GenX: New Hanover County Commissioners Split on HB 56

Sep 25, 2017

The New Hanover County Commissioners are split along party lines over House Bill 56. And they’re going public with that split.  The bill contains $435,000 in extra funding for the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and UNC Wilmington to study, clean up, and monitor the chemical GenX.

Governor Roy Cooper vetoed it last week, saying the money was nowhere near the $2.6 million that he requested for two state agencies to work on the GenX issue. 

WHQR has a look at the official county positions.

The majority, that would be Republicans Woody White, Skip Watkins and Patricia Kusek, sent out a statement Monday showing support for the bill that Governor Cooper vetoed last week.

Shortly thereafter, the county sent out a statement from the other two commissioners, Democrats Jonathan Barfield and Rob Zapple, supporting the veto of that bill.

Rob Zapple.

“HB 56 just became this catch-all bill that I don’t believe serves the community. What would serve the community again would be pull apart each one of these issues and let there be a stand-alone debate and figure out what is best for our residents.”

County Commissioner Woody White admits the bill isn’t perfect … “But what it does do in the short-term is put money here in our community immediately in research facilities at UNCW and at CFPUA, in order to fast-track solutions to our drinking water crisis here in our region.”

The General Assembly has not acted on the governor’s request for $2.6 million to support the Department of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services.

The Assembly reconvenes October 4, where the Republican majority will attempt to override the veto of House Bill 56.

Note: Rob Zapple is a member of WHQR’s governing board -- Friends of Public Radio.