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Legislators Override Governor's Two Vetoes

Lawmakers returned to Raleigh this week and made short work of overriding Gov. Pat McCrory's vetoes of two bills. On Tuesday, the House voted to override the vetoes of HB 392 Warrant Status/Drug Screen Public Assist. and HB 786 RECLAIM NC Act, and the Senate followed suit Wednesday morning. Gov. McCrory had expressed concerns with requirements in HB 392 that applicants for certain welfare programs undergo drug testing and criminal background checks, and with a provision in HB 786 extending the amount of time an employee could work before undergoing a background check through the E-Verify system. Following the veto override votes, lawmakers again voted to adjourn until May 14 of next year. For more on the votes, see here.
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Gov. McCrory Responds to Veto Overrides

Gov. McCrory responded quickly to his vetoes being overridden, releasing a lengthy statement Wednesday indicating he would not pursue drug testing for welfare applicants until the General Assembly provided funding, and saying he would "explore all legal and executive authority to ensure the letter and spirit of our nation's immigration law is followed in this state." Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger responded by saying he expected Gov. McCrory to enforce the law (see here from WRAL, and here from the Charlotte Observer). Gov. McCrory also drew some controversy on Wednesday by saying that furniture manufacturers in High Point were pushing for HB 786 so they could hire illegal immigrants.
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Override of HB 786 Means E-Verify Requirements for City Contractors, Effective Immediately

One of the provisions of HB 786, which is now law following the legislature's veto override vote, applies E-Verify requirements to "all city and county contracts, as well as all formal purchase and construction and repair contracts let by any public entity." Norma Houston of the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill has written a blog post detailing the precise impact of this new law. Click here to read about the immediate effects of this legislation on city and county government operations.
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Charlotte Airport Commission Appointments Made

While there continue to be questions about whether control of Charlotte Douglas International Airport will be transferred from the City of Charlotte to a newly-established airport commission, appointments to that commission have already been made. The Charlotte Observer reports that Gaston and Iredell counties have already appointed their representatives to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport Commission, while Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and Union counties have solicited applications. Legislators have also made appointments to an oversight committee. Meanwhile, the decision over whether the Commission will take control of the airport is in the hands of the Federal Aviation Administration, and Commission supporters continue to lobby the FAA for approval.
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Commission Considers Alternatives to Injection of Fracking Fluid

A committee of the N.C. Mining & Energy Commission continued its consideration of methods of fracking fluid waste disposal yesterday, with committee members reiterating their preference for reuse of the fluids over injection into coastal aquifers or treatment by municipal wastewater treatment plants. The committee has responsibility for writing the rules governing disposal of these wastes. It noted that absent further action from the N.C. General Assembly, injection of any wastes into underground aquifers is illegal in the state. The current draft rule under consideration by the committee does not contain provisions regarding underground injection.

At yesterday's meeting, the committee made further revisions to the current waste disposal draft rule, and committee Chair Vikram Rao reviewed a draft white paper that explores various liquid waste disposal options and concludes, "A rule set that in effect requires multiple re-uses, followed by treatment for discharge or other purpose, will not be a deterrent to prospective operators. It will also be the most environmentally responsible option for our state."

Committee members also spent nearly an hour questioning a guest engineer employed by a hydraulic fracturing company in Arkansas on that company's liquid waste disposal procedures. In particular, the committee was interested to learn that the Arkansas operation has approached nearly 100% reuse of its liquid wastes, with the remainder being pretreated on-site before being discharged to surface waters according to a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit the company holds. Further questions about the work of the Mining & Energy Commission can be directed to League Legislative & Regulatory Affairs Manager Erin Wynia.


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Judge to Hear Arguments in Asheville Water Case

As reported in the Asheville Citizen-Times, a Wake County Superior Court Judge will hear arguments today over whether to block the transfer of the City of Asheville's water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County. A temporary restraining order was issued in May, but this injunction blocking the transfer would stay in place for the duration of Asheville's lawsuit challenging the law mandating the transfer. HB 488 Regionalization of Public Utilities (now S.L. 2013-50) was passed in May as a statewide bill that currently only applies to the City of Asheville. The League worked to limit the bill's application during the recent General Assembly session.
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Kimbrell Leaving President Pro Tem's Office

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger announced at the close of Wednesday's Senate session that his general counsel, Tracy Kimbrell, would be leaving his office. She is reportedly headed to the law firm of Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein to work on the firm's government relations and lobbying team. The League has enjoyed working with Tracy over the past few legislative sessions and wishes her all the best in her new endeavor. We look forward to continuing to work with her in the future.
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Raleigh, Goldsboro Receive Transportation Grants

Both the City of Raleigh and the City of Goldsboro were announced as recipients of $10 million TIGER grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation this week. The City of Raleigh's funding will go towards construction of a new regional transit station near downtown. The City of Goldsboro is expected to use its funding to complete construction on several downtown projects.
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League Seeking Nominations for Board, Committee Slots

By now hopefully all of the League's municipal members have received a copy of the League Annual Business Meeting packet. As you can see in the packet, the League is seeking nominations for vacancies in the Second Vice President position, on the Board of Directors, and for the League's Legislative and Regulatory Action Committees. Those seeking to serve in these important positions should either submit their nominations (for Second Vice President and the Board) to the Nominating Committee Chair, Mayor Derryl Garner, by Sept. 27, or complete the enclosed form by Nov. 1 to indicate interest in serving on a League policy committee.