April 24, 2017
Bag Ban Repeal Among Bills on Fast Track
key deadline later this week, legislators last week began a full-on
push to move several bills affecting the coastal region, including a
controversial repeal of the plastic bag ban in place on the Outer Banks
Thursday morning, the Senate Agriculture, Environment and Natural
Resources Committee reviewed a new environmental omnibus bill and later
that afternoon added several amendments, including language that
mirrors a bill introduced in the House March 7 by Rep. Beverley
Boswell, R-Dare, to repeal the longstanding ban on thin, single-use
|Boswell’s bill and yet another aimed at repealing the ban were scheduled to be heard in committee meetings earlier last week, but the bills were taken off the calendars before being heard.
new provisions to repeal the bag ban were introduced by Sen. Bill Cook,
R-Beaufort, who said it was time to end the prohibition. Cook, one of
the committee co-chairs, said statistics from two beach cleanup
projects before and after the ban proved it was ineffective.
“It puts an unnecessary burden on our job creators and it has become very costly to business,” he said.
with the Southern Environmental Law Center questioned Cook’s maneuver
to insert the repeal into new legislation with no notice, saying it
shut out public comment.
law center’s Brooks Pearson said local officials had planned to travel
to Raleigh to challenge the repeal before the hearings were cancelled.
She said the ban has strong support on the Outer Banks.
this year’s effort to repeal the ban began, several local boards have
passed resolutions in support of the keeping the ban, including Kill
Devil Hills, Manteo and Dare County. The Outer Banks Chamber of
Commerce has also stated its opposition to repealing the ban.
Cook called the ban a feel-good measure.
because something makes you feel good doesn’t mean it really helps
anything,” he said in response to Pearson. “I don’t believe this ban
does anything for the environment. I think it just makes some folks
feel good, but it really doesn’t help anything.”
Robinson, a representative of North Carolina Retail Merchants
Association told senators the repeal was a top priority for the
we talk about removing red tape and impediments to business, this
continues to rise to the top of our members’ radar as something they
would like to see removed,” she said. “We have heard from members in
the area, small and large, that do not want to comply with this ban.”
said the ban has too many requirements and said the refund system of 5
cents for customers who shop with reusable bags had been a problem to implement.
center Attorney Mary Maclean Asbill said some parts of the law, such as
the reusable bag refund, could be fixed without a complete repeal. She
said the last-minute move had made finding any compromise difficult.
this bad process, there’s been no chance for amendments or discussion
between all these businesses of the Outer Banks and citizens of the
Outer Banks,” she said.
Ingram, co-chair of the Surfrider Foundation’s Outer Banks chapter,
said she is hearing plenty of response to the repeal proposal.
“There’s a pretty big groundswell of opposition,” Ingram said.
the foundation started reaching out to the towns and counties for
support, Ingram said she found many were already preparing to go on
record against it.
“They’re really doing it on their own,” she said. “The uproar has been so huge in opposition to the repeal.”
said Surfrider was a sponsor of the beach sweep and provided the
statistics Cook cited. She said there wasn’t enough information in the
report to support the senator’s conclusion. Ingram said the
organization has reached out to Boswell and Cook to see if there were
ways to address problems with the ban, but so far hadn’t heard back.
Either way, the clock is ticking.
General Assembly’s crossover deadline is Thursday. Non-appropriations
related bills that have not passed at least one chamber in the
legislature by then are generally considered dead for the session,
although exceptions happen.
of environmental provisions grouped into a half-dozen bills are
expected to move through committees this week and on to floor votes
ahead of the deadline.
with the bag ban repeal provisions in the Senate’s Environmental
Amendments 2 bill, Senate Bill 434 include several changes in riparian
buffer rules, including a prohibition on local governments requiring
buffers wider than state or federal laws allow.
bill also allows the state Division of Coastal Management and the
Department of Environmental Quality to negotiate an agreement with the
federal government to acquire dredged material easement sites and use
money from the state’s shallow draft inlet-dredging fund for the sites
for maintenance of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway north of Beaufort
Inlet to the Virginia border.
items in Senate Bill 434 include another delay in the the
implementation of the Jordan Lake and Fall Lake watershed rules and an
attempt settle a running dispute in New Hanover County over the cost of
implementing coastal stormwater requirements in one or more
Environmental Rules, Aquaculture Bills Moving
bills are expected to be heard in committees this week as both chambers
work toward the crossover deadline on Thursday.
