Friday, March 09, 2007

Update From The Committees 03/09/07

High-Risk Health Insurance Pool - After gaining approval of the House Health Committee last week, legislation to create a "high-risk" insurance pool (House Bill 265) was approved by the Insurance Committee on Tuesday and will next be considered by the Finance Committee. The legislation would create a high-risk health insurance pool to allow people with pre-existing health conditions to get health insurance at more affordable rates. The program would be funded through enrollee premiums and insurer assessments. A similar bill was approved by the House last year, but the Senate did not consider it before adjournment.

Hog Farm Moratorium - A 10-year state moratorium on new hog farms and their waste lagoons would be expanded for three more years under a bill (House Bill 275) approved Wednesday by the House Agriculture Committee. The moratorium, which has been extended several times since first approved in 1997, is currently set to expire September 1, 2007. The committee approved extending the ban until 2010, despite requests by two environmental groups to permanently ban waste lagoons in North Carolina. The current waste lagoon and sprayfield system is harmful to the environment and public health and such a ban would pressure the hog industry and others to develop less expensive technology for farmers, according to the groups. The bill now goes to the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources for consideration. Carolyn Justice (R-New Hanover) will soon be introducing a separate bill that will permanently ban new lagoons and require the phase out of existing lagoons.

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