Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Speaker relents; Yadkin River bill up in committee next week

House Speaker Joe Hackney has given the go-ahead to Rep. Cullie Tarleton, D-Watauga, to hold another committee meeting on the proposed Yadkin River Trust bill. Hackney last week asked Tarleton to cancel this week's meeting, at which Chairman Tarleton planned for his House Water Resources and Infrastructure Committee to vote on the Yadkin River bill. The Senate passed the bill earlier this year with bipartisan support. It would create a trust that could purchase and operate the hydroelectric dams on the Yadkin River if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission does not issue another federal license to Alcoa Generating Inc. to operate the dams -- and if Congress engages, for the first time ever, in a "recapture" of the license as part of a process that would lead to another operator producing power with the waters of the Yadkin. The committee will meet at 2 p.m. July 28 in its usual place, Room 1228 of the Legislative Building.

Last week Hackney mentioned several reasons why he had asked that the committee meeting be cancelled. He lifted that freeze on the bill Tuesday afternoon about the same time as House and Senate negotiators came to an agreement over raising taxes to balance the 2009-10 state budget. If anyone suspects a connection between the two actions, they've got a lot of company. Backers of the bill think so, anyway.

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