Under the Dome

Dome: Virginia leaders want McCrory to block landfill bill

Staff writersJuly 10, 2013 

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, is asking the federal government to examine a bill moving in the N.C. General Assembly that would allow a large landfill near the state border.

Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes, a Republican, recently made an appeal to Gov. Pat McCrory to stop Senate Bill 328. The measure reverses restrictions lawmakers put in place in 2007 to prevent what critics call mega-dumps from being located in northeastern North Carolina.

McCrory’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources supports the bill, but the governor is not yet completely on board. The Senate approved the bill in late June, but the House has not yet touched it.

It is sitting in the environment committee, and House committees are expected to conclude work after this week.

The issue is attracting so much attention the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent a letter June 19 to DENR Secretary John Skvarla emphasizing the importance of the existing five-mile buffer between national wildlife refuges and landfills.

In Kaine’s letter, dated June 27, he asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to examine the legislation. He said he is concerned that a landfill near Chesapeake, Va., proposed by Black Bear Disposal would threaten the local drinking water, the Great Dismal Swamp refuge and U.S. Navy operations.

Forbes’ July 9 letter to McCrory is the most direct appeal. He cites similar concerns but emphasizes his role as chairman of a House Armed Services subcommittee and discusses the impact on the Navy. He copied it to N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger.

He wrote: “I am requesting that the North Carolina General Assembly take care to ensure against irreparable unintended outcomes to military missions, the region’s economy, water supplies and natural resources.”

Running mate amendment

The House agreed Wednesday to study the idea of governors and lieutenant governors running together as a ticket.

The measure would ensure that if a governor died or was removed from office, he or she would be replaced by a lieutenant governor of the same party.

Rep. Bert Jones, a Republican from Reidsville, said that governors and lieutenant governors now run as tickets in 26 states, just as the president and vice president do. He is proposing a legislative study committee to examine the question. If approved by the legislature, the issue would be submitted to voters for approval as a constitutional amendment in 2014.

N.C. business rating drops

McCrory and the GOP legislature came into office promising a more friendly business environment, and it may be unfair to expect results this soon. But so far, their efforts are not showing up in the ratings.

North Carolina was rated as the 12th most competitive state for businesses in 2013, according to a new survey by CNBC.

Although the survey was released this week, it was based on 2012 data, before McCrory took office. But the Republican legislature had been in office for two years.

This year’s ratings are a significant drop from 2012, when North Carolina was rated as the fourth most competitive state for business. North Carolina dropped this year because it fell in its ratings in the cost of doing business to 32nd and in quality of life to 30th. Only the states of New Hampshire, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Maryland had larger drops.

Staff writers John Frank and Rob Christensen

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