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5:39 am
Mon March 4, 2013

NC House to attempt another go at boards and commissions bill

Tonight the North Carolina House of Representatives will vote again on Senate Bill 10. The bill has made partisan waves and put House Republicans at odds with Senate Republicans. The bill eliminates several boards and commissions, and significantly cuts into term limits for current members. Board continuity is a major concern of both opponents and supporters.

Last Thursday, House Democrats and some Republicans were surprised at how quickly a new version of the bill came out of the House Rules Committee for a vote. Democratic Representative Susi Hamilton introduced an amendment proposing cuts to utilities commission salaries from about $120,000 dollars to $80,000 dollars. A motion passed to table that amendment, which removed it from both House discussion the legislative record.voted against the bill and says it feels like a house cleaning, which is not good for regulation.

“What we want out of these regulatory issues is certainty and continuity, and consistency. For instance, with the utilities commission, this utilities commission as it stands today is in the middle of a major rate review process and they’ve gone all over the state of North Carolina. Once these people are gone, that knowledge that they gained from listening to the citizens across the state is gone with them. And that’s not responsible.” 

Republican Representative Rick Catlin says the bill’s been in the works for weeks, so its pace wasn’t shocking to him. But he says he’s not entirely happy with the bill, the way it cuts existing institutional knowledge all at one time. Knowing it would pass, he says he did what he could do to improve it. Catlin introduced two amendments he says strengthen environmental protection, and both of those passed. He says the new House version isn’t as destructive to existing boards as the Senate’s version.

“The one thing people need to realize is that 60 percent, at least on the boards I that researched, of the appointees were going to be re-appointed by the summer of next year anyway. So, it’s not going to make that much difference. They were able to keep the continuity, the phase-ins that we’ve got in the House version. In the Senate version it was going to be one fell swoop.” 

The bill will most likely pass tonight in the House, although the next battle is what happens in Senate.