The House is
expected to try and settle on requirements for coordination
requirements with the state’s new Military Affairs Commission by
developers of wind energy projects. The issue was the subject of a
protracted disagreement between the House and Senate last year. The
House Energy and Public Utilities Committee is scheduled to take up a
compromise, House Bill 574, on Wednesday.
Up for a vote in the House on Monday is House Bill 56, Amend Environmental Laws, co-sponsored by Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret.
The bill updates
the state’s underground storage tank program, tightens wastewater spill
reporting requirements and strikes a requirement that the Department of
Environmental Quality draft a statewide water resources plan. It would
also allow the Coastal Resources Commission to delegate the power to
review county land use plans to a qualified DEQ employee.
environmental bill that’s already cleared the crossover deadline is
this year’s edition of the regulatory reform bills passed each year
since 2011. A final version was never voted on last year and several
provisions from the 2016 bill, including provision on shoal sands
dredging and sandbag rules, have been rolled into the 2017 version.
versions of the bill have cleared both chambers, but last week the
Senate voted down the version passed by the House, setting up a
conference committee to settle differences.
On Thursday, the Senate Agriculture, Natural and Economic Resources Committee approved Senate Bill 410,
the Marine Aquaculture Development Act, sponsored by Sens. Bill Cook,
Norm Sanderson and Jerry Tillman. The bill is intended to create a
permitting system for marine aquaculture in state and federal waters
off North Carolina and gives the Division of Marine Fisheries
authorization to work with federal agencies and fishery councils to
develop a plan for developing and regulating operations.
It’s to add
transparency requirements for the Marine Fisheries Commission requiring
all members to have official email accounts and specifies that those
accounts are public records and that any email exchange between a
quorum of the council constitutes a public meeting.
The bill also
makes several adjustments to the shellfish leasing program and
standards for water column leasing as well as creating a new
misdemeanor for poaching in leased areas.
Last week, several House leaders, including New Hanover County Rep. Ted Davis, introduced House Bill 867,
the Coastal Fisheries Conservation and Economic Development Act. The
bill amends statues on the Marine Fisheries Commission, expanding the
powers of the commission to include enacting rules on commercial and
recreational fisheries and authorizing agreements for law enforcement
Another bill, Senate Bill 545,
introduced by Reps. Beverly Boswell, R-Dare, Chris Millis, R-Pender,
and Larry Pittman, R-Cabbarus, also deals with the powers of the Marine
Fisheries Commission, adding requirements on the board’s use of input
from public advisory committees.
Sunset Beach De-Annexation One of Several Pending Local Bills
Several local bills are also under consideration, including another Sunset Beach De-annexation bill, Senate Bill 289, which is scheduled to be heard in the Senate’s State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday.
Last year, a
similar bill that included two island properties and one mainland
property, stalled after it was strongly opposed by town officials. The
new bill, sponsored by Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, includes only the
Other local bills include:
- House Bill 459, Carteret Sales Tax for Dredging
— Allows Carteret County to use a quarter-cent sale tax for dredging
and waterway maintenance if approved by voters in a referendum and sets
a threshold on the amount collected. The bill follows the defeat of a
sales tax referendum in the county last year. Introduced by Rep.
- Senate Bill 76, Permit Nighttime Hunting of Coyotes — repeals the ban on nighttime hunting in Beaufort, Dare, Tyrell and Washington counties. Introduced by Sen. Cook;
- House Bill 531, Dare County Local Tax Clarification
— Allows Dare County additional flexibility to spend a portion of
occupancy tax proceeds “to respond to burdens associated with the
impact of tourism in peak season on the county, including increasing
traffic control, police, lifeguard, and sanitation crew personnel.”
Introduced by Rep. Boswell.