Public hearing scheduled in Asheville on DOT billboard rules

The N.C. Department of Transportation has scheduled a public hearing in Asheville for Monday, August 13, to take comments on proposed permanent rules for vegetation removal at outdoor advertising locations within highway rights of way. The rules are the result of legislation passed in the 2011 session of the N.C. General Assembly, allowing a significant increase in the cutting zones around billboards. (photo by Edward Ingle)

MSD awards contract to study impact of potential merger with Asheville water system

The potential merger of the Asheville water system with the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County drew a range of visitors to MSD’s River Road office site Wednesday afternoon for its July board meeting. Some two dozen audience seats were filled with consultants, staff, members of the public, and one county legislator as discussion of the water system took center stage.

The little bill that could, couldn’t, might or might not

On May 17, 2012, a bill modestly titled “MSD Amendments” was introduced in the final regular session of the N.C. General Assembly. Sponsored by Western North Carolina Reps. Tim Moffitt (Buncombe County) and Chuck McGrady (Henderson County), both Republicans, the bill passed the House on June 18 and received Senate approval on June 27, moving to the governor’s desk on June 28. The true meaning of that bill is a matter of some history, some speculation, some objection and a fair amount of outright praise.

Progress Energy’s new merger with Duke Energy now under scrutiny from attorney general

Both the North Carolina attorney general and the N.C. Utilities Commission have opened their own investigations into questions concerning the surprise departure of former Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson immediately following the merger of his former company with the larger Duke Energy. The merger had been premised, during deliberations, on Johnson’s becoming the CEO of […]

Senate’s “grown-up” budget plan rejects compensation for state eugenics victims

The N.C. Senate’s budget committee rejected proposals to compensate victims of the former state eugenics program yesterday, along with appropriations for anti-smoking and teen pregnancy programs. The Senate’s proposal is $127 million smaller than the proposed House budget, and was commended by a spokesperson for the conservative John Locke Foundation for being “a grown-up budget.” […]

Sea-level legislation puts N.C. Legislature in national spotlight

Legislation to dictate what scientific data could be considered in forecasting sea-level rise on the North Carolina coast is expected to be introduced in the N.C. General Assembly today. In draft form, the proposal would eliminate all projections other than those based on straight-line historical data — dismissing the one-meter (39 inches) rise predicted by […]

Senate passes fracking bill over Nesbitt’s objection; House expected to ratify today

A contentious bill to allow hydrolic fracturing – or “fracking” – for oil and gas exploration in the state passed the N.C. Senate on Wednesday by a 29-19 majority, and is expected to be voted on today in the House. The Senate vote followed a standing-room-only Commerce Committee hearing on Tuesday, which saw Senate Democratic Leader Martin Nesbitt, Jr., of Buncombe County—speak out against the bill.

Statehouse override procedure faces constituti­onal scrutiny

The N.C. General Assembly convenes tonight for the third week of its 2012 short session. Last week saw some remarkably disparate actions from both inside and outside the Statehouse, having to do with current and past legislation. And one of items on this week’s agenda — a veto override attempt to repeal the Racial Justice Act (SB 9) — is now involved in what may prove to be a landmark lawsuit regarding gubernatorial vetoes.