Late session rush could seal fate for ETJ bill
by Anna Oakes
State Sen. Dan Soucek of Boone introduced Senate Bill 949 on May 30, and the legislation received Senate approval June 21. In the House of Representatives, the Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations on June 25 passed a favorable report on the bill by a 10-9 vote.
“It's gone through all the processes. The last step is to be voted on the House floor. That can happen at any time,” Soucek said Friday.
But Soucek said the legislature's foremost responsibility during the short legislative session is the passage of budget adjustments to the two-year state budget. Perdue vetoed the legislature's budget bill, House Bill 950, on Friday, paving the way for an attempted veto override on Monday.
“That really overshadows any of our other concerns and bills,” Soucek said. “That affects whether Monday will end our session and whether it will go on longer.”
Senate Bill 949 was withdrawn from the House floor on Tuesday and re-referred back to the House Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations. Soucek said it is common for bills to be referred to this committee when legislative sessions are drawing close to an end.
“That's a way of delaying it until a time where it's going to be heard,” he said.
Soucek said it's possible the bill could be referred out of committee and voted on in the House on the same day, but “one of the challenges is I don't have the privilege of speaking in the House.”
Soucek said in Senate and House sessions that the local delegation (he and House Rep. Jonathan Jordan, who represents Watauga and Ashe counties) were in agreement on the bill, but Jordan did not appear to speak on the bill during the rules committee meeting Monday.
An ETJ, authorized by the state since 1959, is a defined area in the county outside of city limits that is subject to the town's zoning regulations, including the type, density and location of land uses. Boone has exercised ETJ authority one mile outside town limits since 1983.