Trash trucks target of power struggle

Posted April 9, 2014

Trash can, garbage can, trash collection, garbage collection

— State legislators are gearing up for a power struggle with the governor over leaky garbage trucks.

Last year, state lawmakers passed House Bill 74, a regulatory overhaul that included a provision loosening the laws on solid waste trucks. Instead of requiring trucks to be "leak-proof," the new law requires that they only be "leak-resistant."

The solid waste industry said the change was needed because some state troopers were ticketing trucks for rainwater runoff that they said did not come from the waste compartment.  

The change was approved by the Senate in a separate bill, but the House refused to take it up. Instead, House and Senate negotiators slipped the provision into House Bill 74 at the last minute, spurring protests from House Democrats as well as some Republicans.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill on the last possible day but expressed concerns about allowing garbage trucks to leak potentially unsanitary liquids. He issued Executive Order 22, arguing that the "leak-resistant" provision contradicted other environmental laws on the books and instructing state law enforcement officers to continue ticketing trash trucks if they are leaking liquid from or through the garbage they carry.

A draft bill approved Wednesday by the Environmental Review Commission would "terminate" or repeal that executive order.

Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Meckenburg, the committee co-chairwoman, said the executive order "appears to contradict legislation that was enacted." 

"It, in essence, becomes a line-item veto, which we can't have," Samuelson said. 

"We are continuing to work with the governor to get at what he intended without unintentionally stepping on legislative authority," she told the committee, "so that executive orders are honored the way they should be, but our legislative authority is also honored."

Rep. Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin, objected to the inclusion of the bill in the ERC's recommended legislation for 2014. He argued that McCrory's order clarifies, rather than contradicts, the 2013 provision.  

"Discussions with the governor, " Dixon said, "should have continued without putting this on the agenda."

Samuelson replied that lawmakers can amend the bill if needed. She said the draft bill has been circulating for a month, but the Governor's Office contacted her about it only this week.  

"We don't want bad leaky stuff to be leaking," Samuelson said, "but on the other hand, you don't want somebody stopped because they went through a rainstorm." 

Rep. Chuck McGrady, R- Henderson, spoke in favor of the repeal, even though he had objected to the provision during the House debate last July.

"I'm completely sympathetic with what the governor is trying to do here, but I'm really uncomfortable with the idea that the governor can override or attempt to override a piece of legislation he dislikes," McGrady said. "I appreciate your protecting our prerogatives."

Samuelson said there are at least three other executive orders that could also be added to the repeal legislation, one dating from the Easley administration and two from former Gov. Bev Perdue.

"They all have pieces that appear to be still in effect, but we're not sure anybody's still operating under them," she said. "Our intent is to continue to work with the governor so that everyone gets what they need."

The committee voted unanimously to approve its package of recommended legislation, including the repeal bill. The bills would be eligible for consideration in the upcoming short session.


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  • patracles221 Apr 11, 2014

    first off, its illegal for garbage trucks to be on the road uncovered. so if water was coming out of the truck it was because they were already breaking the law and secondthe water coming from garbage trucks is teeming with bacteria and that water can get splashed on wind shields and enter the car compartment through the air circulation system. Also, anyone been behind a hog truck when it was hauling live hogs. yea, that brown stuff leaking out is not mud.

  • Eric Hammond Apr 10, 2014
    user avatar

    all this over leaking stinky water? how doing something about the tons of garbage they spew out on the way to the landfill? the filth along the roads in this area is disgusting! I routinely drive through NC, SC, VA, & GA, and when it comes to "competing with the rest of the southeast" that's not a category we want to win, but unfortunately we're doing a bang-up job as trash heap state!

  • glarg Apr 10, 2014

    "The solid waste industry said the change was needed because some state troopers were ticketing trucks for rainwater runoff that they said did not come from the waste compartment. "

    This article could be greatly improved if there was some effort to verify the basic facts.

    If there were tickets issued- how many out of how big of a fleet? What was the ultimate resolution? Were the garbage compartments found to be the leaking component, or are we talking about water dripping off an exterior channel?

    The answers have to be out there.

  • 68_dodge_polara Apr 10, 2014

    [quote=13557219]Post b
    "So when your car breaks down, you blame the Liberal and Unions while wringing your hands about Socialism"

    That's why I don't drive a GM. ;)

  • Terry Watts Apr 10, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    So when your car breaks down, you blame the Liberal and Unions while wringing your hands about Socialism, rather than getting it fixed. That's awesome!

  • Kenny Dunn Apr 10, 2014
    user avatar

    The NC GA just continues to amaze. Wouldn't shock me if they removed all state environmental laws and just eliminated DENR. Who needs clean water anyway. Private industry will take care of you.

  • ncprr1 Apr 10, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Considering that the trash trucks were bought by Democrats and built by Democrats (union slackers), then there isn't much else that the GA can do at this point. It is an expensive and time-consuming process cleaning up Democrat failure and we continue to pay the price in many ways.

  • raleighboy524 Apr 10, 2014

    Long past time to get government out of the trash-pickup business. Let people deal with it as individual, private citizens.

  • Lisa Marie Fields Apr 10, 2014
    user avatar

    I hate to bust most of the bubbles that some of you are living in, but the state troopers DO pull trash trucks much more than regular commercial trucks, I know this because I work for a trash company!!! There is no way to make one of these truck totally leak proof, You also talk about trash coming out of the top of the truck, well I still have seen any other kind of vehicle pulled over for throwing trash out their windows????

  • Rebelyell55 Apr 10, 2014

    I'm not sure if NC can stand many more job creation bills. As for the current ERC, they seem to be pretty useless and a waste of tax payers dollars.