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Senate | March 5, 2013 | Committee Room | Agriculture

Full MP3 Audio File

of agriculture. I’d like to introduce our pages today. We have Chandler Evans from Goldsboro, sponsored by Senator Pate. Lisa Stoltz from Matthews, sponsored by Senator Tucker. Audra Daniel from Mornington, sponsored by Senator Daniel, you have my condolences there. And Lady Keenart from Morganton sponsored by Senator Daniel as well, so thank y’all for working with us today and hopefully you’ll have a good time with us. We’d like to thank our Sergeant at Arms for being here today. Thank you for helping us. We’ll jump right into our bills. First bill we’re going to have up. Senator Brown, you wanted 24? Senate Bill 24. We need a motion for a PCS [SPEAKER CHANGES] So moved. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Second. All in favor. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The PCS is in front of you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This bill is basically is really more of a local bill than a state bill, even though I’ve had to run it as a state bill. What it’s referring to is in Jones County and the Township of Maysville. There’s been a process probably for the past year, year and a half, to how the town could develop a C and D landfill and recycling center in the town of Maysville. The hearings and the permitting process and I think even had gotten some grants secured to put the project together, but then found out that a few years ago when we passed a stringent landfill bill, there’s a restriction as it relates to state game land that the landfill would fall within those boundaries. What the bill does, basically, is extend that boundary to where this recycling center and C & D landfill can be constructed in the Maysville township. It’ll generate somewhere around 30 to 40 jobs and for a low wealth county, it’s pretty important. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Rabin. The motion before you from Senator Rabon is unfavorable to the original bill and favorable to the PCS and seconded by Senator Cook. All those in favor. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Opposed? Ayes have it. Next bill. Senate Bill 58. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I don’t have a copy in front of me, but I think I can explain the bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We got a PCS in front of us. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Got a PCS as well. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do we have a motion? Senator Bryan moves for the PCS. All those in favor? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Opposed no? Ayes have it. Senator Brown. [SPEAKER CHANGES] This isn’t a groin bill. It’s a dredging bill. But I think equally important important to the coasts. Anybody that lives on the coast or goes to the coast on vacation, I think understands the importance of the inlets as it relates to tourism and economic value to the coast. The federal government used to provide those dollars for years to keep the shallow draft inlets dredged, but because of their problems, those dollars have pretty much all dried up. What we’ve got now is a situation where we’ve got several shallow draft inlets that basically are filling in and to the point that they’re almost not navigable anymore for any type of boat. If anybody’s ever been in a boat in an inlet, probably the worst situation you could ever be in is to run aground in an inlet. Because I can promise you if that happens there’s a good chance somebody’s probably going to get killed. These inlets are kind of like highways to the coast. It’s an issues on the coast, but I’d say its a state issue because I think no matter where you live, I think you find a way to take that boat to the coast sometime or other to enjoy the waters on the coast and those activities. What I had to do is try to find a revenue source to find dredging dollars to keep those inlets open. I can promise you that I looked at a lot of areas and I’ve tried to find the cleanest way to do this, and I think I have with this bill. Basically what it does is look at registration fees for boats. Presently, right now, it’s a $15 to register a boat and you can register for four years for $40. You get a $5 break if you go for four, for three years and it doesn’t matter what size boat you have.

