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The Partnership Grows

As it appears that the May 16 "Crossover Deadline" is a lock, the partnership between the state and cities is growing. As League staff works to repair, fix, and alter a significant number of bills to meet the needs of cities and towns of all shapes and sizes, we continue to hear the impact you all are having in working with your local delegations. If you're not calling them about the items in this Bulletin, please do! Or call them about other things you care about! And plan to come to Raleigh for your District Days! We expect to see a proposed state budget and tax reform package come into view in the next two weeks, so stay focused on reaching out to your members. The growth of your relationships has helped us grow our relationships, so thank you for that!
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ACTION ALERT: Contact Legislators Now on Transitional Hold Harmless

The transitional hold harmless payments to local governments that expired last August will not be extended unless action is taken on that front in the coming weeks. With legislators still working on budget preparations and the crossover deadline looming, now is the time to contact your Representatives and Senators to ask them to extend these payments. The payments, worth a total of $14 million to municipalities statewide, could be extended via a bill such as HB 389/SB 307 Restore Hold Harmless Sales Tax Funds, or by the House and Senate including an extension in their budgets. Please continue to contact your legislators, let them know of the importance of these payments to your jurisdiction, and ask them to support extending the transitional hold harmless payments for a period of time that would allow municipalities to better absorb their expiration. Contact: Paul Meyer
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ACTION ALERT: Contact Senators on Tax Reform

Municipal officials need to contact their Senators to remind them that all cities and towns need to be held harmless from a loss of revenue under any tax reforms adopted by the General Assembly. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger this week unveiled the broad parameters of the Senate tax reform package, but provided little in the way of details. The Senate proposal will include a far wider expansion of sales taxes to services than was proposed in SB 394 Lower Tax Rates for a Stronger NC Economy, but it is not known whether a reduction in the local tax rate would accompany this expansion of the tax base. It is clear that the proposal would eliminate the municipal privilege license tax. The Senate proposal includes several controversial provisions, such as imposing the sales tax on prescription drugs, which could make passage of the plan difficult. The Governor and House leaders have not yet committed their support to the Senate plan. Contact: Karl Knapp
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ACTION ALERT: Two Local Electronic Notice Bills Advance - Call Your Members!

Two bills advanced by the House Judiciary Subcommittee B Wednesday would grant certain counties and the municipalities wholly within those counties electronic notice authority. SB 287 Notice Publication by Some Local Govs and HB 504 Local Electronic Notice each grant specific counties and their municipalities the option of publishing legally required notices on their own websites and through other means, rather than purchasing advertising space in a print newspaper. Municipalities chose electronic notice authority as an advocacy goal because current law requires them to spend upwards of $4 million annually on newspaper advertising statewide, at a time when print newspaper readership is declining and newspaper readers are not looking for public notices. Both bills now head to the House floor likely next week. SB 287 has already passed the Senate and would become law if it is approved by the full House without any changes. HB 504 would still need Senate approval before becoming law. Contact: Chris Nida
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Transportation Reform Plan Receives House Approval

The transportation reform plan proposed by Governor Pat McCrory continues to move quickly at the General Assembly, receiving a favorable report from its third committee and passing the full House for the final time this week. Several changes were made to the version of HB 817 Strategic Transportation Investments eventually approved by the House. The major one was an amendment directing more transportation funds to the division level by changing the funding distribution from 40 percent state/40 percent region/20 percent division to 40 state/30 region/30 division. The bill also now does not include any statutory funding for specific projects and includes additional transparency requirements related to the formulae used to allocate the funds. HB 817 now heads to the Senate for consideration. Contact: Chris Nida
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ACTION ALERT: Tax/Tag Costs Increased Under SB 305

In the wake of a two-month delay for final implementation of the new combined motor vehicle property tax collection system ("Tax and Tag"), a bill has been introduced to triple the fees private license plate agencies will be paid to collect property taxes by counties and cities under the new program. Citing the need for more personnel, operators of private tag agencies are promoting SB 305 DMV Commission Contract Changes at the expense of the taxpayers statewide. The League opposes this bill, as it will greatly increase the costs of collection statewide, and undermine the efficiency and low cost of tax collections promoted by the League and the N.C. Association of County Commissioners in 2005 when the original bill was enacted into law. Further, the proposal provides no guarantees of actual hirings to improve customer service by privately owned tag agencies. Please call the members of the Senate Transportation Committee and ask them to oppose this legislation. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Requirement to Record Closed Sessions Amended at League's Request

