By Jon Evans | February 17, 2021 at 2:46 PM EST – Updated February 17 at 4:56 PM
RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) – After local leaders raised concerns regarding increasing amounts of litter along roads and highways across southeastern North Carolina, lawmakers from the region have signed on as sponsors to House Bill 100, the Highway Cleanup Act, filed this week by Rep. John Bell (R-Wayne). Rep. Brenden Jones (R-Columbus) and Rep. Charles Miller (R-Brunswick) signed on as co-sponsors.
HB100 increases penalties for individuals found guilty of littering, depending on the amount of debris. It also creates the Cops Clean NC program, allocating $500,000 to the North Carolina Department of Transportation to provide grants to sheriff’s offices in rural counties to pay overtime for officers’ efforts to clean up litter.
“The Highway Cleanup Act is an important first step in reducing the litter that has plagued our state roadways,” Rep. Jones said in an email news release. “This bill will increase the penalties for littering to hold those that do so accountable and raise awareness of what citizens can do to help keep our roadways clean through adoption programs. I’m looking forward to working with organizations in my community to make this bill a success.”
Late last year, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo sent a letter to the Wilmington MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) saying citizen complaints are on the rise about litter. He requested more funding be allocated for roadway clean-up. Bladen County Commissioners sent a letter to Governor Roy Cooper in December, formally requesting the state’s help in solving the county’s trash problem.
“Litter on our highways has become increasingly prevalent not only in my district, but statewide,” Rep. Miller said in a statement in the same news release. “It is an unsightly, negative reflection of our scenic coastline and it has detrimental effects on the waterways and ecosystem. I ask for all North Carolinians to be more responsible, properly disposing of their trash, and checking that their cargo loads are secure before entering the roadway.”
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