Lawmakers set to begin short session Wednesday in Raleigh

Lawmakers statewide are set to converge on Raleigh again when the N.C. General Assembly reconvenes Wednesday for short session.

While the short session traditionally focuses on budget discussions, local representatives said some other issues are more than likely to surface.

“I was told — we were all told — that nothing happens in short session but tweaking,” said N.C. Rep. Carl Ford, R-Cabarrus. “There is more to it than that. Sometimes, I’ve seen pretty big bills slip through.”

Ford said he doesn’t think anything controversial will come up in the short session as a lot of lawmakers are looking to move on and hit the campaign trail.

“There may be something coming up with coal ash, and I’m almost positive Common Core will come up,” Ford said.

Even when Democrats controlled the N.C. General Assembly, Ford said the short session still entailed more than just talks on the state budget.

“I always look forward to see what is going to happen and what we are going to do with this budget,” Ford said. “There has been a shortfall in some areas while there has been an uptick in other areas.”

N.C. Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, said lawmakers have been working on several issues during the interim.

As co-chairman of the legislature’s agriculture, environment and natural resources committee, Brock said he has been working with a lot of agriculture bills in addition to trying to get state parks and tourism agencies to pull together their resources and work more in concert.

Two of the biggest issues that will be addressed in the short session are shale gas exploration in the state and regulatory reform, Brock said.

“This will be regulatory reform number four,” Brock said. “A lot of what we uncover doesn’t make sense.”

Energy codes have been put in place regarding “science that doesn’t event exist yet,” Brock said.

“There are also common sense issues out there, like streamlining the permitting process,” Brock said. “Both businesses and government are getting frustrated.”

The state has some of the most stringent regulations on drilling when it comes to fracking, Brock said.

Brock said the regulations are tighter than anywhere else in the country.

“I’m looking forward to serving my constituents. I like helping people and getting things done. On coal ash, we’ve been working on it day in and day out,” Brock said. “Duke Energy has been really good corporate citizens, and I told them ‘I know you’re going to do the right thing.’ If not, we’re going to come down on (them) like a hammer.”

N.C. Rep. Harry Warren, R-Rowan, said legislators will discuss the teacher compensation package Gov. Pat McCrory has proposed.

“That will have to come to the (N.C. General) Assembly. A lot of ideas will be shared. We will address teacher compensation and budget tweaks that might need to be made,” Warren said.

Other issues or bills coming before the legislature will depend on the magnitude of the subject matter they address, Warren said.

“Coal ash will come up, but I’m not sure if there will be a total fix in the short session. I think some preliminary legislation may be passed,” Warren said. “In the long session, we may see something with Duke (Energy).”

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