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Deadline near for COA Dare bill

032917billcook

Sen. Bill Cook

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Friday, June 22, 2018

Passage of a bill to authorize use of state bond funds for a new College of The Albemarle campus in Dare County could come down to the wire as the legislative short session winds down in Raleigh.

A similar bill last year that authorized the use of NC Connect funds for a public safety education facility in Currituck County was the last bill passed in the session, barely making it in at 2 a.m. on the last day, according to state Rep. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, who sponsored the Currituck legislation last year and co-sponsored the Dare bill this year.

The Dare County COA facilities bill, introduced in the N.C. House by state Rep. Beverly Boswell, R-Dare, and unanimously approved in the House on June 13, currently is in the Senate Rules Committee, which is sometimes described as the place bills go to die — a fact that has caused some heartburn for COA officials.

But Jordan Hennessy, legislative assistant to state Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, said Cook backs the legislation and is working to get it moving in the Senate.

“Sen. Cook supports the bill,” Hennessy said Friday. “But it’s presently drafted as a public bill, and the deadline for public bills was last Friday. Sen. Cook is working on the possibility to have it drafted as a local bill.”

In any event, time is running out on this short session of the legislature. Legislative leaders have announced their intent to adjourn the session June 29.

Steinburg said Friday that regardless of any technicalities, if Cook asks for the bill to come before the Senate for a vote that should be enough to get the legislation on the Senate floor, where it would be expected to pass without controversy.

Steinburg said he spoke to state Sen. Harry Brown, the Senate Majority leader, about the bill this week, telling him it is critical for COA and Dare County and needs to be approved by the Senate.

In unusual turn of events, Boswell asked state Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, the House Rules Committee chairman, to take Steinburg’s name off the Dare bill, according to Steinburg. But Steinburg said he did not remove his name as a co-sponsor of the bill.

The special legislation for Currituck and Dare came about because state law otherwise bars COA from using community college funds for county-owned facilities. The Currituck and Dare campuses are owned by those counties.

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