This year’s version of last year’s deregulation bill is moving through the state legislature.
There’s so little difference between the two that sponsor Sen. Andy Wells, a Republican from Hickory, decided to not even change the title despite being in a new session now.
It’s still called the Regulatory Reform Act of 2016, also known as Senate Bill 131.
The legislation was created from a hodgepodge of bills mashed together from the House and the Senate, but the lawmakers ran out of time last session before they could put a final product to a vote of both chambers.
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Wells, in an emailed message to reporters last month, said the bill’s title makes the point that North Carolina is falling behind unless it enacts more than just tax relief.
“No doubt there are those who will say introducing a bill titled The Regulatory Reform Act of 2016 sounds like I’m revisiting past history,” Wells said. “But this bill is about the future. When we cut government regulations we’re giving working families — from Newton to New Bern — more freedom.”
The 19-page bill streamlines or eliminates regulations and reports related to environmental protections.
Environmental groups don’t like the bill any better than they did last year.
Some of the concerns The Sierra Club has includes doubling the amount of development near streams that can be displaced without requiring offsetting improvements elsewhere, potentially allowing erosion-control sandbags to stay in place indefinitely on beaches, and relaxing restrictions on what material can be used for beach nourishment.
The bill passed the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 38-11, mostly along party lines, and now heads to the House.