Senate clears bills protecting wood-burning stoves, expanding logo signs
Posted April 23, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — The state Senate met for about an hour on Thursday and quickly sent more than a dozen bills to the state House for consideration. The following are among the more notable measures approved:
Wood-burning stoves: North Carolina would opt out of enforcing federal regulations restricting the use of wood-burning stoves for heat if Senate Bill 303 becomes law.
"The EPA has drafted over 300 pages of regulations for wood stoves and heaters," Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, said, noting that in many western North Carolina counties have large populations that rely on wood stoves for heat.
"This is the point where the EPA has really hopped on the crazy train," Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell said, adding that one out of five residents in Yancey County rely on wood stoves.
Although senators were largely supportive of the wood-burning stove provision, other parts of the bill drew criticism. Those sections would slow the adoption of all federal air quality rules by the state going forward. Such regulations would need to clear the appointed Environmental Management Commission by a super-majority vote and then face legislative sign off.
"No longer is the state going to be on autopilot for what the EPA is cramming down upon us," Barefoot said.
The bill passed 40-9.
Logo signs: Senators voted 49-0 to allow the Department of Transportation to expand where blue business logo signs can be placed. Currently, the state-administered signs are only on interstate highways to let people know where gas stations, hotels and restaurants are located at the exits. Senate Bill 304 would allow the blue signs to be placed on smaller highways where access is only partially controlled, such as parts of U.S. Highway 70 that move through eastern North Carolina.
Board of Governors: Senators voted 49-0 to pass Senate Bill 670, which would limit members of the University of North Carolina system Board of Governors to serving three full four-year terms.
Bus cameras: After debating the same bill Wednesday, senators voted 49-0 to allow counties to level $500 fines on drivers whose cars are photographed weaving around a school bus with its stop-arm out.