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Debra Conrad, a Forsyth legislator behind the delay of Jordan Lake Rules
By John Sanford Friedrich
Just like a patch of honeysuckle growing wildly in a riparian forest buffer, HB44 keeps spreading its tangling webs into ever more avenues of environmental degradation.
Rep. Debra Conrad (R-74 Forsyth) is at first blush an odd choice for primary sponsor of the bill. She is not on any committee regarding the environment or even agriculture. The owner of Conrad Marketing Specialists, LLC would seem to have no native interest in these subjects. Indeed her inaugural 2012 campaign was largely self-funded, though $4,000 from the N.C. Association of Realtors might have encouraged her to look this way. Realtors are often aligned with building companies, as any house not built or delayed due to environmental concerns is one commission lost to a realtor.
The Jordan Lake Rules, according to our meek DENR “are a nutrient management strategy designed to restore water quality in the lake by reducing the amount of pollution entering upstream. Restoration and protection of the lake is essential because it serves as a water supply for several thriving communities, as well as a prime recreation area for more than a million visitors each year.”
These rules were adopted in 2009 but have had their implementation delayed to this day. HB44, as RestoreNC earlier reported, began modestly enough as a change in notification to property owners with unkempt vegetative growth. The State Senate has added a provision to ensure both county and city governments “shall not require compliance” with any rule or regulation considered voluntary. This means that Triangle local governments cannot start on the implementation of these Jordan Lake Rules, among others.
Curiously Rep. Conrad served for 18 years as a commissioner for Forsyth County. Following two landslide victories in 2012 and 2014, it seems she no longer has much concern for the prerogatives of local governments, prerogatives she so recently valued.
One change that might make her more tolerant of the Senate hijacking this bill and gutting regulations for a watershed her constituents do not have to drink from might be due to Conrad’s daughter, Erica. According to Conrad’s website, her daughter is now “a senior policy advisor in the North Carolina Senate.”
She has also been noted by pro-life advocates for her support of a 72 hour mandatory waiting period.