In House Bill 1011 (Government Reform and Reorganization Act). the boards and commission reorganization bill rises and walks again. An earlier bill, Senate Bill 10, died when the House refused to adopt compromise language negotiated with the Senate. The new bill came out of the House Rules Committee last week and quickly passed on the House floor. Changes to the environmental commissions:
Coastal Resources Commission
— Reduces the number of CRC members from 15 to 13; nine members would be appointed by the Governor and four by legislative leaders
— Eliminates one at-large seat and the seat on the CRC currently designated for a representative of a state or national conservation organization.
— Limits the number of CRC members who receive income from real estate development or construction. Seven of thirteen seats on the CRC would have to be filled by individuals “who do not derive any significant portion of their income from land development, construction, real estate sales, or lobbying and do not otherwise serve as agents for development related business activities”.
— Requires that all CRC members be N.C. residents and either reside or own property in the coastal area
— Makes the transition to new appointees in two steps. The bill would end the terms of all CRC members on June 30, 2013 with the exception of the four members who have existing terms ending June 30, 2014. Those four members are now in seats designated for commercial fishing, wildlife or sports fishing, local government and one of the three at-large seats.
Environmental Management Commission
— Reduces the number of EMC members to 15; nine members would be appointed by the Governor and six by legislative leadership.
— The bill keeps most of the categories for appointment to the EMC that appear in the existing statute (although in some cases, the number of EMC members in a given category may be reduced or categories have been combined). The bill eliminates the seat currently designated for a member with public health experience and the seat for a member with experience in local government pollution control activities.
— The terms of all current EMC members would end on June 30, 2013. Eight new members will initially be appointed to two year terms and the remaining seven members to four year terms (to stagger the terms). After the first set of new appointments, all members will be appointed to serve four-year terms.
The bill also removes conflict of interest language in the EMC appointment statute. See N.C. General Statute 143B-283(c). Both the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act have conflict of interest standards for members of state boards and commissions with authority to issue federal permits. Under N.C. law, the EMC has both air quality and water quality permitting authority. Although the commission has delegated most permit decisions to DENR, the EMC still makes some permit and enforcement decisions (such as approval of major variances and civil penalty remissions requests.) To have — and keep — delegated permitting authority, North Carolina must meet the federal conflict of interest standards. The sentence to be repealed closely tracks federal Clean Air Act language requiring any state commission that approves permits or enforcement orders to have a majority of members who “represent the public interest and do not derive any significant portion of their income from persons subject to permits or enforcement orders under [the delegated air quality permitting program]”. An effort to amend the bill on the House floor to reinstate the conflict of interest language failed.
Wildlife Resources Commission
— Shortens the term for Governor’s appointees to the WRC from six years to four years. (Members appointed on the recommendation of legislative leadership will continue to serve two-year terms.)
— The terms of all current WRC members would end on June 30, 2013.
— About one-half of the Governor’s new appointees would be appointed to two-year terms and the remainder to four-year terms (to create staggered terms). After the initial appointments, all Governor’s appointees would be appointed to four-year terms.