The state House of Representatives wrapped up the August special session Thursday with a heated debate over House Bill 56, and after passing the measure, adjourned until early October. The Senate passed its adjournment resolution Wednesday but met in a skeleton session early Thursday and went home.
The measure includes two controversial provisions: Repealing a ban on the use of plastic bags by retailers and restaurants in several Outer Banks communities; and providing nearly a half-million dollars to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to begin dealing with the pollutant GenX, which was discharged earlier this year in the Cape Fear River.
Lawmakers added the GenX provision to H.B. 56 in a conference report released late Wednesday afternoon after the Senate passed a resolution to adjourn until Oct. 4. The Senate passed the bill Wednesday night, 29-10, but House Democrats objected to an immediate vote, delaying the vote until Thursday.
House members debated H.B. 56 for more than an hour before passing it, 61-44 — less than the 60-percent majority required to overcome a likely veto from Gov. Roy Cooper. Even so, 15 House members were absent Thursday, making an override possible in October or during a subsequent session.
The legislature reached its primary goal for the session Wednesday when the House and Senate passed a new set of legislative maps for the 2018 election cycle, meeting a Sept. 1 deadline set by a three-judge federal court panel.