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District 17 House update

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By Rep. Frank Iler

Guest Columnist

It was as hot and steamy in Raleigh this past week, as it was the week before. This was the weather, as well as the activity in the General Assembly. The temperature in Raleigh is always hotter than our Brunswick beaches. I’m always kidding my colleagues there about not having any sea breezes to cool things down.
As for the General Assembly, the House budget had been sent June 13 to the Senate. They voted not to concur with it June 16. Rumors were flying around as to which budget would emerge once the conference committees started meeting to work out the differences. The Senate appointed its conferees June 18 and the House appointed theirs Thursday, June 19. They could start meeting at that point to work out the final budget, which both houses will have to approve in the end. The governor will also have to approve and sign the final budget, or he could decide to veto it.
While all this budget conversation was going on in the halls of the General Assembly and in the media, we continued to work in the House to get as many bills as possible through our committees and onto the floor for votes. All the policy committees were meeting, so we had important bills in education, regulatory reform, elections, environment, and transportation. Transportation is the committee that I chair, and we had scheduled four bills to be heard. Because of lengthy debate, the only bill we were able to vote out of the committee was the “moped bill.”
House Bill 1145, Registration Required for Mopeds has been changed many times since its introduction in May. A similar bill has come up in every session in recent years and failed to get enough support to pass. This time, the bill requires only registration of the light motorized vehicles, and only requires a study of the possible insurance implications for the future. The Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee will get data on accidents and liability concerns and determine if further legislation is needed. House Bill 1145 passed the House on Thursday, June 19, with a bipartisan split vote of 83-29.
An important bill for the coastal region came to the Environment Committee and the House floor. It is Senate Bill 38, Amend Environmental Laws 2014. In the committee, we had some concerns with a provision that reorganized the Marine Fisheries Commission. Rep. Chris Millis, R-Hampstead, sponsored an amendment that took that provision out of the bill. He and I both thought that more study is needed before the changes in this provision are made. I spoke for it and it passed with a strong vote. On the House floor, there was much debate over this bill. There were several amendments to change it, and it passed with a bipartisan vote of 105-12. There are several provisions that impact the coast. They concern isolated wetlands, as well as oyster beds. Rep. Millis and I both thought marine fisheries needed more study before making changes.
Many local bills are coming up for votes. One is a bill to allow Bald Head Island to expand its mail service through its contract post office. It was to be in the Government Committee on Monday, June 23. It should pass easily in committee and on the floor. It is a senate bill sponsored by Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Southport, and is identical to one I sponsored on the House side. Usually, whichever bill crosses over to the other house first is the one we go with.
There are so many bills of interest coming through that it is impossible to discuss them all in this weekly article. For more information, go to the General Assembly website at www.ncleg.net.

Rep. Frank Iler, R-Oak Island, represents Brunswick County in the North Carolina House of Representatives and faces Democrat Charles Warren in November’s general election. He can be reached in Raleigh at (919) 301-1450 or Frank.Iler@ncleg.net.