Updated: July 21.
July 21. Vance Aydlett received this from Joe & Henri McClees.The 2014 NC General Assembly will adjourn within a few days. The transportation portion of the budget appears to have been settled. Although the House pressed for a final resolution of the ferry toll issue, Senate conferees refused to discuss the issue. Thus, adjournment finds no new ferry taxes, but leaves our issue dangling for the 2015 legislative session. As Rep. John Torbett often says, “It is the right thing to do,” to remove ferry tolls and include the ferries as a unique part of a larger marketing plan for our remarkable coast. Tourism produces needed revenue, whereas tolling removes money from coastal communities. We will bring this concept to the 2015 General Assembly. In the meanwhile, existing law passed in 2013 forbids new ferry tolls without a specific request from a local RPO. No such request has been forthcoming.
July 7. Vance Aydlett received this from Joe & Henri
McClees. Good News in the NO FERRY TOLL Fight! On Wednesday,
7/2/14, the NC House of Representatives passed House Bill #1234
“Ferry Tolling/Replacement Funds”. On Thursday, 7/3/14, the House
sent this Bill to the Senate by “Special Messenger” to get the
bill to the Senate in a hurry. Many thanks to NC House members Bob
Steinburg, Paul Tine, Michael Speciale, and John Torbett for
sponsoring HB#1234. Also, thanks to Representatives Frank Iler,
Michael Wray, Phil Shepard, Charles Jeter, Darren Jackson, Larry
Pittman, and Rena Turner for co-sponsoring this important
legislation. This excellent legislation removes the power of the
NC Dept. of Transportation to toll ANY ferry. It provides
authority to generate receipts by concessions, sponsorships,
advertising, and other receipt-generating activities. It contains
similar language to the House version of the proposed Budget. In
the meanwhile, the Budget Conference Committee members, Senators
and Representatives, will meet next week (week of July 7) in
Raleigh to continue budget negotiations.
June 11. From S. Henri McClees. Subject: No Ferry Tolls in NC House Version of Budget for 2014-2015! NO FERRY TOLLS AT ALL! As of today, the newest version of the NC Budget contains language to delete ferry tolls on all ferries! Thanks to visionary members of the NC House Transportation Committee and the NC House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, the voices of coastal citizens have been heard. Beginning Wednesday morning, 6/11/14, a marathon session of the House Appropriations Committee will review this entire Budget version and will entertain amendments. You may listen to the Appropriations Committee discussion and debate by listening online to the Audio for Appropriations Committee Room/Room 643. Votes by the full House are expected on Thursday, 6/12/14 and Friday, 6/13/14. If you wish to listen to the budget debate in the full NC House of Representatives this week, you may listen to the House Chamber Audio Stream. Once the NC House of Representatives passes its version of the Budget and sends it to the Senate, then a process of negotiation begins. The Senate has passed its version of the Budget earlier this year. As you may recall, the Senate made no effort to help us with the looming ferry toll issue. By the end of this week, the House will have produced its very different version of North Carolina’s Budget for FY 2014-2015. A “Conference Committee” will be appointed, with equal number of “Conferees” from the House and the Senate. The Conferees will meet to discuss the differences between the Senate’s version and the House’s version of the Budget to work out the differences. These negotiations are held privately. Depending on who is talking, this process may take days or it may take weeks! We will continue to work to persuade Senators that the House version of the Budget contains the most progressive and innovative approach to long-term ferry funding. Broad economic development in eastern and coastal North Carolina is the best answer to funding ferries as well as all transportation needs. Our ferries are part of our highway system, and the House Budget recognizes this reality. Soon, we will request your help in communicating these ideas to the appropriate Senators. Be encouraged by the House Budget, but recognize this fight is not over! Thank you for your continuing help and support. Best regards, Henri and Joe McClees
May 13. From Sen Bill Cook. I understand the importance of this issue for the residents of Knotts Island and Currituck County. I'm currently working on a bill that would prevent any toll from being put in affect on routes that do not have a toll, and to take off the tolls for the routes that currently do have a toll. The routes that currently do have a toll only bring in revenue of about a little over 3 million. They're many ways out there that we can do to make up for that revenue such as advertising on the vessels and permitting concession contracts. Looking at the numbers on the Knotts Island route, if there was a toll it would only generate about $ 80,000 of revenue a year... Which It would more than likely cost more than $ 80,000 to just collect the toll for the route... It would make absolutely no sense at all to put a toll in place on that route. Again, I can ensure you that I will continue to fight against tolls and will do everything I can to prevent a toll on the Knotts Island Ferry route. Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any additional concerns or questions.
May 19. From Sen Bill Cook. The bill that I was talking about which I filed today is SB 792. You can find it at the following link http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2013&BillID=S792.
May 20. From Rep Paul Tine. Thank you very much for your email. I am encouraged that no ferry tolls will be in the House version of the budget and hope that we will have some resolution this session.
May 29. From Rep. Bob Steinburg. House Bill 1234 was filed today . It will be introduced tomorrow during the House Session. Representatives Torbett, Tine, and Speciale also sponsored the bill with me.
May 29. From Commissioner S Paul O'Neal. Great news: Bills filed in Senate & House to Stop Ferry Tolling.
Senator Bill Cook filed Senate Bill 792 to stop ferry tolling. Senator Norman Sanderson joined with Sen. Cook to find other monies to permanently replace receipts that would have been generated by ferry tolling.
Today, four outstanding Representatives Bob Steinburg, Paul Tine, John Torbett, and Michael Speciale filed House Bill 1234 to stop ferrying tolling. Rep. Charles Jeter joined these four primary House Bill sponsors to direct the NC Dept. of Transportation to find other receipt-generation activities and use the proceeds for ferry passenger vessel replacement projects.
These Senators and Representatives are fired up! They are working
diligently to STOP FERRY TOLLING. Please thank them for their
faithful work for you and the other coastal citizens who rely on
the ferries for transportation. Please take time to email them and
thank them for their support of North Carolina’s coastal citizens:
Sen. Bill Cook: (919) 715-8293; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Norman Sanderson: (919) 733-5706; email@example.com
Rep. Bob Steinburg: (919) 733-0010 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Paul Tine (919) 733-5906; email@example.com
Rep. John Torbett (919) 733-5868; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Michael Speciale (919) 733-5853; email@example.com
Rep. Charles Jeter (919) 733-5654; firstname.lastname@example.org
Also CC: Commissioner Vance Aydlett at Vance.Aydlett@CurrituckCountyNC.gov