Under the Dome

Omnibus regulatory reform bill gets OK in Senate

An omnibus regulatory reform bill that would address environmental regulations, city ordinances, wages and other areas of government passed the bill Friday in a 26-7 vote.

Several senators raised concerns with portions of the 60-provision bill, House Bill 74.

“It would prohibit livable wage ordinances by communities,” said Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Durham Democrat. “Overall there are some good portions (in the bill), but some portions give me very deep concerns.”

Currently, municipalities and counties can set their own local, living wage ordinances, which can be tailored to meet community needs.

One provision, which would stop counties and municipalities from phasing out billboard signs in their communities, has been opposed by the League of Municipalities for giving local governments less independence in deciding how they want to deal with outdoor advertising. But the bill was amended earlier in the session: It won’t erase laws regarding billboards already in place. The industry supports the provision because it would allow sign owners to replace their property when it falls into disrepair.

Another provision goes back to the hot-button issue of fracking. Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, a Chapel Hill Democrat, said that fracking companies should release the formula for the chemicals they use in the fracking process.

“It’s not right to jeopardize the drinking water without having knowledge of what’s in these chemicals,” she said.

But Sen. Brent Jackson, an Autryville Republican, said that the state does not need to possess these companies’ trade secrets. Knowledge of the chemicals is enough to ensure safety. “This is a similar method that’s been used in other places, and this is a consensus point,” he said. “The fear mongering…of the radical environmentalists on this point is just not founded.”

The bill will be sent to the House for concurrence.

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