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House | July 29, 2014 | Committee Room | House Agriculture Committee

Full MP3 Audio File

We’re ready to start. So the meeting will come to order. We’re happy to have House Sergeant-at-arms people today, ?? Bill Blast, Bob Rossy and Reggie Seals helping us. You should have on your desk a copy of the bill and a copy of the, did we send out a copy of the summary? This is a conference report and the reason that Jim and I wanted to have this meeting, we wanted to the House Agriculture Committee to actually look at the conference report until comfortable with that and we’ll have a simple motion to accept that at the end. And it does go to Finance after it leaves the Ag. Committee. Jimmy, if you’re ready. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chair. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Got it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chair, members of the Committee, thanks for being here. As Representative Langdon indicated we had all the possibility in the world the other day when this came on the floor of the House to just vote to concur. As I made a brief statement on the floor of the House the other day, we felt like that at least this committee needed time to take a look at it and so we appreciate your attendance here. Mr. Chair, I think it might be helpful and might be beneficial to the procedure if we recognize a couple of people in the audience from some of the agencies in addition to I think I know of a couple who wants to make public comment and so it might be beneficial to us, Mr. Chair if we recognize these individuals up front for about two minutes. Does that meet with the approval of the chair? [SPEAKER CHANGES] It does. And what we have is Joy Hicks from Department of Ag, Joy. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Joy Hicks, Legislative liaison with the Department of Agriculture. We, the Department of Agriculture certainly appreciate your support and would urge your concurrence with this conference report. The conference report does a lot to help the department continue to provide the regulatory and consumer services that you expect from us. The specifics it allows us to efficiently work with our law enforcement officers both with the North Carolina forest service and at the state fairs to make sure that we can enforce our agriculture laws that you have put in the statute efficiently by using those law enforcement officers across their various jurisdictions. It allows us to aid our farmers and our pesticide laws better by classifying our pesticide applicators and providing specific training for them, not one size fits all training that they currently get through their EPA certification. It allows us to recognize our marketing program as a state wide agricultural ?? bnc marketing program further promote if you don’t know this month is actually ?? bnc products month and were proud of that proud and this would help promote that marketing program further. There are also several land owner protections here in this bill but the Department of Agriculture in their support of farmers and their support of land owners greatly would like to see enacted. So Mr. Chairman and Representative Dixon, we have with us various staff today if there are questions that you have. But We greatly support this ?? agriculture bill that’s before you in this House of Ag I believe this is our first agriculture bill this session and we are proud of it and we’re here to fully support it [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Joy. Jake Parker, Farm Bureau. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman I’m Jake Parker State Legislative Director and Legislative council for the North Carolina Farm Bureau. I appreciate this committee taking the time to look at this conference report which the North Carolina Farm Bureau supports. I want to point out several provisions that we have policies supporting and that we would commend to you first. The confidentiality.

Speaker 2: . . . section number one we think is a reasonable approach to dealing with environmental complaints that are filed against farmers. We don’t think it hinders the ability of ?? to investigate those complaints. It’s a . . . as I said at the beginning it’s a reasonable approach to dealing with that issue our farmers are concerned about. Second, the fertilizer language that you see in section two represents a compromise from a version of the bill that was introduced through the ENC process earlier this year. The League of Municipalities, North Carolina Farm Bureau, the Department of Agriculture and several industry groups support that provision. I’d also like to point out section tens and eleven which relate to trespass on farms and the use of ATVs on farms. Farmers are as you know are very interested in protecting their private property rights and these provisions are a way to help do that. In particular with the first three trespass issue you could have a situation with metal theft that could fall under these positions, or this provision and it’s something we think is a good bill, a good provision in the bill. There are also other provisions relating to the department that Joy spoke about, in particular the ?? provision that we think are important. With that, Mr. Chairman, we commend you, commend the bill to you and urge your support. Thank you very much. Speaker 1: Thank you, Jake. Jim, we have a couple people, some other people that want to speak. Do you want to let them speak now? Speaker 3: Yes, sir. Speaker 1: Okay. Speaker 3: It’s my recommendation, Mr. Chair, that we do hear for those who’d like to make public comment now. My understanding from the Chair is that you’re going to allow them two-minutes and Sergeant at Arms is going to control that for us. Is that correct, Mr. Chair? Speaker 1: That is correct. Scott Mackey, Chair of the Landscape . . . I can’t read the writing there. Speaker 4: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Yes, Scott Mackey, Chair of the Landscape Contractors Registration Board. We’ve been in existence since 1975 as a voluntary landscape contractor’s registration board. We support the entire bill but especially the landscape part of this bill. I can give you a personal example of a small business owner, I don’t know, a small company in Newton Grove, North Carolina. The DOT Rest Area Project that was undertaken, the planting project undertaken about six or eight months ago in the Benson area. It’s about eight miles away from my farm where we produce plants, trees and shrubs and flowers. We have an interest in bidding on that planting project part of that construction at the DOT Rest Area as a company but the number one item on their specification sheet was a requirement to be a licensed general contractor for the planting part of that project. We consider that a serious barrier to entry as landscape contractors. The pork portion of this bill has the limit for planting projects at $30,000 so small outfits, small operators, companies much like myself wouldn’t very often be affected by this. We totally support every part of this bill and as the registration board we find, since it’s completely voluntary it doesn’t supersede the need for a general contractor’s license. This bill fixes that for us. We like the entire bill. As small business owners, as farmers and as growers of plant material in the green industry and the registration board is already in place and would transfer over toward the licensing board. So we don’t really create a new board here. We just transfer one over. We’d ask for your support. Thank you. Speaker 1: Thank you. We also have Michael Curran, which is a business owner in North Carolina Green Industry Council. Speaker 5: Yes, I’m Michael Curran. I’m the owner of Greenscape Incorporated based here in The Triangle and also a member of the Green Industry Council. I really appreciate this time just to communicate with you a couple of important features. The green industry in the most recent economic survey was a 8.6 billion industry. So, it is huge. It’s one of the top four commodity groups in agriculture. The emphasis on environmental and water safety is very much an important part of what we in the landscape industry deal with. One of the things that’s very important is for us to have the ability to enforce the best practices within the landscape industry. As Scott said, we do have a registration act that exists since 1975-76 this . . .

