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Municipal Issues Feature Strongly in Legislature's Final Debates

July 03, 2012

After a very difficult 2012 short session for our North Carolina cities and towns, we can give you the welcome news that the General Assembly adjourned today sine die. A detailed report will be completed in the next two weeks.


The House was in session until midnight last night (Monday) and we were in the Senate gallery still working at 4:15 am this morning. We will be hanging the ‘gone fishin’ sign out shortly for a few days. My personal thanks to the entire GA team but especially Paul Meyer and Erin Wynia who have worked extremely long and odd hours under sometimes very difficult circumstances. 


Below are some of the issues of interest to municipalities in the last 48 hours, since last week’s League LINC Bulletin.

NCGA Overrides Three Vetoes: Republican leaders in the House and Senate found the votes to override the governor’s vetoes of the 2012 budget adjustment bill, legislation to legalize natural gas extraction (fracking), and an overhaul of the Racial Justice Act. The League GA team was successful in getting ‘more’ than was originally proposed for the fracking bill, but much of it is process-oriented in terms of ensuring the municipalities a ‘seat at the table’ for more substantive work to come.


Water Extensions Bill Fails—Twice: Against a series of odd events and a tremendous push by the bill proponent, House Rules Chair Rep. Tim Moore (Kings Mountain), in the wee hours this morning, the Senate failed to concur with the proposed committee substitute for SB 382--Amend Water Supply/Water Quality Laws (Apodaca). This bill was bad for Durham and bad for all cities and towns across the state, setting in place a slippery slope toward mandating water and sewer service to property owners in areas outside a municipality’s city limits. The bill was brought forward and pushed for Southern Durham Development Company.


We appreciate the wonderful support of the entire Durham legislative delegation -- Sen. Floyd McKissick, Sen. Bob Atwater, Rep. Larry Hall, Rep. Paul Luebke, Rep. Mickey Michaux, and Rep. Winkie Wilkins -- as well as the support of former Speaker Joe Hackney, Sen. Pete Brunstetter, Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, and Sen. Josh Stein.

  • Click here to read a Raleigh News and Observer article about the vote.


Composting and Misc. Environmental Amendments Passes: SB 229--Amend Environmental Laws 2012 (East) has passed upon adoption of the conference report. The bill makes a number of changes to North Carolina environmental law, including a change that would narrow permitting of large Type 1 yard waste compost operations to permits required under state stormwater or federal MS4 stormwater programs only.


Contingency Fee Audit Bill Compromise Passes: After a hard push against an attempt by the NC Retail Merchants Association, the North Carolina Chamber, and other groups to wipe out contingency fee auditing for state and local governments, compromise language (SB 847--Sec. 61.5) was negotiated and passed. Under the compromise, cities and counties can continue existing contingent fee-based contracts for tax auditing purposes between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2015, but cannot assign new contracts starting July 1, 2013. Additionally, the issue will be comprehensively studied in the Legislative Research Commission study committee.


Jordan Lake Rules Delayed: HB 953--Amend Environmental Laws 2 (Gillespie) passed, delaying by two years the implementation of the new development ordinance component of the Jordan Lake Rules.

  • Click here for a Greensboro News-Record blog post on that issue.


Study of ETJ, Water/Sewer, Municipal Incorporations Bill Killed: SB 231--Incorporation/ETJ Study (Hartsell) was killed when the Senate failed to concur with the House proposed committee substitute. Word is that Sen. Dan Soucek discouraged the bill's passage because he was unable to successfully pass SB 949--Town of Boone/ETJ (Soucek), which stripped the town of Boone of its one-mile extra-territorial jurisdiction. This was a bad bill and the League GA team worked hard to stop it. We thank the many legislators who recognized its negative impacts.


Billboard Fix Bill Dies: We thank the House for attempting to restore some additional local government authority into the placement and replanting of billboards. Unfortunately, Sen. Harry Brown, the chief proponent for the billboard industry in the Senate, was not supportive.


A Few Round-up Items of Note:

Thanks to all of our great NC cities and towns for your advocacy on behalf of your citizens during this 2012 Short Session!


Quick Note on Federal Action: The U.S. House and Senate agreed on Friday to a federal surface transportation reauthorization bill that will keep highway projects funded through Sept. 30, 2014. The transportation funding bill had expired in 2009 and had been extended on a short-term basis nine times since then. This legislation allows over $980 million in transportation projects to continue.


Gone fishin' for a bit...

Posted on July 03, 2012 by Kelli Kukura