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NC Senate bill ends regional development groups

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A bill abolishing regional economic development commissions has received initial approval from the North Carolina Senate.

The bill tentatively passed the Senate Monday with opposition from rural lawmakers who argued the bill cedes power to Raleigh at the expense of poor regions. The bill dissolves the seven regional economic development commissions and transfers their functions to the Department of Commerce, which will send at least one employee to work directly in one of eight newly created zones.

Several other departments would also have to send at least one employee.

Republican Sen. Harry Brown of Jacksonville said his bill helps remove an ineffective layer of bureaucracy from business recruitment and force department officials to work outside of Raleigh.

The bill will return for a last vote before heading to the House.