Last week at the North Carolina General Assembly we passed a major clean water bill in the House of Representatives, we had several oversight committees, including Transportation, and I opened the first local District Office in memory by a State Representative in Brunswick County.
On Wednesday of last week, the General Assembly, both House and Senate, convened at noon for a short special session. We approved some of the Governor’s appointments and Speaker’s appointments, and passed House Bill 189 – Short-Term Response to Emerging Contaminants.
House Bill 189 is the bill I outlined last week that requires the Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the School of Govt. at UNC – Chapel Hill to report back to the House Select Committee on NC River Water Quality on several issues by April 1st. It also added appropriations totaling over $2 million for equipment and personnel to specifically analyze river water quality faster and more accurately. The bill passed the House by a vote of 116-0 Wednesday night, but has not yet been taken up by the Senate. If the Senate passes it, we expect the Governor will sign it immediately.
This is a good first step in a process that will be ongoing to help solve issues that have accumulated over decades with our rivers, and the lack of monitoring and enforcement we have experienced. Expect more action in the short session beginning in May from the River Quality Committee, including Senior Chairman Ted Davis and Chairs Holly Grange and Frank Iler.
Thursday morning was the meeting of the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee, of which I am a Chairman. Senator Jim Davis was chairing and we took up a range of reports from NCDOT. Included were the DOT medical review program, streamlining of pre-construction activities, funding of railroad safety projects, and consolidation of regional transit systems. This is always an informative meeting and vital to us as we budget for DOT during our sessions.
The good news is that I can spend more time in the district. Even better news is that last week I was able to open a District Office on Main Street in Shallotte. I am very accessible to meet with people in the district, and since I live in Oak Island we hope having the office in Shallotte will encourage citizens to contact me and our volunteers on both sides of the district. Beginning office hours are Tuesday and Thursday, 10:00 – 2:00, Saturday 10:00 – 1:00, and otherwise by appointment. It is located at 4745 Main Street, Shallotte (next to the purple church). Citizens can request a meeting there with me, check their voter registration, register to vote, and get other information on what we are doing in the legislature. The hours may be expanded, and we will be putting out more information to raise awareness of the office.