North Carolina Rep. Mitch Gillespie (R) of Marion represents McDowell and Burke counties. Photo courtesy of Gillespie via the N.C. General Assembly.

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RALEIGH—After a one-day session earlier this month and a two-week hiatus, the N.C. General Assembly heads back to work this week with the House and Senate starting up at noon on Wednesday.

Behind the scenes, there’s been plenty of action, especially in the House, where committee appointments and key chairmanships are almost worked out but yet to be announced.

Those announcements should come soon. Committees are due to start up regular meetings next week.

In addition to adopting session rules, both chambers have set their filing deadlines for the session. In the House, bills recommended by study commissions and state agencies must be filed by February 25 and March 18, respectively. Local bills in the House must be filed by April 1, and all public bills and resolutions not related to the budget by April 8. The final deadline for all House bills is April 15.

In the Senate, all local bills and resolutions must be filed by March 11 and all public bills by March 26.

The crossover date for the session is May 7. Bills must pass at least one chamber by that date to remain viable for the session.

Gillespie moves again

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Carolina Public Press inquired, but an explanation from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of just what former Assistant Secretary Mitch Gillespie would be doing at the department’s Asheville office never came.

Now we know: nothing.

Last week, new House Speaker Tim Moore named his staff appointments, including Gillespie, a former WNC legislator from McDowell County, who will serve as Moore’s senior policy advisor for environment, natural resources, energy and regulatory reform.

Gillespie was to have moved into the Asheville office as DENR’s director of regional outreach after a shakeup at the top of the department following the appointment of longtime department administrator Donald van der Vaart as secretary.

The official DENR announcement, on Jan. 14, said that Gillespie, as the first director of regional outreach, would be “working to strengthen environmental efforts in Western North Carolina and ensure that the concerns of citizens, local governments and the regulated community are being heard.”

In an internal department memo sent out the same day, van der Vaart said the new position was worked out in part because Gillespie wanted to be closer to his home in Marion due to “family medical issues.”

The sudden shift seemed to catch even DENR officials off-guard.

DENR spokesperson Drew Elliot told Raleigh TV station WRAL that, after talking to Gillespie, he didn’t anticipate the development. But, he added, “people change their minds all the time about things.”

There’s no word yet on whether the department will appoint a new director of regional outreach.

Push for preservation tax credit

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Susan Kluttz, secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources, paid a visit to Hendersonville last week as part of a swing through WNC to build support for restoring the Historic Preservation Tax Credit. The legislature eliminated the tax credit last year, drawing the ire of local governments statewide and especially in Asheville and Hendersonville, which both used the credit to leverage downtown revitalizations.

Kluttz said that Gov. Pat McCory would include a new version of the credit in his budget proposal, which is due next month.

The North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition has launched a petition drive and awareness campaign to restore the tax credit at historictaxcredits.org.

Kirk Ross

Based in the Triangle, Kirk Ross is the capital bureau chief for Carolina Public Press. Contact him at kross@carolinapublicpress.org.

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