Raleigh – A deeper look into HB 56, which makes funding to address a pressing public health issue contingent on repealing a popular environmental bill, raises serious questions about who it’s actually meant to serve – Cape Fear residents or local politicians like Sen. Michael Lee and Rep. Ted Davis. Consider how HB 56:
- Offers just $435,000 – a drop in the bucket compared to what’s actually needed;
- Funds the local utility who failed to alert the public to the threat of Gen X instead of the state environmental regulator best positioned to help the entire area;
- Comes at the 11th hour as legislators like Sen. Lee head back home to explain to their constituents what’re they’re doing in Raleigh.
Add in that Cape Fear legislators had no answer when asked at a press conference today why they hadn’t funded the governor’s request and it’s clear that HB 56 is nothing more than political cover for Cape Fear-area Republicans as they head back to face frustrated constituents.
At a recent Environmental Review Commission hearing, frustrated constituents chastised Cape Fear-area Republicans for cutting DEQ funding and for being slow to act. “You, you, you, you — all of you had a hand in this,” resident Daniel Zielinski told lawmakers, including Sen. Lee and Rep. Davis. Other residents echoed that frustration and overwhelmingly said they would rather the General Assembly fund Gov. Cooper’s proposal than give funding for GenX to the local utility.
As Cape Fear-Republicans head back home to again face their constituents, they now have some political cover to claim they’re addressing this issue. Unfortunately for their constituents, that’s all they’re bringing home – political cover for themselves, not serious actions needed to fix this issue.
“The General Assembly yet again has failed to offer concrete solutions, choosing instead to give Senator Lee and Cape Fear Republicans political cover as they head back home,” NCDP Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds said. “If they were serious about addressing this issue, they would fully fund DEQ and DHHS, like so many of their constituents have asked them to do.”