Yesterday morning the Senate Rules Committee unveiled a committee substitute for SB 10 which would effectively kick off all of the members of several influential commissions, including the Environmental Management Commission, the Coastal Resources Commission, the Utilities Commission, and the Lottery Commission, and then enable the General Assembly and the Governor to appoint new members. Currently members are selected over a period of years, so this move would have the result of enabling the party currently running the General Assembly and occupying the Governor’s office to get rid of those pesky hold-overs appointed by previous governors and legislatures in earlier years. In addition, the new version of SB 10 would reduce the size of several commissions, eliminate others, change the criteria for membership, and alter how members are selected.
This afternoon, the Senate approved SB 10 on second reading, and it’s on tomorrow’s calendar for third reading. Next week it will be in the House. (To read the whole bill, click here.) Here are the details of SB 10:
- The following bodies would be eliminated entirely because they are said to be “duplicative” or “not deemed critical to government operations” or “have met statutory requirements”:
- Dropout Prevention Committee
- Public Funding of Council of State Elections Commission
- Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change
- Dietetics/Nutrition Board and, with it, the licensing of dietitians and nutritionists. (An amendment in the Senate today added back this Board, though with reduced numbers, elimination of an educator in dietetics/nutrition, and termination of all current members.)
- Coastal Resources Commission (establishes policies regarding coastal development in order to protect coastal resources)
- Currently a majority of its members must not earn substantial income from coastal land development activities, and there’s a requirement that most of its members actually live at the coast. Both requirements disappear with SB 10.
- Membership shrinks from 15, all selected by the Governor, to 11, with seven named by the Governor and 4 by the General Assembly.
- Current law requires members to have expertise is a variety of fields, including fishing, marine ecology, agriculture, forestry, and conservation. Those specifics are replaced with more general requirements for the Governor’s appointees: be coastal property owners or experienced in land development, have experience in coastal-related business, have experience in engineering in the coastal area or a marine related science, be connected with local government in the coastal area. There are no requirements put on the legislature’s appointees.
- All current members will be kicked off.
- A provision in current law calling on the Governor to “give due consideration to securing appropriate representation of women and minorities” is deleted.
- Environmental Management Commission (adopts rules for the protection of air and water resources)
- Membership shrinks from 19 to 13, seven named by the Governor and six by the General Assembly. Currently 13 are named by the Governor, six by the GA.
- Currently all of the Governor’s 13 appointees must have specified qualifications. Under S 10, only six would. Lost are a public health person, an agriculturalist, a physician with experience with the health effects of pollution (replaced in S 10 by “a licensed physician”), three members of the public at large interested in water or air pollution control (replaced by “one who shall serve at large”), someone from fish and wildlife, and someone trained in biological or ecological science.
- Gone is a provision requiring a majority of the Commission to be people who do not get their income from entities being regulated by the Commission.
- All current members will be kicked off.
- Industrial Commission (primary responsibility is administering the Workers Compensation program)
- All six members will be kicked off, and the Governor will appoint new members.
- Utilities Commission (regulates power companies and other public utilities, including telephone, natural gas, and water)
- All seven members will be kicked off. As with the current system, the Governor will appoint new commissioners, subject to the approval of the General Assembly.
- State Lottery Commission (supervises the state lottery)
- Terms of the nine current commissioners will be terminated. Selection of new commissioners will be as before – five by the Governor, four by the General Assembly.
- Terms will be reduced from five years to two, with members not serving more than two terms.
This unprecedented move would enable the majority party to gain complete and immediate control over important regulatory agencies, agencies which impact the lives of all North Carolinians. It will also enable businesses and industries being regulated to have control over their own regulation, writing the rules they wish to live by, whether or not those rules are in the best interest of the public, of workers, of our state’s environment.
Contacting your State Legislators
By telephone: All legislative offices can be reached through the legislative switchboard – (919) 733-4111.
By e-mail: Legislative e-mail addresses follow the pattern of <first name dot last email@example.com>. (Example: Speaker Thom Tillis’ address is Thom.Tillis@ncleg.net.) If you have any question about the spelling of your legislator’s name or whether your legislator’s e-mail address uses a nickname, you can confirm addresses at the General Assembly’s web site: www.ncleg.net. Click on “House” or “Senate” and look for Member Lists.
By postal service mail: All legislators can be addressed at: North Carolina General Assembly, Raleigh, NC 27601-1096.
Legisative distrcts have changed following the 2010 census. To find out who your legislators are, go to the General Assembly’s web site: www.ncleg.net. Click on “Who Represents Me?” near the top of the homepage, and follow the directions for using the interactive maps. For those without Internet access, local Boards of Elections can be asked for assistance.
To Contact the Governor
By phone: (919) 733-5811
By Fax: (919) 733-2120
By mail: Governor Pat McCrory
Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301
By e-mail: http://www.governor.nc.gov/contact/email-pat