Every day, our journalism dismantles barriers and shines a light on the critical overlooked and under-reported issues important to all North Carolinians.
Before you go …
If you like what you are reading and believe in independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism like ours—journalism the way it should be—please contribute to keep us going. Reporting like this isn’t free to produce and we cannot do this alone. Thank you!
There’s no shortage of bills coming from Western North Carolina’s legislative delegation–including two of the more colorful and controversial laws working their way through the N.C. General Assembly right now.
Finals votes could come next week on Franklin Republican Sen. Jim Davis’ Opossum Right-to-Work Act, which changes wildlife rules to allow for Brasstown’s annual New Year’s Eve Possum Drop. Votes could also come then on Asheville Republican Rep. Tim Moffitt’s bill to clarify the definition of indecent exposure, dubbed the “Nipple Bill,” which makes it illegal for women to expose their breasts in public.
In all, legislators representing the 18 westernmost counties of the state have sponsored more than three dozen bills as of Wednesday, Feb. 21. See below for a listing and links to each bill for which the lawmaker is listed as a primary sponsor.
Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Hendersonville), the primary sponsor of 13 bills, has been the most prolific this session among WNC legislators. He’s followed by Rep. Mike Hager (R-Rutherforton) and Moffitt, who are both primary sponsors of nine bills each.
Apodaca, chair of the Senate Rules Committee, is listed as primary sponsor of several key initiatives in the first month of the session, including bills to reject a state-run health exchange and the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and the Government Reorganization and Efficiency Act, a controversial move by the Senate to allow the General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory to replace all sitting members of numerous state boards and commissions.
One of the main regional efforts introduced so far this session — in a bill sponsored in the House by Rep. Joe Sam Queen (D-Waynesville) and in one sponsored in the Senate by Apodaca — funds construction of a new Western Crime Lab. Other local and regional legislation includes a bill sponsored by Rep. Michele Presnell (R-Burnsville) to give greater flexibility in setting school calendars to Haywood, Madison and Yancey counties; an Apodaca-sponsored bill to amend rules on Henderson County fire districts; a Davis-sponsored resolution honoring the founders of Hayesville for the town’s 100th anniversary; and a bill repealing the use of steel traps in Cleveland, Polk and Rutherford counties that is sponsored by Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Spruce Pine).
Also, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported this week that Moffitt said he expects to introduce a bill on a merger of the Asheville water system with the Metropolitan Sewerage District by the end of the month.
Four legislators have yet to introduce legislation, including Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt (D-Asheville), Rep. Jonathan Jordan (R-Jefferson), and first-term Reps. Nathan Ramsey (R-Fairview) and Josh Dobbins (R-Nebo), who was appointed on Jan. 29 to replace Rep. Mitch Gillespie, who resigned to accept a position at the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The following is a listing of bills for which a legislator representing one of the 18 westernmost counties is listed as a primary sponsor.
Rep. Mike Hager (R-Rutherfordton)
Rep. Chuck McCrady (R-Hendersonville)
Rep. Tim Moffitt (R-Asheville)
Rep. Michele Presnell (R-Burnsville)
Rep. Joe Sam Queen (D-Waynesville)
Rep. Roger West (R-Marble)
Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Hendersonville)
Sen. Jim Davis (R-Franklin)
Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Spruce Pine)
Sen. Dan Soucek (R-Boone)
Correction: Rep. Tim Moffitt’s name was misspelled once in a previous version of this story. The story has also been updated to include Rep. Chuck McGrady’s bill sponsorship.