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Senator McLaurin, Representative Wells and Legislative Assistant Mary Marchman Receive League Awards

Senator Gene McLaurin of Rockingham and Representative Andy Wells of Hickory were recognized earlier this week as recipients of the League's Community Champion Award for 2014. The League presents the award to legislators who make strong efforts to work with municipal officials and ensure that municipal interests are represented during the legislative process. The awards were presented during CityVision 2014, the League's annual conference held in Greensboro.

The League also presented its inaugural General Assembly Ambassador award to Legislative Assistant Mary Marchman. The award recognizes a legislative staff member for professionalism and selflessness while carrying out his or her duties at the Legislature. Ms. Marchman has been a legislative assistant for the last 11 years, working both the House and Senate. She currently serves as legislative assistant to Senator Kathy Harrington of Gastonia.

"Each of these award recipients is a true champion and true professional. Their service at the Legislature has been invaluable to the state, its cities and towns, and the residents of North Carolina," said League Executive Director Paul Meyer. League President Ronnie Wall presented the awards to Senator McLaurin, Representative Wells and Ms. Marchman.

In remarks to those attending Monday night's dinner at the Koury Convention Center, Senator McLaurin noted the relative inexperience of the current legislature and how many legislators do not come to the job with a municipal perspective. He challenged city and town officials to take that perspective to their legislators. Representative Wells discussed his upbringing as the son of a city manager, and noted how issues that are allowed to fester locally can end up before legislators. Ms. Marchman gave a witty speech on how to tactfully approach and discuss issues with lawmakers. The League extends it congratulations and thanks to Senator McLaurin, Representative Wells and Ms. Marchman, and looks forward to working with each in the years to come.


 (Top) League Executive Director Paul Meyer, right, and  Community Champion Award recipient Senator Gene McLaurin; (Middle) Burlington Mayor and League President Ronnie Wall, left, presents Community Champion Award to Representative Andy Wells; (Bottom) Mayor Wall presents the General Assembly Ambassador Award to Legislative Assistant Mary Marchman

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Thank You for Attending CityVision 2014!

CityVision 2014, the League's annual conference held earlier this week in Greensboro, was a great time and a great success, with attendees getting the chance to learn from a range of panel discussions, educational sessions and informative speakers. Futurist and economist Rebecca Ryan delivered the keynote address Monday morning, discussing technological and demographic trends that increasingly involve marketplace disruptions that require responses from elected leaders. Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter, as Monday's lunch speaker, provided his take on a changing Legislature and municipalities' place in this shifting world. On Monday night, the League's officers were installed. Burlington Mayor Ronnie Wall was sworn in as League President; Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens as 1st Vice President; and Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny as 2nd Vice President.

Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter speaks at Delegates' Luncheon

Before, between and after these events, sessions were held on topics including economic development, auditing and financial reports, and intergovernmental cooperation. We hope that many of you had the chance to attend one of two sessions on effective advocacy at the Legislature. One panel was made up of Senator Chad Barefoot of Wake Forest, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, and Mark Binker of WRAL-TV in Raleigh; the second consisted of Representative Andy Wells of Hickory, Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins, and Loretta Boniti of Time Warner Cable News-14. Both Senator Barefoot and Representative Wells took some lively and at times tough questions from substantial audiences of municipal officials. Senator Barefoot, who has been key in helping the League and cities during the past legislative session, urged municipal officials to emphasize their non-partisan role and non-partisan issues. You can find some of the session presentations here.


Party on the Moon plays into the night during NCLM Celebration

Sunday's events included the Host City Event, a reception held at ACC Hall of Champions at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. The League's Board of Directors met earlier in the day, with board members narrowing the legislatives goals that had been proposed by League policy committees in anticipation of December's Advocacy Goals Conference. Of course, the best part of the conference was seeing old friends and meeting new ones, with the opportunity to hear what is happening in your communities and to talk about plans going forward.

All of us on the League's Governmental Affairs team and the entire League staff would like to thank you all for attending, for making the event a success, and for taking the time chat about a common goal -- making cities and towns better and stronger. We also want to thank Goldsboro Mayor Al King for his past year of service as League president. And thank you to the City of Greensboro, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, and to the volunteers from the city. We look forward to doing it again in Winston-Salem in 2015.