The bill does is it'll address those fee issues. If you have a fourteen footer or less, it keeps the fee at $15 a year. It does eliminate the $5 discount you get for registering for three years. Personally I think allowing someone to register for three years is a pretty good incentive, because I don't think anybody wants the pain of having doing it every year, so I think that's, that's a reward to be able to allow that. It goes, the fee for a fifteen footer to a nineteen footer would go to $25 a year, or $75 for three years. From a twenty footer to a twenty six footer, I think I'm right, the fee would go to $75, or $50 a year and $150 a year, for three years, and then for a twenty seven footer to a forty footer, it goes $75 a year and multiply that by three for three years, and then a forty footer or above it goes to $150 per year. I think I got those right. I'm sorry, it was $100 on the twenty six feet and above. What I was trying to accomplish with the bill is generate around 6 million dollars in revenue for dredging. I might be able to add as well on registration fee, that goes from $20 to $30 for your tag fees. That hasn't been addressed in I think since the 80s, so that hasn't been changed in quite a while. But this fund would generate about 6 million dollars. It's a dollar for dollar match, so the local communities are, will have some skin in the game. And I can tell you, that's gonna be an issue for a lot of these communities, because if they're gonna ask for $500,000 out of this fund, they've got to find $500,000 of matching dollars from the local community to match it. So it puts the burden on them to, to make sure these projects are worthy. I think it will address a key issue on the coast, and I'm gonna ask for your support. It's very important to what's going on in Eastern North Carolina. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Walters. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you mister chair. To ask the bill sponsor a question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Brown, how do these projected fees compare to our neighboring states, meaning South Carolina and Virginia? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Jeff might could answer that better than I can. I think we're still very competitive. I mean there are sliding increases and I think you can see, the bigger the boat, the more the fee. I'm, someone want a bigger boat, it's expensive to operate already. I think that's a reasonable fee but Jeff, maybe you can answer that question better than I can. [SPEAKER CHANGES] My colleague Jennifer Hoffman from fiscal research is here and she has some information on that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you mister chair, Senator Brown. According to a Wildlife Resources report, Virginia also does a registration fee based on vessel length, and North Carolina's fees will be slightly higher than that. In Virginia for boats sixteen feet or less, it's $27, twenty feet is $31, forty feet, $37, and vessels bigger than forty feet are $40. Georgia also has a staggered vessel registration and so does Florida. North Carolina's will compare most closely with Florida's. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And, and I will say this too, I can promise you, we're not the only state having to face this issue. So I feel pretty confident that a lot of other states are gonna be looking at this same issue and trying to find revenue to address the problem. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up mister chair? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Jennifer, do you have any information ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mister chair? South Carolina just charges a single registration fee like North Carolina that's currently at $39 for a three year vessel registration. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Ford. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you mister chair. Senator Brown, what kind of dredging impact are you projecting to have with this particular fund? [SPEAKER CHANGES] It will pretty much take care of the shallow draft inlets. There is a certain time frame each year that dredging can take place. To schedule that dredging, really doesn't allow you to spend so much money to dredge because there's just a short season. I think this amount of money will take care of the problem that we have, especially with the dollar for dollar match. And if we need to adjust later we surely can, but I think it will address the issue. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Rabin. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'm assuming that the supply

so both commercial and recreational boats, vessels. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That is an issue. To be honest with you, the commercial boats, there's not a lot of them and they have a different, it's a different animal with the commercial boats. To me this is not a commercial/recreational issue. I mean, everybody's using the waterways and the inlets but this is not, and Jeff you may help me on this as well, this does not address the commercial boats but there's very few of those that we're dealing with. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Jeff. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I would just note that under current law the commercial fishing vessels have a special exemption, that they've always had, from paying the fee for this. So they still have to have their identification that is associated with having commercial vessel license but they don't have to pay the fee. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Right. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Cook. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Did you consider including the commercial vehicles? [SPEAKER CHANGES] To be honest with you, Senator Cook, I was trying to make this as simple as I could with this bill and, that's something we can surely address but, to me, I was just trying to make this as simple as I could. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow-up? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow-up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I appreciate that. It's not easy thing, to come up with this stuff. I think there's only four or five hundred commercial boats involved so there's no, it's hard to spread that kind of money of those few. However, from a fairness point of few, it seems like they ought to bear some portion of this cost, particularly as they're the primary benefactor of this because most of those boats, I understand, need about 14 foot drafts and that's what the dredging would do. Did you consider maybe some sort of increase in diesel fuel and maybe some sort of reallocation of the gas tax proceeds? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I did. I looked at that issue and there's so much pressure on transportation dollars at this point. I just felt like we just didn't need to go down that road. There's just so much pressure already there. So I just felt like that wasn't a place to go. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Rabin. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Members of the committee, this is information that some of you may or may not know, not living on the coast. Many commercial vessels, the vessels can be registered in two ways. They're either documented vessels, which means they're federally licensed vessels, and a documented vessel does not come under the purview of the state of North Carolina. The others are the normal state registration. And you can choose, depending on your vessel, of how you want to have it done. A documented vessel has to be surveyed and certain things have to take place and really the state doesn't have anything to do with documented vessels, that's federal. So that would pretty much eliminate the documented vessels and state registered vessels would be covered by this, as I read it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I think you're right. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You're accurate, I think. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Any further questions before the committee? Senator Cook. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The commercial vessels could be charged some sort of registration fee, as I understand it. From what you said it's unlikely couldn't. Is that right? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, Senator Rabin. [SPEAKER CHANGES] A documented vessel is different. A commercial or non-commercial has nothing to do with the registration of the vessel. If it's documented then in time of war, disaster, yadda-yadda, then the Federal Government can, if you will, commandeer that vessel and use it for its purpose. It can't come in and take your 16-foot Dixie that you use for crabbing, that's a state registered vehicle. So you get a little sticker on your boat. If your boat carries a sticker on it then this is something that Senator Brown is addressing. If your boat doesn't have a North Carolina sticker then I'm assuming this will not apply to it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. Jeff's got some information. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Like your license plate. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Just to point out, so to take advantage of the exemption for paying the fee for a commercial fishing vessel, they have to have a vessel registration under a different statute and there is a fee for that statute that's based on the length of the vessel. It's $1.00 per foot for vessel not over 18 feet in length, $1.50 per foot for vessel over 18 but not over 38 feet in length, $3.00 per foot for vessel over 38 but not over 50 feet in length

