With the Legislature finally adjourned, political circles in Raleigh were relatively quiet this week. The LeagueLINC Bulletin, published when legislators are in session, will resume when lawmakers return to Raleigh, which may be next year or may be sooner (see below). LINC'ed IN, published when the General Assembly is out of session, will resume next week. Meanwhile, look for the League's End of Session Bulletin report -- with a comprehensive review of legislation tracked by the League and municipalities' accomplishments over the course of the session -- early next week.
Even if the Legislative Building was mostly deserted this week, a few happenings regarding the League, member cities and towns, and state politics are worth noting. One was the extensive article that the influential NC Insider state government news service published this week taking stock of city gains at the Legislature this year. The article relied extensively on a League news release sent out at the end of the session, as well as an interview with League Advocacy Communications Strategist Scott Mooneyham.
The piece began by listing some of the accomplishments:
"Pension-spiking prevention. Added Powell Bill money. Repealing E-Verify requirements on small local government purchases. They're three on a bulleted list of reasons why the N.C. League of Municipalities thought this year's legislative session was generally one of accomplishment for cities and towns across North Carolina, despite notable challenges. 'Even with the privilege license tax issue hanging out there, we still feel like we are in a much better position with the overwhelming majority of legislators than we were a couple of years ago,' said Scott Mooneyham, spokesman for NCLM."
The piece did not shy away from the challenges and misses for municipalities, including discussions about the pending privilege license tax repeal and the failure of legislators to extend film and historic preservation tax credits. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo was among those quoted about the disappointment at seeing legislators balk when it came to extending the tax credits and in approving more business recruiting incentives, which could prove crucial for projects considering southeastern North Carolina. (The full Insider article can be viewed here
, but because it is a subscription-based publication, access may be limited.)
Mayor Saffo also is among those who are now urging Governor Pat McCrory to hold a special legislative session to take up incentives and tax credit-related legislation. Reps. Ted Davis
and Suzi Hamilton
this week joined in the effort to get Governor McCrory to act, issuing a joint statement to that effect. The governor's office has remained noncommittal on the issue, even as Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker has been discussing the need for more business recruiting dollars. See media coverage about a potential special session here
Elsewhere, the League's Municipal Advocacy Goals
process for 2015 continued this week with meetings in Raleigh and Greensboro of Legislative Action Committees ... The League submitted formal comments
to the Federal Communications Commission regarding Wilson's petition for federal pre-emption related to government-owned broadband laws ... Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarland has indicated that the City of Raleigh and state are close to reaching a deal
on the acquisition of the Dorothea Dix property ... Former House Speaker Harold Brubaker was named the state's most influential lobbyist
in a biennial survey conducted by the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research; his former aide from two decades ago, Dana Simpson, was ranked second, while former Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer was third ... Former Sen. Thom Goolsby
, who recently resigned his seat, announced that he would begin lobbying ... White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew announced he was leaving the position; Agnew was credited by the National League of Cities for ensuring that "local voices were heard by the Administration."
Posted on August 29, 2014 by Scott Mooneyham
Posted on August 22, 2014 by Scott Mooneyham
(RALEIGH) -- The North Carolina League of Municipalities, representing 540 cities, towns and villages across the state, thanks municipal officials and legislators for their hard work on many policy matters that benefited municipalities during this legislative session.
Among the key accomplishments that aided municipalities in their goals of providing services that benefit residents, and maintaining strong, economically vibrant cities:
Repeal of a de facto moratorium on municipal environmental ordinances.
An additional $9.4 million in Powell Bill funding, bringing total funding of the municipal transportation program to $146.3 million.
Repeal of burdensome E-Verify requirements on smaller contracts and purchases by local government.
Adding $500,000 for grants provided under the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
Providing $1 million for the Main Streets Solution Fund.
Expanding the uses of reclaimed water for public water supplies.
Requiring primary 911 centers to have back-up capabilities, but without burdening municipal taxpayers with requirements that separate facilities be constructed.
The continuation of incentives for films and TV productions.
Restrictions to prevent pension-spiking in order to strengthen the fiscal integrity of the state and local government retirement systems.
