Fishing for Facts – July 13, 2017
A mini Fishing for Facts this week, as the legislature is out, but there are still things to say!
Members of the General Assembly have gone home for the summer but they will be back before you can say thank goodness. Members will return on at least three separate occasions throughout the off season – August 3rd, September 6th, and November 5. These dates can change and a special session or two can be added because those who make the rules can change the rules.
Why is this information important, you ask? Our primary concern is that all of the anti clean water and clean air bills, known as Regulation Reform Bills, are still alive. This means that we may see the reemergence of bad legislation. Some examples: the repeal of the plastic bag ban which will kill more sea turtles, another attack on riparian buffers, and a bill making it harder for citizens to use the courts to stop pollution. It also is likely the ruling party will seek to override important vetoes that the governor has made, including the veto to block the Aerosolization bill, which would allow the spraying of liquefied landfill waste (we at Sound Rivers have been calling it “garbage juice.”) Read more about this here.
A very important concern about this recess was provided by WRAL: “Although state lawmakers are officially in recess until August, some are still negotiating bills to vote on when they come back, and the interim could prove to be a very profitable break for them. North Carolina law prohibits legislators from accepting campaign donations while they are in session from the people and groups that employ lobbyists to influence them. Because the General Assembly is out of session for more than 10 days, that ban is not in effect right now, meaning they can take checks from groups and industries that might be affected by some of the legislation still pending.”
So, let’s say you’re a business and you want some language in a bill that will remove or weaken a regulation you do not wish to follow. During the recesses campaign contributions that could influence legislation are legal. Since most of these bills will be worked out behind closed doors, out of the public process, it will be hard for the public to know what is going on. This is the subversion of democracy at its finest.
What we need from you is to stay vigilant when OUR elected officials come back to Raleigh. We will be sending emails and Action Alerts – please contact (call AND email) your elected officials. The interest of polluters should not be elevated over the interest of the public for a quick buck.
Remember you can find your elected officials here, http://www.ncleg.net/representation/WhoRepresentsMe.aspx.