NC Lawmaker Loses Award After Fracking Vote

NC Lawmaker Loses Award After Fracking Vote by Charlotte CBS Local News, July 5, 2012
The House narrowly voted late Monday to override the veto when first-term Rep. Susi Hamilton, D-New Hanover, and five other House Democrats sided with Republicans to cancel Perdue’s veto. The North Carolina League of Conservation Voters says it will take the unusual step of asking Hamilton to return a “Rising Star” award she received two weeks ago that praised the first-term legislator’s pro-environmental record. A second of the six, Rep. Becky Carney of Mecklenburg County, said she made a mistake when she pressed the green button at her desk to vote to override rather than the red “no” button. She tried to get her vote changed — which would have prevented the override — but the chamber’s operating rules don’t allow vote changes that would affect the outcome. Carney said she was denied the chance to seek an exception. House Republican leaders quickly used a parliamentary procedure to secure permanently the 72-47 margin — which is above the 60 percent majority required. The bill, which authorizes fracking in North Carolina and lays out the regulatory path for the state to begin issuing drill permits in two years or so, is now law. “I take full responsibility for my vote, as we all should,” an emotional Carney said early Tuesday. “It was a huge mistake, but it was a vote and it is what it is.” But the conservation league focused its fire on Hamilton. The group accused Hamilton of trading her vote for separate legislation extending a tax credit by another year for the film production companies shooting movies in the state. … “This was too big of a vote to sell out the environment on an issue that will change the landscape of our state for years to come,” league lobbyist Dan Crawford said in a prepared release. … Hamilton said the award’s rescission is unfortunate. She told reporters she believed the league was torn on whether Perdue should veto the bill. She cited a conversation she had at the group’s June 20 dinner when she received the award. A league staffer said she was worried a veto would lead lawmakers to pass something that would be even worse in the future, according to Hamilton. The law still requires the Legislature to vote again when the regulations are in place before permits can be issued. “This is probably the best compromise we’re going to get for right now,” Hamilton said, adding that “if we had not made this compromise this year than in 2013 we would have seen a ‘drill baby, drill’ bill again.” Crawford said Hamilton knew the league wanted her to sustain Perdue’s veto, citing an email it sent to wavering legislators such as Hamilton. Hamilton “appears to have a guilty conscience about her decision and is reaching out in order to justify her actions,” Crawford wrote Tuesday. “She voted wrong on the bill and she simply needs to state that there was a better offer on the table and she took it.” …“It’s disappointing that fracking will become legal based on an accidental vote,” Morgan said.

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