House, Senate divided over GenX bill

House Bill 189 made it through the House late Wednesday freeing up funds to support research and look for solutions to the GenX and emerging contaminants problem

Senate leader Phil Berger said Wednesday night his chamber likely will wait until the next scheduled session in May to act further.

GOP lawmakers scheduled this session three months ago and approved a wide range of topics that could be considered. 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".

Berger argued that Senate Republicans had already taken legislative action, referring to the plan put forward by State Senator Michael Lee in October of past year. He added, however, that he couldn't say whether House Republicans back a judicial selection overhaul, which also would require a constitutional amendment approved by voters. 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.

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The Senate has gone home for the rest of the week, except for a skeletal session on Friday. And we commissioned studies to quantify the amount of GenX in the Cape Fear River and determine the impact it could have on public health and safety. He said that would enable legislators to further redraw House and Senate districts if directed by a federal court. Senators examined the maps during a special committee and also have offered a related proposal that would replace head-to-head elections with an appointment system and retention elections. Cooper's administration had requested more funds.

"This is not how I would run things or how the Democratic caucus would run things, but we are here". Berger, the Senate leader, said recently he expected the issue would be addressed in May.

Correction: This story initially mis-stated how much funding the House included in its GenX bill.

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