Politics & Government
8:36 am
Thu June 5, 2014

NC General Assembly Summary: Wednesday, June 4

Photo: Gov. Pat McCrory signing the Energy Modernization Act at NC State University's College of Engineering building.
Gov. Pat McCrory signing the Energy Modernization Act at NC State University's College of Engineering building.
Credit Jorge Valencia

It was a busy day in state government. Gov. Pat McCrory signed a much-anticipated and much-debated law that will allow natural gas mining companies to start drilling in the state next year, the Senate returned to the Capitol since finalizing the chamber’s budget proposal just past midnight on Saturday, and the national Common Core standards are continuing to unravel. Here’s a digest of the day in government:

Fracking In NC

On the campus of NC State University, McCrory signed the Energy Modernization Act, which will allow the state to start issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as early as Many 2015.

"We're going to unleash the resources of North Carolina,” McCrory said. “And produce jobs in North Carolina, and help our country become energy independent."

This legislation has been controversial because of environmental and health risks related to fracking. Members of the General Assembly will go over rules that will govern the industry before drilling permits are issued.

NC Department Of Commerce

In the Legislative Building, a committee in the House of Representatives has approved a bill that would move to a non-profit organization, the state’s efforts of recruiting jobs and tourism. Representative Tom Murry, a Republican from Wake County, says the non-profit will get tax-payer funding, but will have to raise two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand dollars first.

"The $250 is what I would like to call seed money,” Murry said. “That's basic operations. If they don't have a quarter million dollars in the bank, I don't see how this thing's going to operate."

A Senate committee is considering a similar bill this morning.

Common Core And Prayer In Schools

In education, the national Common Core standards for public schools are unraveling. Committees in the House and Senate are recommending that the state write its own standards for student performance.

Also in education, the House passed a bill that would allow teachers to participate in student-led prayers. Opponents say it could open schools to lawsuits ... but the bill passed with overwhelming support in a 106 to 9 vote.

And the House passed a bill that would allow teachers to participate in student-led prayers. Opponents say it could open schools to lawsuits ... but the bill passed with overwhelming support in a 106-9 vote.

Lastly, it was pretty crowded in the legislative hallways. Visitors to the building said they were taking time off work or school to lobby lawmakers on driving permits for undocumented immigrants, coal ash clean up and Medicaid.

Look ahead: The House is expected to continue working on its budget proposal this week, and to vote on it next week. And the Senate will hold the first hearing of the short legislative session on how to clean up Duke Energy’s 32 coal ash ponds across North Carolina, one of which spilled an estimated 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River in February.