NC court order threatens executive branch power over Smithfield hog waste funds

North Carolina news

FILE- In this July 21, 2017, file photo, young hogs owned by Smithfield Foods gather around a water source at a farm in Farmville, N.C. A federal appeals court on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 upheld a 2018 jury verdict that led to awarding monetary damages to neighbors of a North Carolina industrial hog operation for smells and noise they said made living nearby unbearable. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina Court of Appeals panel’s ruling threatens the ability of elected executive branch leaders to control non-tax dollars without legislative permission.

The panel’s majority ruled this week that Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein had to deposit money paid annually by Smithfield Foods as part of an agreement over hog waste into the state’s coffers.

The money had been held in a private bank account for grants designed to enhance the state’s environment.

The state Supreme Court upheld the Smithfield arrangement in April with the attorney general.

The lower-level appeals court’s decision could mean the General Assembly can decide specifics of how to spend millions received.

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