The House voted in favor of a bill that would require public bodies -- including municipal governing boards -- to keep sound or video and sound recordings of closed sessions, but not before approving an amendment requested by the League. The League had worked with a coalition of other groups to ask that an exception to the requirements of HB 870 Record Closed Sessions of Public Bodies be provided to allow a board to consult with its attorney in closed session without sound or video recordings being created, and then potentially released. Bill sponsor Rep. Jimmy Dixon accepted this request, and the League thanks him for offering the change as an amendment. HB 870 now heads to the Senate for consideration. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Governor Will Let Asheville Water Bill Become Law

Governor Pat McCrory released a statement on Wednesday declaring his intention to let HB 488 Regionalization of Public Utilities become law without his signature. HB 488 is the bill that would forcibly transfer the City of Asheville's water system to a regional metropolitan sewerage district, though it is written as a statewide bill that could apply to other jurisdictions in the future. Earlier this week the Asheville City Council voted unanimously to pursue legal action against the state to prevent the transfer. In his statement, Governor McCrory said, "The issues surrounding the transfer of the assets of the Asheville water department to a regional authority potentially raise a number of complicated inter-governmental issues." Contact: Paul Meyer
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MPO/RPO Ethics Bill Advances

As a needed adjustment to last year's MPO/RPO ethics bill, SB 411 Ethics Requirements for MPOs/RPOs makes it easier to attract and retain members to RPOs and MPOs by limiting newly established ethics requirements to only voting members. The bill has cleared one of the two required House committees, and -- having already been approved by the Senate -- it is not threatened by the pending crossover deadline. During the 2012 session, the League staff had asked for similar changes to those included in this bill. The League thanks primary sponsors Sens. Bill Rabon and Kathy Harrington for introducing this important piece of legislation to benefit city and town officials all across North Carolina. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Nuisance Abatement Authority Expanded Under Senate Bill

In supporting a League Advocacy Goal, the Senate voted to approve SB 264 Abate Nuisances/Drug Sales from Stores Wednesday. The bill overturns existing state case law, which limits the authority of cities to abate public nuisances at establishments by stating that the "activity being abated need not be the sole purpose of the building or place." This distinction has been an important issue for law enforcement agencies statewide. In partnership with, and with much thanks to, primary sponsor Sen. Harry Brown and the N.C. Police Chiefs Association, we are proud to report SB 264 has passed the Senate and has been received by the House for consideration. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Cell Tower Deployment Act Clears House Committees

After a multiple-week negotiation with wireless industry representatives, both the League and the N.C. Association of County Commissioners agreed to the provisions in HB 664 Cell Tower Deployment Act this week. Approved by the House Committee on Public Utilities and Energy Wednesday, the bill in its current form provides authority for cities to block wireless facility collocations if safety is a concern. The bill also retains the application of city ordinances to wireless facility installations on state-owned property. The bill will be considered by the full House Monday. Contact: Paul Meyer
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House Supports Local Annexation, Deannexation Bills

The House voted in favor of three separate bills enacting local annexations or deannexations this week. HB 526 Chadbourn Voluntary Annexation, HB 567 Lumberton Deannexation, and HB 671 Mills River/Deannexation all garnered support from legislators. Each of those bills is also supported by the municipalities they affect. A series of local deannexation bills not supported by the municipalities they affect could still be heard at any time, and the League remains opposed to those bills. Additionally, the House Finance Subcommittee on Deannexation adopted an important set of criteria against which all proposed deannexation bills would be measured, in order to apply consistency in the policy of the House on these matters. Contact: Paul Meyer
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House Reg Reform Proposal Places Rules Under Microscope, Applies Scalpel

