RALEIGH The legislature wrapped up a highly charged session on Friday morning as the House debated a handful of bills including a sweeping overhaul of environmental regulations that Gov. Pat McCrory expressed concerns about just hours later.
McCrory, speaking to reporters at a news conference about the session, cast some doubt on the future of the bill but would not say whether he would veto it.
“All options are open,” he said.
House Bill 74 is a 68-page bill that includes dozens of other provisions ranging from the number of meals a bed-and-breakfast can serve to a requirement for carbon monoxide detectors at hotels.
McCrory mentioned specific concerns about changes to regulations for landfills and billboards.
But the bill’s supporters said it was needed to encourage economic activity.
“It represents true regulatory reform, which we hope will encourage more jobs and better customer service for those who want to develop their property,” said Rep. Pat McElraft, an Emerald Isle Republican. “We’ve had overregulation in this state for years. This is just the continuing process of correcting that injustice.”
Provisions that targeted the environment caused swarms of environmental lobbyists to descend on the Legislative Building in the final days of session.
During the floor debate Thursday night, lawmakers found things to love and to hate in the act.
Breaking down billboards
If McCrory signs the bill, outdoor advertising companies will be able to cut more foliage from around billboards located along highway ramps. Municipalities and counties generally like to make their own decisions on billboards, but the bill would decrease their ability to keep them off their roadsides.
When he was mayor in Charlotte, McCrory opposed deregulating the billboard industry.
“I felt very strongly that local governments should have local control over billboard industry, and where and how to put up billboards,” he said Friday. “These new regulations again give the state more control” to cut down trees around signs.
He said he will issue an executive order telling the Department of Transportation that before they clear-cut any plants around billboards, they need to get approval from local governments.
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