Makes that legislation a practice act and it gives the board the ability to have some teeth in holding people accountable if there is a violation of the law. I serve on the North Carolina Irrigation Contractors Licensing Board and I would just share with you, every time we have had a hearing with someone who has violated that law, I've come out of the hearing saying it is very appropriate that we in those cases hold those people accountable because the damage that they are doing to the consumer and to the environment by not the understanding the professional practices in the industry is very important. So, I urge your support of this bill and believe that it does offer very valuable consumer report. Many of the complaints that we get come directly form the consumer and that has been true on the Registration Board where I have severed in the past and on the Irrigation Board. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Representative Dixon. I believe that is the person i had listed that wanted to speak. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright, very good thank for your comments. Mr. Chairman, I would also believe that it would serve purposes here and smooth out the process if you would be willing to recognize Chris Saunders, who will cover I think its either 3 or 4 just absolutely technical parts of this deal, so we can alleviate them from any further discussion. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Chris. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman. There were some changes made in the Conference Report, i believe those are what Representative Dixon was referring to, I guess just in the interest of being comprehensive I’ll cover all the changes that were made in the Conference Report between the 5th edition which is what passed the Senate and the Conference Report changes. Section 3-D concerning the Landscape Contract Licensing Board, if you look on page 5 of the bill line 15 there’s an exemption from Licensure for any landscaping work for price of all contracts, for labor, material and all other items for a given job site during a consecutive 12 month period is less than $30,000. Previously that number was $25,000 this was raised to $30,000 to bring it in line with the general contractor number. Section 4 refers to the due date of the DPS report on the Commercial Safety Vehicle Alliance North American Standard. Sorry, that is Section 4 on page 12 of the Bill. The date is on line 28. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance North American Standard Inspection Program is a roadside inspection program where if a commercial vehicle is pulled over and given a safety inspection it can receive a decal that’s good for 3 months does essentially says you don’t have to get another comprehensive safety inspection for the duration of that decal. DPS is studying this program, previously they were directed to report back to the Agricultural and Forestry Awareness Study Commission on or before November 1st 2014 that date has been extended to February 1st 2015. Section 6 would amend the chairmanship of the Agricultural and Forestry Awareness Study Commission by keeping the Hells Agricultural and Senate Agricultural Environment and Natural Resources chairs, as the chairs of the Study Commission, as they are now, though it will also allow the President [inaudible] of the Senate and Speaker of the House to each appoint an additional member to serve as co-chair. That is on page 12 and goes on to page 13, the new language is on page 13 lines 19 through 22. Then, as far as purely technical changes, on page 17 a severability clause was added, Section 17-A. And then, there are 4 sections that are new to the Conference Report, 3 of which came out of different versions of the budget. Section 8 is a entirely new section which amends the Horse Industry Promotion Act. That is on page 13 going on to page 14