The House Committee on Regulatory Reform approved a proposal Wednesday for review of rules that would require a close examination of all state agency rules followed by cuts to or elimination of many of those rules. The new process replaces original language in HB 74 Periodic Review and Expiration of Rules and comes less than one week after the Senate signed off on a sweeping regulatory reform proposal of its own. In the House bill, the state Rules Review Commission would gain a wider scope of authority to determine whether individual rules, which have already been approved in accordance with the state's administrative procedures, must undergo reapproval through rulemaking or expiration. The full House will take up this proposal Monday. Contact: Erin Wynia
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Municipal Incorporation Changes Approved by House

The House has approved HB 442 Municipal Incorporation Changes, which would require applications for incorporation of new towns submitted after August 2013 to include a petition from the owners of at least 15 percent of the parcels in the area proposed for incorporation. This petition would be in addition to the petition from 15 percent of the registered voters. The bill also would place a three-year time limit on the validity of petitions submitted after that date. Contact: Karl Knapp
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Design-Build and Public-Private Partnerships Bill Receives Initial Approval

A bill that would give all local governments the ability to utilize the design-build construction method and public-private partnership financing received its first approval from the House Government Committee yesterday. The League supports HB 857 Public Contracts/Construction Methods/DB/P3, which sets out procedures for solicitation of design-build requests for qualifications as well as the requirements for public-private partnership project financing. The bill would allow these innovative tools for all non-transportation government projects. The League thanks primary sponsor Rep. Dean Arp for leading an extensive stakeholder process that included the League, and for responding to the concerns of all stakeholders. The bill next heads for review by the House Finance Committee. Contact: Erin Wynia
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House Approves Gun Bill Affecting City Regulation on Greenways

The House engaged in impassioned debate both Monday and Tuesday before giving its approval to a bill affecting a wide range of gun regulations. Much of the debate focused on the fact that HB 937 Amend Various Firearm Laws would allow individuals with a concealed carry permit to carry their firearms into places such as college campuses and businesses serving alcohol. However, the bill also prohibits municipalities from banning guns on greenways and bike paths, and it further clarifies the definition of "recreational facilities" where municipalities may prohibit guns. A series of amendments to the bill were proposed on the House floor, but procedural maneuvers prevented them from ever receiving a vote. HB 937 now heads to the Senate for consideration. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Defeated Bill Would Have Helped Disadvantaged Towns

The House Commerce Committee voted on Wednesday not to approve HB 69 Opportunity Advancement Zones, which would have allowed the creation of Opportunity Advancement Zones in census tracts that had a high unemployment rate or low-income population. If located in a Tier 2 or 3 county, these zones would have qualified for larger incentive tax credits and a higher priority for certain state infrastructure funds than the rest of the county. Although intended to help small towns and rural areas, the bill also would have allowed the zones to be established in large cities. The bill failed to receive a favorable report because committee members were concerned that it would funnel more State resources to prosperous big cities. Contact: Karl Knapp
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Rental Registration Bill on Monday Calendar

HB 773 Local Gov'ts/Bldgs/Structures/Inspections which would limit cities' ability to conduct rental registration and inspection programs -- programs cities use to address blighted, high-crime, substandard, and nuisance rental properties for the protection of surrounding property values and residents -- is on the House calendar to be heard Monday evening (May 13). The bill received committee approval week before last. Contact: Erin Wynia

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If You Live HERE: Edgecombe, Franklin, Greene, Halifax, Johnston, Lenoir, Nash, Northampton, Pitt, Warren, Wayne or Wilson County

If your municipality is in one of these counties then May 15 is YOUR District Days! Plan to be in Raleigh to participate in a coordinated effort to have regional groups of mayors, managers and municipal leadership in Raleigh meeting with legislators and attending committee meetings. We already have appointments with eight legislators for Wednesday. RSVP today with your plans to attend.

There is no registration fee and we set the appointment schedule. Groups should arrive at the Albert Coates Local Government Center on the League's campus, then after a short briefing on the Top 3 Hot Issues, proceed to the legislature. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3.

District Days! Schedule

  • Wednesday, May 15 - NCLM Districts 4 and 5
  • Tuesday, May 21 - NCLM Districts 6 and 7
  • Tuesday, June 4 - NCLM Districts 10, 11 and 12

Contact: Jennifer Webb; 919.715.1726