By Jesse Wood
July 3, 2012. As the General Assembly wraps up its Regular Session of the 2011-2012 biennium today, local bills that affect the Town of Boone were pushed to the wayside and left to die in committee.
Those bills in question include Sen. Dan Soucek’s sponsored Senate Bill 949, which would strip Boone’s ETJ (extra-territorial jurisdiction) rights and Rep. Jonathan Jordan’s sponsored House Bill 1227, which would null and void the state’s water reclassification needed for Boone to construct its four million-gallons-per-day raw water intake facility on the New River.
The Regular Session of the 2012-13 biennium won’t won’t meet until January 30, 2013 – a few months after the General Election, which could decide if these two bills make their way back into the General Assembly.
Both Jordan and Soucek are running for re-election. Soucek told High Country Press yesterday that he vowed to take a “leadership role” regarding ETJs across the High Country and the state in the future – no matter what happens this session. Jordan could not be reached for comment.
Opponents of both Jordan and Soucek in November’s General Election have been vocal about both of these issues affecting Boone.
In November, Soucek is running against Roy J. Carter, a Democrat from Glendale Springs in Ashe County, for District 45 in the N.C. Senate; and Jordan is running against Cullie Tarleton, a Democrat from Blowing Rock in Watauga County, for District 93 in the N.C. House. Both Carter and Tarleton said that those two bills were “ill advised.”
Over the phone on Tuesday, Tarleton had much to say on the issue of the reclassification of the New River Basin, which is pertinent to Boone constructing the water intake system.
“I don’t know why Jonathan introduced that bill. Once it got to committee, he quickly learned there was no real support for it,” Tarleton said. “It was ill advised. I don’t think he did his homework.”
Tarleton said he was “sort of neutral” because he doesn’t live in Boone, but added that as a Blowing Rock resident, he is affected because of the Boone-Blowing Rock Interconnect, which would take water from Boone’s intake facility and transport it to Blowing Rock in the event of a major drought.
“I am certainly not opposed to the intake,” Tarleton said. “A few years ago, I introduced a bill to give legislative authority to do the intake. It passed the House but not the Senate. I think Boone is being very pro-active in planning for the future and the future water needs they have.”
Tarleton said that the intake won’t “impede” tourism and recreation, such as “boating, rafting, canoeing, wading or anything” as some opponents of the intake facility have argued. He said that people who are opposed to the intake “mean well,” but they are just “wrong on their facts.”
“The facts are the intake will not have nay detrimental effect on New River,” Tarleton said “Nothing is going to happen unless Boone meets all of the very stringent state and federal regulations. When they do, the New River will not be negatively impacted.”
Roy J. Carter has been very vocal about the issues regarding Boone’s ETJ, and he said he has spent the past three weeks traveling around the Boone’s ETJ area talking to area residents.
“I am having a hard time finding anyone really opposed to it that lives in the ETJ,” Carter said. “My take is that before I would ever enter a local bill that has an opportunity to impact so many of my constituents, I would sure want to kown that that bill would be supported by big majority of my constituents. Not Democrats. Not Republicans. But just people who have a lot at stake.”
On June 7 when the bill was first reported favorably by a Senate committee, Carter wrote: “ATTN. BOONE RESIDENTS – your Senator, Dan Soucek, just attacked you. I want to work with you, NOT abolish the rights of your town.”
On Tuesday, Carter vowed to make this issue a focal point on his campaign trail in the months ahead of the General Election in November.
“I will bring it up every opportunity I get, especially in Watauga County and in other places that could see the same thing happen,” Carter said. “People need to know where I stand. Before I enter a local bill that is going to affect just one part of my region and not the rest of the state, I will definitely research it and have community meetings. If it damages the citizens, I am not going to introduce it.”
Referring to the bill dying on the House floor, Carter added, “I hope it never has a chance to pop back up because I hope to be elected.”