And that expands the definition of commercial horse feed for the purposes of the horse industry promotion checkoff program for the horse industry to include any commercial feed labelled or marketed for equine use. Previously it was just commercial horse feed meaning any commercial feed labelled for equine use. So the only changes that it adds the words “are marketed”. Section 15 was in the house version of the budget that’s on page, page 16. That section would add to the list of products promoted by the Got to be and sea program seafood and would designate the Got to be and sea campaign as the official agricultural and marketing campaign for the state. Section 16 which is on page 17 was in both versions of the budget. I believe, the House budget had some additional lines along with it but this Section would allow the Pesticide Board to adopt rules to classify private pesticide applicators and I believe, ?? referred to that in her comments. And then Section 17 which is also on page 17 was in both the House and Senate Budgets and it would exempt the Board of Agriculture for room making for the purposes of setting annual admission fees to the State fare and that includes the changes that are in the conference report from the senate version. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Dixon. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr Chair. Thank you a lot. Request that, I think that this facilitated the discussion a great deal. Mr Chair, I think; unless you feel differently, that on those sections that have not received mention, that I’ll make a brief comment and then will, would, would take sections. Let’s, let’s, I suggest you open it up to the members of the committee for questions. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The poll is now open for the members of the committee to make comments or ask questions. You get, you got it? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr Chairman. Several of us were a little puzzled about Section 9 on page 14 that use pesticides on moles except for the star nosed mole and I’m wondering, how you know what kind you have?” I mean, I usually only see the mounds they make unless catches one. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr Chair, we have an expert in the audience that I will suggest that you call on for the answer to that question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] If you would please come straight. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We have an expert ?? Like an analyst. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr John. James Burnette, what am I? I am the Director of the Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division North Carolina Department of Agriculture. According to the Wildlife Resources Commission, there are three species of moles that we have in North Carolina; the eastern mole, the hairy-tailed mole and the star-nosed mole. This amendment would classify two of them as pests not the star-nosed mole. The star-nosed mole is generally found in more aquatic, more riparian, more wet environments. So it is not generally the one that causes damage to lawns and gardens and ornamental plantings in the state. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Representative Brody. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr Chairman. I wanted to ask a question on Section number 7. And the Bill pretty much merits the, the summary here. It said the Commissioner is authorized to appoint as many ?? agriculture law enforcement officers as he or she deems necessary. Are there any restrictions on to how many they appoint, is it a budgetary restriction or is, is there another formula for how they’re going to determine how many law enforcement officers? Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Dixon. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Two important, two important things about this provision. In the event that this takes place, these officers will receive exactly the same training as other folks. The ?? Association has signed off on this and the number, it’s my understanding that the Commissioner would determine the number.

...that he feels would be appropriate for help to help him in his responsiblities in certain events like the state fair and other events like that. To my knowledge there is no set number that will take place it will be at the discretion of the commissioner. And there are no budget implications, it will be people already on the payroll. [Speaker changes] Representative Luebke [Speaker changes] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My concern Chair Dickson is in on section one. And [Speaker changes] I sort of thought that might be where you had a [Speaker changes] Well, it's concerning what's stated on line twelve as the introductory feature, the agriculture operation investigation shall be confidential. And question is why would these kinds of complaints made by citizens be confidential records? As opposed to everything else that we think of in our public life as open records. [Speaker changes] The, thank you Representative Luebke and that is a very important question. Further down the actual complaint, I come in with a complaint against Luebke farms, at that point, my claim against Luebke Farms is not public record. Deaner or the appropriate organization receives that complaint, investigates, at the point that there is a violation it then becomes public record according to all of the statutes that are on the books now. One of the reasons that I think that that's an important provision, and we actually, I can provide you later with the actual number of complaints and stuff, sensationalism can be a problem. The public display of a complaint in many instances rings a bell that it ought not to ring if it's not true. Once the bell is rung, the bell is rung. But later down when you go down further once the investigating organization determines that indeed there has been a violation it then is public record according to the statutes that we have now. [Speaker changes] Representative Luebke [Speaker changes] I understand the point you're making about perhaps the complaint is not a valid one or is made in a very outspoken manner that people might not like, but I think about a lot of public situations that public meet and events well interactions between citizens and the government where citizens might not like something that city council has done. And they might write a letter to the mayor and to the city council members and be quite strong in the language the rhetoric of the letter. That is, nevertheless, a public record. This seems to be similar and so I ask you again, why should this one be confidential when it is parallel to what I said an unhappy citizen with the city council which is a public record? [Speaker changes] Representative Blust, you... [Speaker changes] Mr. Chairman, if I could speak to that point [Speaker changes] You may [Speaker changes] Thank you. It's very important to point out the language the gentleman from Durham is taken verbatim from the state ethics act. This is the way that we police ourselves. It's very important also to point out that unlike the scenerio the gentleman is describing in which a citizen may complain about the action of a public body, we are talking about a private enterprise here, that has received a complaint lodged for something they are alleged to have done. This is in large way no different than if you or I are accused of a crime or of having broken some law. This clearly says that the department will take the steps it needs to figure out if the complaint or if the charge is valid. And

