Legislative Update from Rep. Frank Iler – April 10, 2018

Last week at the North Carolina General Assembly we met in committees or travelled to meetings almost every day, and we welcomed the new super cranes to the Port of Wilmington.

Beginning Monday, I met with the House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and Long Term Funding Solutions.  We heard reports on the economic impacts of transportation infrastructure.  First we heard from Chris Chung, the CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of N.C. on the role of transportation on business recruitment and site development.  Then the President of the NC Railroad Company, Scott Saylor, updated us on their economic development and strategies.  Director of the Aviation Division of NCDOT, Bobby Walston, presented the connection of airport infrastructure and economic development.  These presentations help us as we look at the budget adjustments in May and June to know if the investments we are making in transportation infrastructure are helping to develop our state’s economy, as well as continue the mobility and safety goals for NC’s citizens.  We then heard some legislative proposals from NCDOT for the short session.

After returning to the county Tuesday, Wednesday morning saw an interesting side trip in Wilmington.  The two super cranes that had arrived from China the previous week were being installed on the docks. About 15 stories tall, they will extend to almost 450 feet when the booms are raised.  They will handle the new classes of container ships that are coming through the Panama Canal by extending across 4 more rows of containers and 10 levels above deck.  This is 3 more levels above deck than the existing cranes could have handled.  The new ships can carry containers stacked 10 levels below deck and 10 levels above deck.  House Speaker Tim Moore and other representatives were there to observe and learn about the economic impact of doubling our volume of containers of export and import goods.

Heading from Wilmington to Raleigh after the port tour, I was in a key meeting of the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee early Thursday morning.  As a chairman of this committee, I believe we get more good information for the House and Senate transportation chairs from this committee than from many other sources.  We heard an extensive presentation on dredging our coastal waters as it relates to the ferries, the shallow draft inlets and the navigation channels.  We also heard presentations from the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Dept. of Revenue (DOR), and the Global Transpark (GTP).  A lot of good information was presented on existing challenges, as well as future plans.  Our committee final report was adopted, as it was the committee’s last meeting before the short session, which begins May 16th.

A full week of focusing on transportation was interesting.  However, I am extremely interested next week on the next meeting of the House Select Committee on School Safety.