and $6.00 per foot for vessel over 50 feet in length. So they are having to pay a fee under another statute. The other thing to note is we're talking about shallow draft inlet dredging, only down to a depth of 14 feet. So a lot of the larger commercial fishing vessels wouldn't see a benefit from this if the dredging is only going down to 14 feet. They can't use these inlets anyway. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Hartsell. [SPEAKER CHANGES] But if I have a recreational vessel that I use only on an inland lake, I still pay this fee. Is that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Hartsell, you're exactly right, but the way the money is being allocated now, the existing fees, it's mostly for boat access which is building boat ramps, or whatever, across the state. That will stay in place. That's still in the bill. I think you could make a pretty good argument that the rest of state's probably benefited from this more so than the coast, in a lot of ways, as far as boat access goes. So, I'd almost tell you it's leveling the playing field a little bit. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Walters. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chair, and Senator Brown, and I appreciate what you're doing here but what I'm afraid that we're going to do is drive some boat registrations going out of the state of North Carolina into adjacent states, folks that have the opportunity to do that. How many inlets are going to be involved in this shallow dredging? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Jeff, help me here. I think there's, is it six or seven shallow draft inlets? [SPEAKER CHANGES] This would, I believe, include six and associated waterways. So it's not just the inlet it is also is going to include the connection from the inlet to the Atlantic Inter-coastal Waterway as well as some of the, potentially, the mouths of some of the coastal rivers that empty into the Atlantic Ocean. We have staff from the Division of Water Resources in DENR who could specifically talk about that but it's my understanding that the definition, that's what the PCS did is it added a definition for shallow draft inlet and it's basically those inlets, the six or so inlets, and then the rivers, the mouths of which open into the Atlantic. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Tucker. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chair, the modest increase in fees should not, I don't think, Senator Walters, impact a bunch of boats going out of state for registration. That's a lot of hassle and a lot of question there. But I do appreciate your concern about that. At the appropriate time, I'd move for a favorable report on this bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, we'll hold that for a second. Any other questions from the committee? Any other questions? Senator Ford. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Quick follow-up question on the areas that are going to be dredged. How did you come up with that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] They're, if you look at a map of the coast you can see where the shallow draft inlets are located, they're there. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow-up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] They're marked inlets now. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So, essentially all of them are going to be covered? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, all the shallow draft inlets will be covered. And again, don't forget about the matching [??] base of this. The locals are going to have a whole lot to gain, I can tell you. It's a dollar for dollar match and, so some of these smaller communities are going to have to come up with some money as well. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Jeffrey has got a clarifying point. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I wasn't able to follow the discussion about federal documentation but I did want to point out that on page 4 of the bill there's a change to the current exemption statute. Under current law, federally documented vessels are exempt from paying the fee under here. This changes that so that federal documented vessels would also have to be included in this now, so they would have to apy the fee. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Hartsell. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Will this dredging include the Dismal Swamp Canal? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Hartsell, would you like to include that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Actually, it wouldn't be a bad idea. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I don't think it will though. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Tucker. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Is there an opportunity, possibly, to dredge Sugar Creek that runs through Mecklenburg County? I think that's what Senator Ford was getting at. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Is that where he's going? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Any other questions before the committee? Any comments from the audience? Senator Tucker has the motion before the committee, unfavorable to the original bill and favorable to the post committee substitute. All those in favor will say aye. All opposed. Aye's have it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, coast will appreciate. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Next we have up Senate Bill 113, Senator Jackson, DENR Support for Original Water Supply System. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chair.

of the committee, this is a bill that was drafted out of the ERC committee, the interim committee from last session. I'll be glad to go through it but it sort of clarifies a few things. One, such as in section 1, it's got to economically and practically feasible before any work is done. Moving on down, it maintains downstream flows necessary to protect downstream users. And it tries to avoid mitigation but if there is its impact's consistent with the requirements of the rules already adopted. And if you flip over to the back it gives the department authority to assist if they can assist with technical assistance on federal permits. And section F on page 2, "Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the department to require environmental permits or to apply and enforce environmental standards pursuant with state law." And I'd appreciate your support. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Any questions before the committee? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I move to accept this. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Cook makes a motion for... [SPEAKER CHANGES] Favorable. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Favorable to the bill. All those in favor say aye. All those opposed no. Aye's have it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We're adjourned.