Hatteras ferry tolls are back in pending budget
The $20.1 billion Senate package is around $127 million less than the House version.
But the Senate bill would implement immediately toll increases on the Ocracoke-mainland routes, and add tolls on all currently free routes. The House version delays the toll plan for a year.
“The Senate’s version of the state budget demonstrates a lack of understanding of the urgent needs of coastal citizens,” said an email from Henri and Joe McClees, who were hired by Hyde, Beaufort and Pamlico counties to lobby against the ferry tolls.
“This is a continuation of our fight to protect coastal citizens,” the McClees’ email stated. “We cannot become complacent during these last weeks of the legislature.”
“The NC House and Governor agree with us, but the Senate has not seen the light,” said the McClees’.
The budget approved by the Legislature last year exempted the Hatteras and Currituck ferry routes from being tolled.
While not specifying toll rates, the legislation directs the state Board of Transportation to establish them. The Senate bill also says that an executive order freezing any new or increased rates is unconstitutional.
The bill cited an opinion from the Department of Justice saying “a direct conflict between a law enacted by the General Assembly and an executive order issued by the Governor must be resolved through implementation of the law,”
It goes on to say that “the General Assembly, therefore, hereby declares Executive Order No. 116 an unconstitutional attempt to exercise authority that the Governor does not possess and, as such, the Department of Transportation shall disregard Executive Order No. 116 and shall collect the tolls required by S.L. 2011-145 and this section.”
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