1st speaker. .. And if they determine it is, it does become part of a public record along with all of the worksheets and the work product that they produce but again i would point out that this language comes ??? from the state ethics statue that governs how complaints against legislators are dealt with. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Representative Richardson. [SPEAKER CHANGES] May i Mr. Chairman [SPEAKER CHANGES] yes [SPEAKER CHANGES] may I continue on that, i would say that for its worth Representative Louis what we setup necessarily for the legislative process. It's not the same as the example i gave where citizens might be upset with something involving a private business where the city council should have done something another words it is not a public private distinction i was drawing, i was just drawing attention to the fact that's going to public agency just as Department of Agriculture is a public agency. but i you followed ??? Mr. Chairman with a specific point has been drawn under my attention which is having to do with when the information does become private, public rather and that is the meaning of the term warning. If a there is action challenging complaint is made is the finding of the warning sufficient t tom make the record a public record. [SPEAKER CHANGES] what line are you referring to [SPEAKER CHANGES] I am referring tot the fact that on line sixteen there is the statement of a violation without the definition of the violation so i know one of the possible findings of the department is that is to give a warning to the farm and is giving a warning sufficient definition that does meet the definition of violation so that the information become public information. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Dickson [SPEAKER CHANGES] From my experience Representative Luebke being a swan produces and coming under very strict rules and regulations being in compliance or out of compliance, the language here indicates that anything that the department determines that would put any other out of compliance situation it would be a violation and that is defined. [SPEAKER CHANGES] OK, Thank you [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman if i could stop now and maybe have a comment at the end if i could. [SPEAKER CHANGES] i got you [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative ???? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr chairman. On a point of protecting the confidentiality of the complain i can understand the desire of a private enterprise to protect itself from frivolous complains. But i do wonder lets say that Leubke farms have been making complaints against ??? farms repeatedly that have been found frivolous and some of start to get trough and i have the desire to defend myself legally from serious of frivolous complains form my neighbor would it be in my interest to have legal access to all of the complains that he has filed under the public documents statues so i can show a pattern of frivolous complains to knock down his current complain against me. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Dickson [SPEAKER CHANGES] and with the ??? which you just presented that hypothetical i think you would have the skill and court of law to make your case and actually receive those. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative harry [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mine is a different question if there is anything else on this same thing, mine is on the different part of the deal .Is it OK [SPEAKER CHANGES] I didn't understand what she said [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, is this from the same section, [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes [SPEAKER CHANGES]OK [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, i apologize ???????? joined no name tag club but i am supposed to be here today, but i would say on that, I actually think representative Meyer point if i can address his, I think is a court order if i am not mistaken. >>>>> End OF Audio

