House, Senate divided over GenX bill
By Travis Fain The House voted unanimously Wednesday to add $2.3 million to the state’s response on GenX and other water quality concerns, but the measure was quickly blasted by Senate leadership, which dubbed the bill a do-nothing effort.
Rep. Ted Davis , R-New Hanover, had been incensed by the Senate’s unwillingness to take up his bill, saying shortly before the House voted that "all I know is that we’re doing something."
The measure becomes one of several major issues dividing the legislature, not across party lines but between Republican majorities in the two chambers.
The House’s GenX proposal includes new funding to buy a high-resolution mass spectrometer in an effort to identify chemicals in state rivers and drinking supplies.
State officials did not immediately respond to WRAL News efforts to confirm what equipment state scientists can already access, as Berger put it, for free.
Berger’s criticism of the bill tracks with some of the complaints offered Wednesday by House Democrats who, though they voted for the bill, argued that it doesn’t go far enough, does’t include near enough funding and simply told scientists to do what they’re already doing.
Sen. Michael Lee , R-New Hanover, whose district draws drinking water affected by the plant, pointed to previous legislative efforts that included $435,000 for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the local water authority to study GenX and ways to remove the chemical from drinking water.
Wednesday was the first day of a special legislative session full of question marks, particularly after a panel of three federal judges declared the state’s congressional map unconstitutional on Tuesday and forbade North Carolina from holding planned U.S. House elections this year until a partisan gerrymander in the maps is addressed.
Legislators not only have new map proposals before them but the possibility of moving to an appointments system where legislators would forward a handful of potential judicial candidates to the governor for consideration.
House Republicans have advanced a measure to add funding, but Senate leadership has generally opposed this, saying Republicans have adequately funded state schools.