This bill pertains to three big issues in North Carolina - funds from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, funding class size mandates, and changing the structure of the State Board of Elections.
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality recently approved the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and received a voluntary environmental mitigation contribution of $57.8 million from Duke Energy. The fund is intended to be used for environmental mitigation from the hundreds of miles of pipeline that will cross underneath over 300 creaks and rivers.
Taking control of the $58M environmental mitigation fund from Duke Energy
The first section of the bill deals with the funding allocated to environmental mitigation as a result of the water quality permit granted to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Governor Cooper stated recently that he has the authority to spend the money via Executive Order. The legislature responded that they ultimately have the authority to allocate the funds, and they try to do that with this bill.
Funding Class Size Chaos
In 2017, the NCGA passed a law reducing class sizes in North Carolina. However, the law did not allocate any additional funding to teachers or classrooms, which forced teachers to hold classes in closets and forced schools to turn kids away.
Creating a new structure for the State Board of Elections
In 2016, the Republicans in the legislature passed a bill combining the State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission and restricted the Governor's ability to appoint the majority of the members. Governor Cooper sued, and in late January, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Cooper finding that the move by the legislature violated the State Constitution's separation of powers clause.