Thursday's Senate session deals with environmental, power plant, possum bills

Posted May 21, 2015

NC state seal in Senate chamber

— The state Senate took action on eight bills Thursday. Following are among the most notable:

Senate Bill 716: A bill that would help clear the way for Duke Energy to convert an old coal-fired power plant to one that generates power from natural gas and electricity. The measure, which delays the final date for coal ash removal at the plan, now goes to the state House for approval.

Senate Bill 795: A bill that relaxes the State Environmental Policy Act. SEPA requires studies of the environmental impact of state-funded projects under certain circumstances. The bill passed second reading but was held for a final vote until next week.

House Bill 574: A bill that excludes possums from wildlife laws for a five-day period in late December and early January. The bill is designed to allow a Clay County businessman to continue holding an annual Possum Drop to celebrate New Year's Eve. It is the latest in a series of such bills and has already drawn the threat of a lawsuit from an animal rights group.

"This is going to cost us money, and it's going to cost us jobs, because this is embarrassing," said Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg.

Business leaders, Jackson said, are not going to want to invest in a state with such an odd ongoing public policy argument.

"Every time we enter the land of the absurd, our state pays the price," he said.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, responded, "As we say up in the mountains, I guess he ain't from around these parts."

The bill passed the Senate on a 38-9 vote and now returns to the state House for final approval.

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  • Benjamin Wright May 21, 2015
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    I really doubt whether we drop a possum or not is going to affect our economy. And I feel like animal rights groups should be able to find more worth while fights, I"m sure I could recommend a few. In case you haven't driven a car lately, being dropped on new years eve is the least of the problems for possums. The GOP's wanting to relax environmental standards is however a bigger problem.