There will be NO FERRY TAX for 2012-2013. Because coastal citizens stood up for our rights, we won! Coastal citizens won a substantial victory through in the NC legislature. Beaufort, Hyde, and Pamlico County citizens are shielded from ferry taxes for another year. There is a moratorium on new tolls and increases in existing tolls from 7/1/12 through 6/30/13.
Here are the details of the budget process:
House Bill #950/Session Law 2012-142 is “the Budget Bill”: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2011/Bills/House/PDF/H950v7.pdf
The budget passed the legislature on 6/21/12 with no new tolls on the Knotts Island ferry and the Ocracoke-Hatteras ferry, thanks to retiring Rep. Tim Spear and Rep. Bill Owens. The Budget also contained a one-year moratorium on tolls for the Minnesott Beach-Cherry Branch ferry, thanks to the continuing efforts of Rep. Norman Sanderson (Republican, District #3). The Budget was vetoed by Governor Perdue on 6/29/12, and the veto overridden on 7/2/12. The specific ferry language begins on page 129 of the Budget Bill.
Rep. Bill Cook (Republican, District #6) specifically requested further ferry tax relief, and got it in Senate Bill #187 “Modifications/2011 Appropriations Act”: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2011&BillID=s187.
In SB#187, with a push from Rep. Bill Cook in the House, the Senate agreed to a one year moratorium on new tolls and a moratorium on all increases in existing tolls on other ferries. The Bay River-Aurora ferry would have had a first-time toll starting immediately, but for the efforts of Rep. Cook.
We need to study the impacts of ferry tolls on struggling coastal counties.
We wanted a Study Bill with citizen participation. Now it appears the issue may be addressed by the Legislative Research Commission before the 2013 legislative session. For more information on this legislative entity, see LRC site: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/DocumentSites/browseDocSite.asp?nID=147.
Hyde County will continue to enjoy its TOLL FREE Ocracoke-Hatteras ferry. Currituck County will continue its FREE Knotts Island ferry.
Beaufort, Craven, and Pamlico counties have continuing free ferry service during the 2012-2013 moratorium. Yes, we have more work to do!
We will continue to fight to ensure NO FERRY TAX! Please thank Rep. Bill Cook and Rep. Norman Sanderson. We will need their continuing help next year.
Thank you to everyone who worked for this victory. Many of you came to Raleigh, and many more called and emailed legislators. We appreciate activists Greg Piner, Larry Summers, and the Beaufort, Hyde, and Pamlico County Commissioners and County Managers. We worked together to spread the word to coastal citizens. Thank you for the special efforts of Ocracoke Commissioner Darlene Styron and other Ocracoke citizens who started earlier and traveled farther to defend their island.
By maintaining political pressure on legislators, we prevailed. Legislators from across North Carolina became aware of our ferries. Rep. Brubaker lives in Asheboro, home of the NC Zoo. Rep. Brubaker spoke in favor of SB#187 in the House debate, and stated he had learned more about ferries in the last few hours than he ever wanted to know! Coastal legislators and citizens worked together to educate legislators from across North Carolina. We forced them to recognize the significance of the ferry tax issue. Thanks to everyone who helped!
We will continue to work during the interim between legislative sessions. There is much work to do to protect our free ferries on a permanent basis. As information is available about a ferry study by the Legislative Research Commission, we will notify you immediately.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.
We thank the Lord for our nation and political system in which citizens are free to speak and change the course of government action. Our forefathers fought for freedom. They spoke, fought, and died to form a new nation, with individual liberties for citizens. We must keep up the fight to remain free! Stay involved in the political process!
Happy Fourth of July!
Henri & Joe
Joe & Henri McCleesMcClees Consulting, Inc.