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NC House Hides from Voting on Toll Roads in North Carolina


Something happened quietly at the last meeting of the NC House Transportation Committee which should disturb and anger anyone who believes our government should operate in an open an honest manner.  There’s simply no other way to put it.

As readers of aShortChronicle know, House Bill 267 was filed in early March with the title – NCGA Prior Approval/Interstate Tolling.  This bill would have required an “act of the general assembly” before any tolling could take place on an existing interstate road in North Carolina.  The initial story was covered here and a follow-up was covered here when Committee Chair and Mecklenburg Representative, Bill Brawley, signed on to the bill as a sponsor.

As has been reported previously, upon its initial filing opponents of the I-77 HOT lanes project initially thought this bill might provide an opening to stop this effort to implement tolls locally.  However, Rep Brawley as well as Co-Sponsor John Torbett of Gaston County immediately began to backpedal on the bill’s impact to I-77 saying, without any solid or documented justification, that I-77 would in factnot be impacted by the bill.  No additional vote would be required. (See here for more on that.)

Last Thursday this bill finally was heard in Committee, but the page for the bill was not updated.  Friday night, aShortChronicle received this response from legislative staff as to the status of the bill.

“The bill passed with a couple of changes.  It will be reported out Monday and the new version will be on the internet after that.” (Emphasis added.)

Today, that report came.

Here’s the new version of the bill with a new title – Limit Tolling on Existing Interstates.

This is a completely new bill with no mention of the NCGA voting.  “Only a couple of changes” becomes something “completely and totally different”.  This new bill now focuses on how tolls can be implemented rather than the General Assembly voting on when they can be implemented.

Unfortunately, this type of activity has become par for the course in this debate about tolls on I77.  Transparency and dealing in good faith went out the window some time ago for tolling supporters.

Here are some other examples:

  • See this story for details on a public meeting between transportation officials, consultants, and municipal elected leaders conveniently organized to avoid State open meetings laws.
  • See this story for how constituents were treated on a visit to Raleigh to discuss the I77 project with the Speaker of the House.
  • See this story about the surprise vote in Cornelius which prematurely cut off debate on the topic in the only town with elected officials willing to speak out aggressively against the project.

If this is what stands for good, clean government, we are in trouble.  It’s more like win at all costs even if that means destroying the public trust.

At that, our leaders are being more than successful.

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