Up to five good clean energy laws could pass the North Carolina General Assembly with bipartisan support this summer — if they’re allowed to come to a vote.
One of the bills which passed the House with only one “no” vote and is waiting for Senate consideration is House Bill 245, the Efficient Government Buildings and Savings Act. It would upgrade hundreds of prisons, public universities, and other state-run buildings to cut their energy usage by 10%. The state Department of Environmental Quality anticipates the bill could save taxpayers $1.1 billion in energy costs.
House Bill 842 would limit homeowners associations’ power to restrict the installation of rooftop solar systems in residential areas. North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association Executive Director Ward Lenz described this bill as “pretty important, especially if we’re going to be achieving the needs in the [North Carolina] Carbon Plan.”
Both of these measures have been stuck in the powerful Senate Rules Committee for over a year. Nearly every bill is assigned to the respective chamber’s Rules Committee after being introduced, and must go back through it as the final step before going to the floor for final debate and votes. Bills that cross over from one chamber to another are usually assigned first to the receiving chamber’s Rules Committee. Many bills never make it from Rules to a standing committee for any debate at all, which is why the committee is known as the graveyard of the legislature. Most bills leadership wants to kill are shelved there forever. But with citizen pressure we can get the Senate moving on these important bills that would help save North Carolinians’ lives and money. Stay tuned to CIB for how you can help.