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Deciphering the Election Results

With the 2014 election pretty much done, the press and punditry turned to deciphering what it all meant in the days after the race. The results in North Carolina will soon leave Republicans owning both of the state's U.S. Senate seats. The GOP also will continue to hold veto-proof majorities in the state House and state Senate. For more details on the results, see the League's earlier recap here. Unofficial results also can be found at the State Board of Elections website.

While the turnout for a mid-term election set a record in North Carolina, the 2.7 million votes cast were put into a little perspective over time. The total numbers were only 17,500 more than in 2010, and that in a growing state. And this analysis from WRAL-TV in Raleigh shows that, as a percentage of registered voters, the voter participation rate was about the same as the last six mid-term elections, going back to 1994. That 44 percent statewide turnout compared to just 39 percent in Mecklenburg County. A handful of rural counties saw lower turnout. The State Board of Elections reported that just 20 percent of registered voters in Warren County cast ballots. In the U.S. Senate race won by Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis over Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, you can see which counties went blue and red here

Based on unofficial results from Tuesday, Republicans in the state Senate appeared to increase their majority by one seat, to 34-16, with the defeat of incumbent Democratic Sen. Gene McLaurin of Rockingham. But former Raleigh Mayor Tom Bradshaw had still made no decision Friday about whether to call for a recount in Senate District 15 while awaiting a vote canvass. Unofficial returns put Republican John Alexander ahead by 717 votes.

In the House, a lot of the post-election attention was on Buncombe County, where Republican Reps. Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey lost their seats. This piece, from the Asheville Citizen-Times, looks at the reaction to the results, including from city and county government officials who were not pleased with Rep. Moffitt's representation. Those two races, and loses by two more incumbent Republicans in Wake and Lee counties, combined with a GOP pick-up of an open seat in Person County, meant that Republicans saw a net decrease of three seats in the state House. Hydraulic fracturing, and opposition to it, helped shape the outcome in at least three of the contests, as environmental groups poured large sums of money into the races supporting the Democrats.

Exit polls, meanwhile, showed that concerns about the economy and dissatisfaction with President Obama helped to determine the outcome in the U.S. Senate race. Senator Hagan outperformed Speaker Tillis in urban areas, but not by the same margins that she won those areas in 2008. Read more about exit poll results here.

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With Election Over, Speaker's Race Will Heat Up

With the election results in, attention will turn to another race decided not by the larger electorate, but by members of the state House. For months, House members have been jockeying to replace House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is now U.S. Sen.-elect Thom Tillis. House Republicans could meet within a couple of weeks to chose their caucus nominee for the top job in the House. Because the GOP holds an overwhelming majority of seats in the chamber, the caucus nominee would become the Speaker as long as Republican House members remain united behind that choice.

The three candidates considered to be favorites for the post are Reps. Tim Moore of Kings Mountain, Leo Daughtry of Smithfield and Mike Hager of Rutherfordton. The Gaston Gazette, in this piece, recently looked at fundraising by all three on behalf of other candidates, making the point that those efforts play a key role in building support ahead of a vote for House Speaker. The article noted that Representative Moore had contributed roughly $250,000 to other candidates and political committees, far more than his potential rivals for the post.

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Fees for DOT Services to be Considered by Legislators

A legislative oversight committee will receive a suggested list of fees that developers and others would pay to cover of the costs of services provided by the state Department of Transportation. The move comes in response to a legislative directive to the DOT to report on what new or increased fees would be needed to cover the full costs of services related to billboard regulation, subdivision construction, oversized trucks using highways, and other DOT activities. In some comments to the Board of Transportation, officials have noted that local governments charge for similar services. Builders and others, though, say they get much more prompt responses from local government planners and regulators than from the DOT. Read more from the Raleigh News & Observer about the proposed fees here and here.

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Attend the Advocacy Goals Conference!

Deadlines are nearing for the League's Advocacy Goals Conference to be held December 11 in Raleigh. The packet for the conference is now available at this online link, with materials including a list of proposed legislative, regulatory and federal goals (as approved by the NCLM Board of Directors last month). The 41 legislative and 7 regulatory proposed policy goals will be narrowed down to a final package of 25 legislative and 5 regulatory priorities at the conference. Two federal goals also have been proposed. 

The conference will take place at the Raleigh Convention Center beginning at 8:30 a.m. We hope you also will also join us for a pre-conference reception Wednesday, December 10 from 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. at The Oxford in downtown Raleigh. The deadline for conference registration is Monday, December 1, while a deadline for securing accommodations through the League at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel is Friday, November 14.

For more information or to register, visit Designating a voting delegate for the conference can be done ahead of the event, but is separate from actual conference registration. You can designate a voting delegate by going here. Each member municipality in attendance receives one vote. 

Make your voice heard as the League prepares for the next legislative biennium. Attend the 2014 Advocacy Goals Conference!

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Governor Touts Interstate Route to Hampton Roads

Governor Pat McCrory is touting the idea of an interstate highway connecting Raleigh to the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Governor McCrory discussed the proposed interstate corridor in Elizabeth City last Friday, promoting the potential economic benefits for an entire region of state. The project isn't funded and although bills have been filed in Congress seeking the interstate designation, they currently are seen as long shots for passage. Read more about the Governor's comments and the proposal here.
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Planning Continues for Gas Pipeline

Virginia-based Dominion Resources Inc. has asked federal regulators to begin environmental review of a proposed $5 billion natural gas pipeline that would stretch from Harrison County, West Virginia, to Robeson County, North Carolina. The action represents the first step in a long process to seek approval for the proposed 550-mile pipeline. The Virginia-based company is partnering with Duke Energy to build the pipeline. Dominion has also begun sending letters to property owners along the proposed route seeking to survey the properties. Read more about the project and the request to federal regulators here, and more about the survey letters here.

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Understanding the Evolution of Cities?

The Atlantic's CityLab recently took a gander out how scholars may be nearing a more complete understanding of how and why cities develop like they do. If so, it could represent a more simple  understanding of city growth. Or maybe not. The piece concludes by saying that research and theories about city growth and evolution may be in their early stages. You can read the article here.