agrees.


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  • monami Jul 24, 2013

    "Pretty obvious "The Gov" doesn't really care about NC's protected areas (State Parks, Wildlife preserves, etc). Hopefully the Federally protected areas in NC can override his imbecilic laws."

    Yes, it's obvious. He's bent on achieving ruthless measures which his puppetmaster(s) told him to obtain. He doesn't care about the people. If we could only see his tax returns and have a look-see at his finances. It must be worth a lot to throw a state into a toxic, uneducated, unhealthy, crime-ridden downward spiral.

  • JamesEvans Jul 24, 2013

    Business is business, money is money.
    Scenario: ground water communication. This could take 10 to 20 years to detect. Sure, the state may sue the pants off of the fracking companies. However, the investors/stockholders are long gone, and the fracking companies are either bankrupt or are non-existent years from now. So, the state is basically suing a bankrupt company by the time contamination/environmental damage is detected, and several residents have cancer. :(

  • 426X3 Jul 24, 2013

    Pretty obvious "The Gov" doesn't really care about NC's protected areas (State Parks, Wildlife preserves, etc). Hopefully the Federally protected areas in NC can override his imbecilic laws.

  • downtowner Jul 24, 2013

    "You'll still have a week and a half plus election day to vote...plenty of time...keeping those polling places open those extra days costs money"

    We are the greatest nation on earth and yet in your mind we cannot even afford a few extra days to provide a constitutionally protected right. How ironic.

  • goldenosprey Jul 24, 2013

    "So you trust the government more than private companies?"

    Why do have less trust for those whose goal it is to be elected or re-elected (ideally by 50% or more percent of the vote) than those whose goals are to to serve a small number of out of state shareholders and personal financial gain

    Why is welfare for corporations good and welfare for the poor and sick bad?

  • anderson Jul 24, 2013

    Tyrannical fools with sellouts and "at least it's not democrats in charge" sheep in tow.

    When someone says "revamp the commerce department" and "public-private partnerships" one should read "disassemble government in some places so we can give money to private interests."

    Disgusting. All of it.

    Click to view my profile Mon Account

    So you trust the government more than private companies?

  • anderson Jul 24, 2013

    anderson, putting huge landfills near environmentally sensitive areas so we can become the Eastern US's dumping ground will bring lots of good jobs too, huh? How cheaply some would sell out.

    I don't support taking in waste from other states...guess I wasn't clear on that part...but fracking has brought in TONS of money to North Dakota and greatly improved their economy...like with anything else, there are risks and rewards...IMO the rewards outweigh the risks

  • easternNCborn Jul 24, 2013

    "I have not noticed much coming out of Government that is in the best interests of the citizens of North Carolina."

    I'd really like to explain some of the programs the state has that do help the general public of NC, but I do not want to jeopardize the job of my spouse by being too specific. Take a little time to look at the programs in public health, social services, and lab certification. These are programs that work with private industry and municipalities to ensure the health and safety of the citizens of this state. I know it's too easy for the general public and media to demonize state employees and point to the situations that go bad, but there are many things that work well.

  • whatelseisnew Jul 24, 2013

    The trucks need to be required to be leak-proof, assuming that is even feasible. If in fact it is too difficult to set up new landfills, then make some reasonable changes. However, do not start taking waste from other States AND do not change the distances that a landfill must be from things like refuges.
    The recipe for fracking, require it to be on site and require it to be accessible to first responders. I really wish they could do this fracking with ZERO chemicals. I generally support fracking, but it must have strict controls and ACTUAL oversight.

  • whatelseisnew Jul 24, 2013

    " All the governor's act intends to do is intimidate rank and file employees to do as the GA and governor want and not what is in the best interest to the citizens of NC."

    I have not noticed much coming out of Government that is in the best interests of the citizens of North Carolina. Over many years now, I have seen rampant waste and corruption, massive overspending and borrowing. A huge increase in the size of Government, much more money being extracted from my pocket, and at the same time, a deteriorating school system and crumbing infrastructure. Having said that I am no fan of expanding the powers of ANY Government official, be they a politician or a bureaucrat. Unfortunately, instead the size and level of control over my life (always to my detriment), continues to grow. It is much worse at the Federal Level.