- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 10, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Latest on the North Carolina legislature reconvening its session (all times local):

7:35 p.m.

Don’t expect the North Carolina Senate to soon go along with legislation approved by the House designed to study further unregulated chemicals in drinking water and give state officials more funds for water testing and permitting.

Senate leader Phil Berger said Wednesday night his chamber likely will wait until the next scheduled session in May to act further. The General Assembly already approved laws related to GenX in August and October. Berger says legislators are awaiting more data about the amount of GenX in the Cape Fear River.

Berger says the House bill “does nothing to prevent GenX from going into the water supply” and forces taxpayers to pay for expenses rather than the Chemours Co., which operates the Bladen County plant that discharged GenX.

The legislature reconvened Wednesday. Lawmakers will hold perfunctory floor sessions into next week but no votes are scheduled.


6:35 p.m.

The state House has approved a bill addressing further unregulated chemicals like GenX found in North Carolina rivers and giving money to regulators to help with permitting and water testing. But it’s unclear what the Senate will do with it.

The House voted unanimously Wednesday for the measure, which also got support from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration. Almost half of the $2.3 million also would go to purchase, maintain and operate a spectrometer that would help state officials find chemicals in waters.

The measure now goes to the Senate, which adjourned essentially until next week even before the House approved the measure. Bill sponsor Rep. Ted Davis of Wilmington said he’s disappointed by that move but remains hopeful it will become law.

This short legislative work session is expected to remain open until at least the end of next week, but no additional votes are currently planned.


3:55 p.m.

There won’t be agreement this week at the General Assembly on whether to take more action or spend more money to better understand and curb unregulated chemicals in North Carolina’s drinking water supplies.

The Senate adjourned their session Wednesday afternoon and won’t return to work until at least early next week. That means a House measure expected on the chamber floor later in the day designed to direct more study about contaminants and environmental permitting couldn’t go further until the Senate comes back.

The legislation is in response to the disclosure last year that the chemical GenX had been discharged into the Cape Fear River - Wilmington’s primary drinking-water supply - for decades. Two key Wilmington-area senators - Bill Rabon and Michael Lee - said Wednesday they hadn’t seen specifics of the House measure. Lee said a law approved in the fall is already addressing permitting issues.


1:20 p.m.

North Carolina legislators returning to Raleigh for what’s expected to be an abbreviated special session have been greeted by hundreds of demonstrators telling them not to include judicial redistricting or ending head-to-head judicial elections in their work agenda.

A coalition of liberal-leaning groups held a “Fair Courts Day of Action” as the General Assembly officially resumed work Wednesday. They gathered across the street from the Legislative Building holding placards and listening to speakers before attending the House and Senate opening meetings.

The demonstrators are worried about GOP proposals they say will make the courts more political and give the legislature more control over who gets judgeships. Former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson said the courts should be “as free as we can make them from partisan politics.”

House Democrats said at a separate news conference that Republican proposals are tainted and that any changes need bipartisan buy-in.


2:30 a.m.

The North Carolina legislature is meeting for the first time in nearly three months, with lawmakers aiming to pass laws addressing water quality and approving appointments to state boards and commissions.

The General Assembly reconvenes its session at midday Wednesday, with work initially expected to last only one day. But there’s talk that they will leave the session officially open for the next week or two in case they must redraw legislative districts or if the House and Senate reach a deal on judicial reforms.

The drinking water legislation expected before a House committee Wednesday is in response to the chemical GenX being discharged into the Cape Fear River.

Demonstrators against Republican efforts to approve judicial changes also were expected to rally Wednesday at the Legislative Building.

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