Ways be found, sought to get all of that information out. So, I don't think, I think that does help protect in that sense. My question is, it kind of goes back to what Representative Luebke was saying, I just wanted for a point of clarification. If I'm understanding correctly, I think you have to go to DENR's regulations, that it's possible that a violation, that a warning, does not fit the definition of violation for purpose of public records. And I think that could potentially be a concern. For instance, if I'm not mistaken DENR can always make the decision that yes, there's been a violation, we're going to give them a warning. And if that doesn't fit into public records, then I think some concerns within the, okay well this Luebke forms has gotten 10 warnings, but that's never made public record, even though violations have been found. So, I was wondering if I could ask staff to clarify if that would in fact be the situation. SPEAKER CHANGES: The term violation isn't defined in the bill. It isn't defined in the statutes. But it is used hundreds of times in the environmental statutes. And it means purely a violation of the statute, or the rules adopted thereunder. So, I don't think the issue of whether it's a warning, or notice of no violation, it doesn't matter. If there has been a violation of the statutes, or the rules, it constitutes a violation for purposes of this provision. SPEAKER CHANGES: Representative Dixon. SPEAKER CHANGES: Thank you. And that's a very good point. And we did something in the last, we're beginning to make adjustments in the way we handle situations like that, so that the departments don't always have to be punitive on the first visit. And we did some stuff in regulatory form I think that actually addressed that to where we gave them flexibility to educate, to help, rather than just going out and being punitive from the very beginning. SPEAKER CHANGES: If I may follow up? SPEAKER CHANGES: Yes, you may. SPEAKER CHANGES: And that was my point, is that that way DENR can go and not be punitive, but then it still can fit into what we've got policy wise for public records exceptions. So, if I'm hearing that correctly, even if it's a warning, it goes on the public records. SPEAKER CHANGES: Mr. Chairman. SPEAKER CHANGES: Yes. SPEAKER CHANGES: That's the way I would interpret the provision. It says a violation, so if there is a violation in the statutes, or the rules, it fits the criteria to be released. SPEAKER CHANGES: Representative Hurley, another section. SPEAKER CHANGES: Thank you, yes. So in section, it's on page 13, section 7, about the law enforcement responsibility. And my question is are these new officers, or are these officers already in the department? And it appears that they will be sworn officers that may be not sworn officers now? SPEAKER CHANGES: Representative Dixon. SPEAKER CHANGES: Representative Hurley, they will be current employees. They will be sworn officers. The criteria for qualifying for that is identical to how all other sworn officers are sworn in. SPEAKER CHANGES: My concern is the sworn and the unsworn does make a big difference. So, I'm just checking for budgetary problems, situation. Thank you. SPEAKER CHANGES: Anyone else? SPEAKER CHANGES: Representative Lewis. Representative ?? SPEAKER CHANGES: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I thought I was in the queue. Thank you Representative Dixon. I just wanted to note that all the public folks that we've heard today have been supportive of the bill. And as I was looking through section by section, I suppose that people might be opposed to the bill if they believe that there should not be a Contractors Licensing Board. I assume that the moles would be opposed to the bill, if they don't like the pesticide portion. Who else are we aware of that would be opposed to the bill? Notwithstanding some of the concerns that we've heard debated so far. We've not heard anybody from the public come forward against. Are you aware of other groups, or concerns, that people have against the bill? SPEAKER CHANGES: Representative Dixon. SPEAKER CHANGES: Representative Jones, if

if they are they have not approached me and that was one of the reasons that, though we had the votes to concur and never have this meeting, Representative Langdon and I felt that we needed this meeting. And so, I think from my comments, when I said that on the floor and with the postings we've heard, or at least I'm assuming that I've heard from anybody, and I even, on the floor when we put the meeting off, offered to stand at the desk and be chastised for not having this meeting last Friday afternoon. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative McGrady. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to thank the Chairs for holding the meeting and the process being used her and I guess I respond to Representative Jones. I'm pretty comfortable with this bill with the exception of the section 1 provisions and I'm really not sure whether we need an exempt records of investigations of agricultural operations from the state Open Records Laws. That, for me, is the key issue in this bill. There's already a criminal statute that makes it a misdemeanor to file a false report so if somebody files a false report they're just, fight going on between neighbors. There's a way to sort that out and I just, philosophically I think that's the only portion of this bill that is problematical and I really have, the rest of the bill I'm pretty comfortable with. I just wish section 1 wasn't written the way it was. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Dixon. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Representative McGrady, and not having experience as a farmer, which you do not have, and not having the experience of having numerous faults, complaints levied against him I can understand that position. I can show you documentation of where folks flew in airplanes and came back to DENR and accused folks of having poultry litter piled up behind their farms and it was [??]. I can show you a photo that people, very critically and it made the headlines in newspapers widely, that the poor decision that a school the LEA made by allowing their school students to be on ground within a couple of hundred yards of dangerous agriculture, livestock waste and it was not that. So I can't express my support for this principle in this bill any more vigorously than that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman, if I could just- [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I, Representative Dixon, I hear you loud and strong. The only thing I was going to quibble on is my family's been a Christmas tree farmer for a pretty good, long time but not of the same nature that you're reflecting here and I understand that. I'm not, I'm struggling with it. It's not that I'm firm either way. That's the only part of the bill that gives me some hesitation, thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Lewis. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman, may I be recognized for a motion? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Luebke wanted to make a comment then you can make the motion. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I did and my comment is first that, Representative Dixon, I appreciated your answers to my concerns. You haven't persuaded me but that's okay. We don't always vote the same way on House floor, I don't think. But I did want to say to you and to Chair Langdon that I very much appreciate that you have brought this bill back to us for consideration. As you know, a lot of process concerns that I have talked about on the House floor and so I'm deeply grateful to the both of you for bringing the bill here so that we could have a committee discussion. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Lewis. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I move that the committee recommend the House do adopt the conference report. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You've heard the motion, all in favor of the motion say aye. All opposed no. The Aye's have it and the motion

Motion's carried. The bill does go to finance now. Tomorrow morning.