Legislative maneuver poises annexation bill for compromise

Jun 27, 2014

Those who closely follow the legislative process must be shaking their head at the strange situation that has arisen concerning a bill that impacts only a proposed merger between Waynesville and Lake Junaluska and has pitted a Republican against a Republican.

Typically, local bills sail through the General Assembly when they are supported by the local legislative delegation. Both Sen. Jim Davis, who represents all of Haywood County, and Rep. Joe Sam Queen, who represents Lake Junaluska and part of Waynesville agreed to back legislation supported by nearly two-thirds of the Lake Junaluska residents.

Numerous public hearings and workshops found very few Waynesville residents who objected to the issue, either.

However, Rep. Michele Presnell, who represents a portion of Haywood County, is opposed to the annexation and has successfully blocked it in the House.

In an effort to get the bill out of the House Finance Committee where insiders say Presnell has a loyal friend in Chairwoman Julia Howard, Davis stripped the language from a bill that already passed the House and steered the bill with the Lake Junaluska merger language through the Senate again. Supporters were hopeful the bill that needed only a simple vote from the House may land in a more favorable committee. That didn’t happen, and once again, Howard can determine whether the bill gets a hearing.

But all may not be lost — or won, depending on which side you are on. Buddy Young, the Lake Junaluska public works director, said the avalanche of bad emails and backhand maneuvers have created a high profile for the bill, now HB 1080. It could well be the noncontroversial measure deleted from the House bill and re-inserted into another bill may end up in a committee chaired by Davis, meaning some vote-trading could take place.

“The one thing I have learned is anything can happen. I don’t know if it helped our chances,” Young said, “but even though the maneuver didn’t work out like we hoped, it might have a positive influence in getting some action on the bill. We are no worse off than we were.”

Davis agreed, noting in an email that he expected negotiations would be taking place between he and Presnell regarding the annexation bill, as well as the measure that will modify language that could allow the Canton paper mill to receive $12 million in state grant funds to make environmental upgrades at the mill.

Politics is filled with with strange twists and turns. Compromise needs to happen in this instance, and maybe if it is successful, it will be a hopeful sign for other issues where stalemate is ruling the day.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jun 27, 2014 18:02

So if I read the history correctly on this, annexation is frowned upon unless a specific process is followed.  That process includes an official election.  (Not a petition.)  Was the process followed?  If not, why not?  There's no undoing an annexation.  Perhaps doing it correctly might be more important than doing it quickly.

Posted by: Penny R Wallace | Jun 28, 2014 07:49

Mr. Lilly you can get the answers by reviewing the archives of The Mountaineer and Smoky Mountain News. Both have covered this issue extensively.

Posted by: Ron Rookstool | Jun 28, 2014 08:40

Aha, politics at its best. Presnell, who does NOT represent Lake Junaluska, is grabbing the spotlight once again for attention. Seems the politicians representing Lake Junaluska, favor and support what Waynesville and the majority of the Lake Junaluska residences want. Now after reading this article I realize the holdup is because Julia Howard (Chairperson for the Senate) is a loyal friend of Presnells. Just shows once again how the NC politicians support what they want personally, not their constituents want.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jun 29, 2014 09:53

            There is no justification for WE the people having to support the paper mill, a private business.

              If We do, will We get representation on the mill's board? If so I vote to fire the managers and give the employees a 25% wage increase.



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