Today @NCCapitol (5/22): Celebrating an anniversary and pushing ahead with fracking

Posted May 22, 2014

The historic capitol building as see from the roof of the current legislative building.

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, May 22. Here's what's going on at the General Assembly and elsewhere in state government.

HISTORIC HOUSE: State Representatives will meet in the historic state Capitol Building in honor of the 220th anniversary of the legislature's first meeting in Raleigh. In addition to giving a nod to history, the House is expected to give tentative approval to a sales tax clarification needed before people start renting houses for the U.S. Open golf tournament this summer in Pinehurst. 

The House Session is scheduled for 11 a.m., and WRAL.com plans to carry it live. Check the Video Central box on the homepage. 

BOUNCED: The resolution does try to sober up history a bit. 

"Whereas, in 1788, the Constitutional Convention decided that the State's capital should be located within 10 miles of Isaac Hunter's plantation in Wake County," reads the initial draft of the House resolution recognizing its 220th anniversary.

According to the state library and Department of Cultural Resources, it was not so much the plantation as Isaac Hunter's tavern that was the epicenter of the search for a new permanent home for North Carolina's capital city. According to several accounts, the tavern was both a geographically convenient stop for many travelers and served a pretty good Cherry Bounce, a popular alcoholic beverage of the time. 

SENATE STAYING: Senators will not bounce up the street for their session. The historic capitol does not have many of the modern conveniences, including the electronic voting system that helps clerks keep up with the votes on amendments and legislation. Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg Regulatory reform heads for Senate floor Fracking site, natural gas drilling well Senate hits gusher with quick approval of drilling bill

Two major bills are on the Senate's plate. After tentatively granting approval Wednesday to a measure that would allow natural gas drilling permits to be issued in 2015 versus 2016, Senators are expected to grant final approval Thursday, sending the bill to the state House. 

Senators are also expected to vote on a package of regulatory reforms, from changing parking fines for handicapped spaces to changing when polluters can be charged for spills. 

COMMITTEES: Legislative committees scheduled to meet include: 

SENATE JUDICIARY 1 (10 a.m.): The committee is scheduled to take up a package of measures that would adjust when and how certain businesses could be sued. Many of the measures have been pushed by national pro-business groups but raised eyebrows when first vetted on Tuesday as lawyers said several of the measures were duplicative and confusing. 

Possum DropHOUSE RULES (10 a.m.): The committee is scheduled to sign off on Gov. Pat McCrory's appointments for state controller and a new member of the Industrial Commission. Also, committee members will look over a measure designed to ensure the annual possum drop celebration on New Year's Eve is able to go forward. 

HOUSE BANKING (10 minutes after session): The committee will take up a measure titled, "Conform Pledge of Joint Account Laws."

THE GOVERNOR: McCrory will be in Charlotte. He is scheduled to attend a North Carolina Heroes' Fund lunch.

ELECTIONS: The State Board of Elections is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. to certify the results of the May 6 primary. 

JUVENILES: Late Wednesday, the state House passed a bill allowing 16- and 17-year-old misdemeanor offenders to be considered juveniles. Currently, anyone 16 or older is treated as an adult in the criminal justice system, a situation that proponents of the measure say turns foolish mistakes into lifetime handicaps. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. 

BRAWLEY BRAWL: This much is clear: Rep. Robert Brawley, R-Iredell, will no longer participate as a full-fledged member of the House Republican caucus. House Republicans held a vote of no confidence on Brawley on Tuesday evening. "Effectively, it removed me from the caucus," Brawley said. He has been a vocal critic of House Speaker Thom Tillis. 

CARBON MONOXIDE: "Responding to last year’s deaths at a Boone hotel, North Carolina lawmakers are proposing to broaden and clarify laws on carbon monoxide alerts in hotels and other lodgings," according to the Charlotte Observer.

TILLIS TALKS: House Speaker Thom Tillis made an appearance Wednesday before the state’s chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a small-business advocacy group. Although he mentioned his U.S. Senate campaign only once, and obliquely at that, it was a clear subtext for many of his remarks.

TAXES: The tax bill dealing with electronic cigarettes and privilege licenses for cities was approved a second time by the state House Wednesday, sending the measure to the Senate. 

