Hager's bill to end NC's renewables policy refuses to die
By John Murawski
Meet the bill with nine lives – and twice as many votes cast against it.
Lawmakers on Wednesday could once again attempt to end a state renewables policy whose proponents say has elevated North Carolina to the nation’s fifth-largest developer of solar farms.
Last week, lawmakers defeated the measure 18-13 in a House committee. At the time proponents of solar power and renewables celebrated a rare victory.
On Tuesday, Rep. Mike Hager, the bill’s sponsor, revived it for another vote.
Even by the standards of North Carolina’s partisan legislature, the push to undo the 6-year-old energy policy marks unusual determination to salvage a struggling bill.
For their part, advocates of solar power and renewables are now bracing for the potential of esoteric parliamentary maneuvers that are used on rare occasion to advance controversial bills for last-minute votes.
“It sounds like it’s never dead from what I’m learning,” Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Democrat from Guilford County, said. “This is a lot of procedural maneuvering.”
Conservative activists have come to see North Carolina’s legislation as a litmus test for party organization and ideological credentials. The repeal effort involves at least 16 organizations – including American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform and The Heartland Institute – that want North Carolina to serve as a national model for rolling back policies that conservatives say interfere with free markets.
Still, three of the state’s most powerful Republican lawmakers voted against the bill last week in the House Committee on Public Utilities and Energy. A companion bill has languished in the Senate for almost six weeks...