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Hunt Signs Hurricane Recovery Act Into Law

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RALEIGH — The North Carolina General Assembly has passed the Hurricane Floyd Recovery Act of 1999, and Gov. Jim Hunt has signed it into law.

The Senate passed the bill around 2 p.m., and the House passed the Senate version around 2:30. Hunt then signed the bill into law after which legislators went home.

Lawmakers returned to Raleigh Wednesday morning for the Special Session. House members spent the day working on the act before passing it.

Before ending the special session, senators admitted the relief package for Hurricane Floyd victims has some holes.

"Of course, this is not a perfect bill, but it is a wonderful Christmas present to the people who are hurt," said Sen. John Kerr.

Critics say the $826 million in flood aid is coming from other state programs for the needy. They believe legislators should have found another way to raise the funding.

"The real solution was to do what we did the last time our state had a budget crisis in 1991. That was to impose a temporary surcharge on corporate income tax and personal income tax which the average citizen would have barely felt," said Chris Fitzsimon of the Common Sense Foundation.

The state money is one top of $2.2 billion of federal money targeted for North Carolina. The state money will cover homeowners, business owners and farm owners.

The Senate adjourned Wednesday night just one hour before the House passed its version. Senators said they wanted to review the act thoroughly before voting on it, and they expected to do so in one day.

Thursday's session was started by Sen. Roy Cooper, whose district has some of the worst flood damage in the state. Cooper is one of the lawmakers who took a lead in developing the multi-million dollar aid package.

"There are numerous changes that have been made in the House. I don't think any of them are that substantial that we can't try to move this piece of legislation here through today," Cooper said.

Cooper spoke of the hardships suffered by North Carolina residents as a result of Hurricane Floyd. He said the relief package will start to heal the gaping wound.


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