Requiring registration of moped users.
“Cities and towns enjoyed remarkable successes during this legislative session, even as we face significant policy challenges in the future,” said Goldsboro Mayor Al King, president of the N.C. League of Municipalities. “We look forward to working with our legislators and Governor Pat McCrory over the interim and next year to continue to find ways to keep cities healthy and flourishing.”
Mayor King noted that one of the key challenges in the coming year will be finding a replacement source of revenue for the pending repeal of privilege license taxes. “Eliminating the privilege license tax, without some form of replacement revenue, puts more pressure on property tax rates and city services. Maintaining modest property taxes has to be a part of the tax reform equation to promote economic growth.”
Governor McCrory and legislative leaders have committed to helping cities find a replacement source of revenue for the privilege license tax. In coming months, the League will be encouraging a robust discussion regarding the future of municipal finance and municipal services that promote economic growth.
“We believe this topic is vital to the future of North Carolina and to the quality of life that North Carolinians enjoy,” said League Executive Director Paul Meyer. “Economically vibrant cities create vibrant counties and vibrant regions. We look forward to these discussions moving forward.”
About the League
The North Carolina League of Municipalities is a membership association of 540 great hometowns – representing nearly every municipality in the state. The League advocates for its members, from the largest city to the smallest village, on the full range of legislative issues that affect municipalities.
For more than 100 years, the League has promoted – and continues to promote – good government by offering non-partisan advocacy, insurance and other services – as directed by its membership.
Posted on August 21, 2014 by Scott Mooneyham
The Legislature adjourned its 2014 session tonight after passing legislation addressing coal ash clean-up and a stripped-down economic incentives bill that did not include any local sales tax changes. The "sine die" adjournment means that legislators will not return to the capital for any full business sessions this year unless Governor Pat McCrory vetoes any bills or calls legislators back for a special session.
The session ends with the League having achieved a number of accomplishments this year. They include:
The legislative session did begin with the passage of legislation that would repeal the privilege license tax beginning in the next fiscal year, but legislative leaders committed to working with the League to find replacement revenue.
The adjournment came as the House rank-and-file again rejected HB1224 Local Sales Tax Options/Econ. Devpt. Changes. The League opposed this legislation because it does not represent a comprehensive approach to local funding needs and includes only one-half of the local government equation when it comes to economic development. The League was one of the very first groups to speak out against the bill, but as the legislation was resurrected this week it became much more about a battle between those for and against business recruiting incentives in the Legislature and even the electoral politics surrounding House Speaker Thom Tillis' U.S. Senate bid. League staff correctly judged that the bill was likely to fail by more than a few votes, and believed that calling on further engagement of the membership regarding the legislation might do more harm than good.
Legislators did approved SB 729 Coal Ash Management Plan of 2014 before leaving town, which includes a measure affecting groundwater compliance boundaries that should prove beneficial to municipalities in the wake of a court ruling that could have increased costs for some wasterwater systems. The incentives legislation approved on the final day of the session is intended to help Evergreen Packaging in Haywood County, with over 1,000 employees, comply with federal environmental rules. Read more coverage of the Legislature adjourning here.
Posted on August 20, 2014 by Scott Mooneyham
Posted on August 15, 2014 by Scott Mooneyham
The League of Municipalities requests your proposals for legislative and regulatory goals it should pursue during the 2015-16 biennium. These proposals are an integral part of the process for determining the League's Municipal Advocacy Goals for the upcoming legislative sessions. Click here to submit your legislative and regulatory goal proposals.
The deadline to submit proposals is August 31, 2014.
Posted on August 12, 2014 by Cara Bridges
Posted on August 11, 2014 by Scott Mooneyham
This weekend’s unexpected events at the General Assembly create plenty of uncertainty in the weeks and even months ahead. The good news is that many issues important to municipalities remain in play; the bad news is that many issues important to municipalities remain in play. One certainty is that the lack of agreement between the House and Senate regarding adjournment was dictated, to a significant degree, by the two chambers’ very different positions on historic preservation and film tax credits, and local-option sales tax legislation.
