Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A few things to expect from the short session

Posted By on Wed, May 14, 2014 at 10:52 AM

State legislators convene today for what is expected to be an action-packed short session. Short because they aren't allowed to raise money during the session but action packed because the issues they could take up include coal ash, teacher raises and fracking.

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1. Gov. McCrory, who recently told the Observer he's going to be more "assertive" this year, faces a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand he's promised educators a raise - which we supported, sort of, deeming the plan promising but detail-less - but the state faces an expected $445 million budget shortfall.

2. Lawmakers are also expected to take up - and clear a path for - fracking, as we noted here. In short, "a legislative commission is rolling language into a drafted energy bill that would remove barriers that might otherwise delay mining companies from coming into North Carolina. It will, for example, allow companies to drill for shale gas without disclosing the chemicals they use. [State Mining and Energy Commission chairman Jim Womack] expects the bill to 'breeze right through' the General Assembly."

3. Similarly, lawmakers are expected to take up coal ash. Will they require Duke Energy to clean up all 33 ponds in the state? Will they ban Duke from footing the bill to ratepayers? All are viable options. In the wake of the Dan River spill, we wrote about how Charlotte is ground zero for coal ash. Read it here.

4. The General Assembly could also vote to strip municipalities the authority to remove, replace or preserve trees - and, in turn, make it easier for developers to clear them.

What else do you think they'll take up?

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