Lawmakers give up on coal ash, Medicaid reform

Posted August 15, 2014

NC Flag, Legislative Building, Raleigh

— Legislative leaders said Friday they're no longer planning to return to Raleigh for a special session after the November elections.

That means there likely won't be a coal ash cleanup plan or a Medicaid reform plan in 2014, despite the fact that House and Senate leaders identified both as top priorities for the 2014 session.

When the two chambers wrapped up the bulk of their work two weeks ago, House and Senate leaders were deadlocked over differing plans to require Duke Energy to clean up its 33 coal ash ponds in North Carolina. They decided to finish work on that bill in November, when they had already planned to return a special session to work on Medicaid reform.

On Thursday, Senate leaders sent the House three adjournment resolutions. One included a November session on Medicaid reform and coal ash, a second set a November session for Medicaid reform only and the third would simply adjourn "sine die" – literally "without day" to return – which officially ends the two-year session.

Senate leaders said they had a "strong preference" for the first option. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger reiterated that preference Friday afternoon. 

But later Friday, after a contentious debate over a Senate gambit to link a fix for teacher assistant funding to an economic development measure, House Speaker Thom Tillis announced the House would pass the "sine die" resolution instead.

The decision came at the end of a session that has lingered on far longer than legislators expected, highlighting deep tension and conflict between House and Senate Republicans.

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca was philosophical.

"We gave them three options. They're welcome to choose whichever they like,"  said Apodaca, R-Henderson.

The Senate's most vocal advocate of coal ash legislation, he noted that Gov. Pat McCrory could call the legislature back to Raleigh to deal with coal ash if action is required before next year. He also hinted that a fix could come next week, when legislators will return to finish work on the bills that hit a logjam Friday.

Meanwhile, Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said he feels the governor and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are making "sufficient" progress on the coal ash cleanup without legislative action. 

Tillis said the House and the Senate still disagree on "some technical parts of the bill" and would work out those differences in the interim. He added that there's little difference between coming back in November to pass a bill and waiting until January.

"A new group of legislators will be in in January," he pointed out.


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  • UNJUSTIFIED Aug 18, 2014

    Great title......Im going to use a simular one come November,,,,NCGA,Speaker,Governor, I give up, on giving you any more chances...

  • streetglide Aug 18, 2014

    time to give up and time now for a vacation, me to, think I am just going to leave my job today, because I can't get anything done and just take a vacation for a while.. and guess what, they still get paid,, do you??,, someone tell me how this system is supposed to work, certainly not in the public sector that is for sure!

  • A_Patriot Aug 18, 2014

    Forget coal ash and Medicaid reform - what of preventing holders of homeowner insurance policies in NC from getting shafted with these "allow us to increase your rates or find another company" antics?!?

  • Forthe Newssite Aug 18, 2014
    user avatar

    what a disgusting group of do-nothing people. I've never seen anything like them. And they don't need to worry WE WILL REMEMBER their lack of working while they got paid. Want the PAC $$ doubt it will do you yahoos any good come election....

    ALL OF US have been watching!

  • kirtl Aug 16, 2014

    I'm far from a democrat but this is just pathetic. Time to hold republicans to the same standard that they wanted us to hold the democrats. Failure to lead and failure to act on what they claimed were their TOP priorities. Vote em out. Find someone that will do the job. Its a cry in shame there are not good democrats in NC.

  • Rjoe Gleen Aug 16, 2014
    user avatar

    I hope all of you who voted for the current Governor and majority party House and Senate have finally awakened to the profound disservice you have done to the State of NC. Why do you continue to vote against your own self interests? With the exception of a very few, you are poorer, less healthy, less educated, less able to vote, more taxed, more insignificant, less able to make your own decisions about marriage (soon to change though), and generally much less important (with the exception of your vote) to those you voted for.

  • bhdickerson Aug 16, 2014

    That Tillis is a snake! He is not a leader and definitely not doing what is best for North Carolina by drop kicking the coal ash and Medicaid. Why would anyone elect him to higher office?

  • Jerry Sawyer Aug 16, 2014
    user avatar

    The legislative leaders need to learn how to get work done. One idea, start working 12 hour days every day until they meet their goals like the real world does.

  • Michael Iantosca Aug 16, 2014
    user avatar

    THIS is what you get with a completely republican controlled legislature! They can't ever agree amongst themselves, yet they have no problem digging a massive deficit come next year by not planning for enough revenue. I am no fan of the Dems, but the GOP? Disgusting!

  • Jack Jones Aug 16, 2014
    user avatar

    Tillis & Berger failed the citizens of North Carolina. Our NCGA failed us again.