The Legislature remains technically in session, with both chambers having to hold at least “skeleton” sessions every four days to comply with a requirement of the state constitution. That will remain the case unless and until the two sides agree to adjourn either to a date certain later in the year or “sine die,” until next year. The session remains alive after the Senate sent the House an adjournment resolution on Friday calling for the General Assembly to reconvene on Aug. 14, with legislators allowed to consider any vetoes by Governor Pat McCrory, litigation against the state, and legislative appointments. The plan called for legislators to return to Raleigh again on Nov. 17 to consider Medicaid reform and coal ash clean-up.
The House refused to accept those terms, and sent back to the Senate an adjournment resolution that would have allowed the legislature, on Aug. 14, to also consider coal ash clean-up, health care coverage for autism spectrum disorder and a range of regulatory, environmental and revenue-related legislation. In short, the House wanted to keep in play its version of SB 763 Revenue Laws Tech. Changes and Other Changes and keep alive some issues in HB 1224 Local Sales Tax Options/Econ. Devpt. Changes after walking away from a conference committee agreement reached by House and Senate negotiators. The Senate has yet to agree to those terms.
It is significant that the House did not choose to put local-option sales tax changes into SB 763, which became its preferred vehicle for late-session moves regarding revenue, tax and tax credit legislation. Your efforts on these issues proved effective. Keep them up!
For League members, the unfolding events mean that regulatory and other proposed policy changes affecting cities and towns are still possible. SB 734 Regulatory Reform Act of 2014, another bill where the House and Senate have yet to resolved their differences, would repeal municipal protest petitions and restrict zoning ordinances that call for aesthetic controls. The current version of SB 763 contains the extension of historic preservation and film tax credits, a League advocacy goal that League staff has diligently lobbied on this session. The latest version of HB 1224 contains changes to the local-option sales taxes that the League has opposed, but also calls for a study of historic preservation tax credits.
League staff will continue to monitor the fluid situation at the Legislature and keep pressing for outcomes favorable to municipalities on all of these critical issues. We thank you all for your continued engagement on these matters. Many of them may yet be resolved in ways favorable to keeping municipalities strong and vibrant. Stay tuned, remain optimistic, and keep letting your legislators know where you stand!
Posted on August 04, 2014 by Scott Mooneyham
Legislators raced to the finish line of their session this week, before possibly pushing that finish line a little further down the road. You can read all about the flurry of action in this week's LeagueLINC Bulletin
. The Senate approved a budget in the wee hours of Friday morning and left town, with the House expecting to give its final approval to the budget on Saturday. But the Senate's adjournment resolution calls for them to return for a day in August and a day in November, and if the House does not agree to the Senate's resolution, both chambers could be forced to hold skeleton sessions for the foreseeable future. All of this drama, along with the myriad other city issues that were in play as the legislative session drew to a close, are covered in this week's Bulletin
Posted on August 01, 2014 by Chris Nida
Please contact your House and Senate members and express your support for a provision in SB 763 Revenue Laws Technical Changes and Other Changes that would preserve the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits. The tax credits were included in the House version of the budget, but apparently dropped from the final budget bill conference report. This morning, the House Finance Committee added the provision to retain the tax credits to SB 763. League staff worked with House members this morning on the issue, and would particularly like to thank Rep. Bob Steinburg for his efforts to revive the tax credit provision.
The House is expected to vote on the measure on the floor on Thursday. It is equally crucial to contact your Senators regarding the measure, as they will ultimately have to approve the House-sponsored change and did not include the measure in their version of the budget. Let those senators know that this tax credit was established at the behest of one of their own, the late Hamilton Horton, that the original legislation enjoyed bipartisan support, and that this tax credit has generated nearly $1.5 billion in investment in North Carolina since 1998. The N.C. Department of Commerce estimates the tax credits create 2,190 jobs each year. They have been utilized in 90 of 100 counties.
Please contact your legislators, and ask them to support SB 763 and the inclusion of the historic preservation tax credit in the bill.
Posted on July 30, 2014 by Scott Mooneyham
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