TROLLS: The House Commerce Committee approved a bill that would give North Carolina companies recourse against patent trolls. It now goes to a judiciary committee. 

ENERGY: Natural gas pipeline expansions may be in the works for North Carolina in the next few years as leaders weigh long-term energy plans, officials said at the North Carolina Energy Policy Council meeting Wednesday morning.

MARIJUANA: A state lawmaker wants to put the issue of medical marijuana before North Carolina voters as a proposed constitutional amendment. Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Mecklenburg, filed House Bill 1161 on Tuesday calling for a referendum on the November ballot to legalize the cultivation and use of marijuana in North Carolina to treat more than two dozen "debilitating medical conditions," from cancer and Lou Gehrig's disease to incontinence and sleep apnea. Constitutional amendments are extremely difficult to pass, requiring super majorities in both the state House and Senate before going to the voters.

PUBS: A Wilmington lawmaker has filed a bill that would allow bars to operate as normal businesses rather than quasi-private clubs.


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  • Terry Watts May 22, 2014
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    Plutonium, cyanide, and cow manure are also "natural". I'd rather not have any of it in my water though... YMMV...

  • Todd Singleton May 22, 2014
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    Poisoning water with the chemicals used to extract natural gas is not natural.

  • Todd Singleton May 22, 2014
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    So you're saying companies should reveal trade secrets if their products are known to kill people? Where's your excitement and enthusiasm for free market capitalism and enriching those invested? A move like that would threaten revenue and save lives. How dare you.

  • downtowner May 22, 2014

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    The entire point of fracking is to inject those chemicals into the earth. Those chemicals are called "trade secrets" because if we were able to know exactly what they were there would be a public outcry against injecting them into the earth. They are no doubt hazardous, toxic, and cancer causing agents. Sounds like our legislators and NCGA would rather side with a corporate super villian from Captain Planet then the middle class.

  • Alan Baker May 22, 2014
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    You'll note that almost none of the items he mentions have much to do with the kind of fracking proposed in North Carolina.

    The "productive people" dog whistle is a sign the only post of the day scoreboard on which this should appear in is the one for lobbyists who pay posters to cram messages like this on every comment board and news site. The only people pushing for fracking right now are those with money to gain. Set your skepticism accordingly.

  • thinkfirsttypelater May 22, 2014

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    The problem is that we don't have anything close to the Marcellus formation under NC. Look at the shale maps for NC and compare them to the Marcellus maps. NC is a low priority for the industry because of the expected low yield, so we'll likely end up with smaller, less stable companies fracking here meaning fewer jobs and less advanced safety precautions.

  • thinkfirsttypelater May 22, 2014

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    The point is that we pump it out way faster than it's made, therefore the supply is finite unless you wait millenia for it to replenish. This has been established science forever. The earth is constantly making diamonds as well, but you can't bury a piece of coal in the backyard and have a diamond by dinner time.

  • Ty Shrake May 22, 2014
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    "Most voters have done due diligent research on fracking" - ILoveDowntownRaleigh

    No, they haven't. The vast majority of voters know almost nothing about it. Talk to them and ask them for details. You won't get any. They have no clue about the basic geology involved or that fracking has been used for decades, or that it occurs thousands of feet (often over a mile) below the water table, or that the chemicals used in fracking are also used in lipstick, ice cream, table salt and sports drinks.

    "There is no reasonable defense of fracking"

    Except that it works really well, provides many, many jobs, reduces our dependence on foreign oil and reduces our environmental impact compared to coal power. It also uses LESS water per BTU than coal mining.

    "it creates almost no jobs"

    Except where it does... In Pennsylvania in 2008, development of the Marcellus Shale created $2.3 billion in economic impact, created more than 29,000 jobs and $240 million in taxes

  • TTCP May 22, 2014

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    How much organic matter was there in between then & now ? How much organic matter is here Now ? It's nature/ the EARTH. Millions of years & still spinning.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU May 22, 2014

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    Some of us don't want toxins in our bodies. YMMV

    If someone wants to force us, our families & our children to ingest toxic, cancer-causing chemicals, we want to know and we might have something to say about that. YMMV

    If there are better ways to solve the energy problem, but some folks still want to live in the past & continue to destroy our planet and endanger our health, so they can line their pockets with cash and keep us all living in "the good ole days", we might have something to say about that. YMMV