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2014 voters would decide on state eminent domain amendment

A proposed North Carolina constitutional amendment would ask voters in the 2014 election to restrict eminent domain. The bill carrying the amendment passed the House on Wednesday in a 103-10 vote.

Originally House Bill 8, the legislation stopped moving after landing in a committee in April. Its contents were added to a Senate boating safety bill so it would have a chance of becoming law this session. Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Hendersonville Republican and the House bill’s sponsor, said the text hadn't changed substantially. Rep. Paul Stam, an Apex Republican, added an amendment updating the technology referenced. The amendment has passed the House before but stalled in the Senate, and could do so again.

Wetlands protection rollback removed from bill

A controversial measure that would roll back some wetlands protections was removed from a farm bill approved in a House committee on Wednesday.

The provision originally would have removed the current requirement that development and other uses in wetlands that are not under federal jurisdiction obtain water quality permits. The N.C. Home Builders Association supported that change, arguing the requirement to obtain a permit from the state Environmental Management Commission exceeds federal requirements and is therefore in conflict with a law enacted last session.

Environmental organizations argue the protections are needed because many wetlands, although they might appear isolated from significant waterways, are vital components of regional water systems. They contend court rulings and federal decisions protect them.

Constitutional amendment on property rights headed to House floor

House lawmakers are reviving an effort to put a constitutional amendment before voters that prohibits governments from taking private property for economic development through eminent domain.

The amendment -- approved by a House committee Wednesday and headed to the full House next -- would appear on the November 2014 ballot. Other provisions would make changes to state law effective upon passage. The House passed a similar version in the previous legislative session by a wide margin but the Senate didn't vote on the legislation.

"It will not stop all eminent domain but it would stop the parts of it that violate the property rights," said Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, an Apex Republican.

Republicans labeled by gun rights supporters as 'weasels'

It's not often you see House GOP leader Paul "Skip" Stam being lampooned by conservatives.

But Grass Roots North Carolina, a political advocacy group that favors looser gun laws, is labeling Stam, Republican state Rep. Chuck McGrady and former GOP state lawmaker David Guice as "the three weasels of the North Carolina House."

The group charges that the "anti-gun" lawmakers didn't do enough to ensure gun rights in North Carolina -- and organizers are promising retribution in the 2012 election.

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