The top Republican leadership in the North Carolina General Assembly unsuccessfully continued to press Democrats to defect from upholding Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto last week. Tell your legislators to stand with Gov. Cooper and sustain his veto!
Despite another week of attempted arm-twisting and political bribery, however, House leaders pulled back from bringing the veto override to a floor vote. This indicated that they had not been successful in luring Democratic House members to vote for the override.
Among other offers, House Republican budget leaders have sought to relocate the state Department of Health and Human Services from Raleigh to a yet-unspecified county in exchange for votes from that county’s Democrats. This bait has reportedly been dangled over legislators from multiple counties. Top Senate Republicans have simply released strident denunciations of Cooper, and then decamped for a meeting in Europe. Even with repeated invitations to legislative leaders from Cooper, no real negotiations are yet underway.
Citizen conservation advocates oppose the budget bill as adopted, on grounds that it continues to underfund state pollution control enforcement, fails to fund the research and monitoring critical to addressing the problem of emerging toxic water pollutants like GenX, and delays tighter controls on water pollution from factory hog farms. If the Democratic legislators stick together, real negotiation will ultimately be required to pass any budget.
“The governor used his veto stamp because this bad budget keeps kicking the can down the road on GenX and hog waste, underfunds DEQ, and threatens clean air and water for every North Carolinian,” said NCLCV executive director Carrie Clark. “It’s been two years since GenX hit the headlines, and we’re still waiting for our leaders to get serious about detecting and regulating it and other so-called PFAS chemicals which are poisoning our drinking water. We’ve waited even longer for our government to get tough on Smithfield Foods. The new hog farm permit proposed earlier this year would be a good start. But legislators are in Smithfield’s pocket, and the budget would delay the new rules yet another year.”
Meanwhile, the bill enabling Duke Energy to obtain approval for multi-year rate hikes (Senate Bill 559) passed out of its assigned House committees, but a vote on the House floor continues to be delayed, a sign they also don’t have the votes on this. Conservation advocates strenuously oppose this bill, which would reduce public transparency and regulatory control over Duke rate hikes. Analysts predict Duke would use the new law to seek a multi-year, massive rate hike to force the public to pay for cleaning up Duke’s coal ash pits.
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