Burlington Mayor Ronnie Wall (right), the League's newly-installed President, and Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny, League 2nd Vice President 

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Legislative Study Committee Hears Privilege License Tax Concerns

A legislative staff member indicated early this week that lawmakers may begin discussing a legislative fix related to the pending repeal of the privilege license tax early in next year's legislative session. Staff member Trina Griffin told members of the Revenue Laws Study Committee earlier this week that at least 52 cities and towns in North Carolina would be short of revenue in the current fiscal year because of billing cycles for privilege license taxes that do not neatly coincide with the fiscal year. She cited the predicament for those cities as a reason to begin looking at the issue soon after the Legislature convenes in January.

Griffin, in a article published by The Insider state government news service, said the information was based on a survey from the League. The article also cited the commitments from legislative leaders made at the League's behest to address the revenue loss. The League, in comments to The Insider, focused on the potential negative effects for all of the more than 200 cities and towns that collect privilege license taxes. "The urgency to find a legislative solution to help make up for this revenue loss exists regardless of a city or town's billing or budget cycle," said League Advocacy Communications Director Scott Mooneyham. "Legislative leaders have indicated that they understand that urgency and will work to address the revenue loss."

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League Comments on EPA's Proposed Impaired Water Listing

The League submitted comments Tuesday regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to add 52 bodies of water to the state's impaired water list, also known as the 303(d) list. The listing is named after Section 303 (d) of the Clean Water Act. The League, in the comments, says the proposed decision by the EPA to add waters to the list will adversely affect the continuity of the State's listing process in 2016. The League notes that the Clean Water Act and related rules give states the responsibility and authority to develop listing methodology. Read the full comments here.

Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act requires states to evaluate the health of their waters and list those exhibiting impairments every two years. Once listed, impaired waters most often become subject to water pollution restrictions for the affected watershed, usually in the form of a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). Local governments, as the holders of wastewater and stormwater discharge permits, bear responsibility for reducing their discharges to waters under a TMDL, often a costly requirement. Contact: Sarah Collins

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Attend the Advocacy Goals Conference in December!

We hope you will join us for our Advocacy Goals Conference on Dec. 11 in Raleigh, and the pre-conference legislative reception on the night of Dec. 10 to be held at the Oxford Pub in downtown Raleigh. The conference is where the entire League membership will finalize the legislative and regulatory goals package to guide League staff during the upcoming legislative biennium.

The conference will mark the culmination of months of work by the League's policy committees, League staff and the League Board of Directors to develop a set of legislative and regulatory goals that reflects the wishes and needs of the League membership. Once established, those goals will be used by the League's Governmental Affairs team as a guide during the 2015-16 legislative biennium and will help legislators to understand municipal concerns during the session. We hope to see you there!

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Decision Leaves Charlotte Airport Under City Control

A Superior Court judge this week issued a permanent injunction blocking a regional commission from running Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The ruling means that the City of Charlotte will continue to oversee airport operations and that legislative attempts to put the airport under the control of the Charlotte Airport Commission have been effectively blocked for the time being. Judge Robert Ervin also denied a motion from the state to dismiss the city's lawsuit. 

Ervin's ruling, though, would allow the commission to oversee the airport if the Federal Aviation Administration approved of the management and governance changes. So far, the FAA has shown little indication that it will approve of the change, and has said it will not consider a commission request to transfer control unless the City of Charlotte asks it to do so. Read more about the ruling here.

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Kevin Leonard to Lead NC Association of County Commissioners

Kevin Leonard has been named the executive director of the N.C. Association County Commissioners and will replace David Thompson early next month. Leonard has been working for the NCACC since 2009 and currently serves as deputy director. He previously worked at the state Department of Labor, as a lobbyist with the Womble Carlyle law firm, and as both a congressional and state legislative staff member.

The League congratulates Kevin and looks forward to continuing to work with him and our fellow local government advocacy group in the future. 

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Five Municipalities Honored at 2014 Housing NC Awards Luncheon

Five municipalities received awards at the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency's 25th annual Housing North Carolina Awards Luncheon on Wednesday. The cities of Wilmington and Charlotte were both recognized for excellence in supportive housing for people with special needs, while the cities of Jacksonville and Asheville received awards for leadership in homeownership development. The City of Asheboro received an award for an affordable housing development. Jacksonville's award was accepted by Council Member Jerome Willingham, who explained how the city donated land and leveraged private funds to redevelop a distressed area of town, creating a community of affordable single family homes. Mayor David Smith accepted an award on behalf of the City of Asheboro in honor of two city-initiated public-private partnerships to create affordable housing in the heart of the city, one of which involved restoring an historic mill. We appreciate the Agency's recognition of our members' efforts and extend our congratulations to each of the winners.