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Coal ash is the waste that remains when coal is burned. It is usually collected in a dump, known as a pond. North Carolina has more than 30 such sites in 14 different locations across the state. A pipe running under one of the ponds run by Duke Energy in Eden NC ruptured in February of 2014. The coal ash spilled, largely affecting the Dan River which flows into Virginia. The spill is the third largest of its kind in U.S. history.Many see potential complications because North Carolina's governor, Pat McCrory, worked for Duke Energy for 28 years.

General Assembly Adjourns With Medicaid and Teacher Assistant Plans Unfinished

photo of the North Carolina Senate
Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC

  After a prolonged legislative session marked by delayed talks and Republican infighting, the General Assembly has finished its work and adjourned for the year.

The short session dragged on as lawmakers struggled to compromise over key issues, including teacher pay and coal ash. Legislators managed to strike a last-minute deal on Wednesday that would work to remove coal ash from 33 ponds across the state.

But they left a few items unfinished. House and Senate lawmakers couldn't agree on how to reform the state's Medicaid program and didn’t make a last-minute budget fix to help protect teacher assistant jobs.

They also failed to pass legislation to create a new job incentive program backed by the governor.

House Speaker Thom Tillis says his chamber would be open to reconsidering the incentives package if Governor Pat McCrory decides to call them back. 

“There were things that we didn't get done,” Tillis said. “…that would be helpful to create jobs in Brunswick county and Columbus county and a number of other places.”

But lead negotiators say they're proud of what the General Assembly has accomplished, including giving teachers what they consider to be a much-needed pay raise.

Tillis also noted how lawmakers from both sides of the aisle worked hard to support one another.

“There's no other legislature in the time that I've been Speaker that's done what we’ve done by getting Democrats to join with us on 11 veto overrides, on major regulatory reform, on medical malpractice reform, I'm very proud of it,” he said.

Lawmakers will return to Raleigh in January, unless Governor Pat McCrory decides to call them back before then for a special session.

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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