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 In the News, May 25, 2010 

BROADBAND

Editorial: Broadband battle. No law dictates that private telecommunication businesses must provide every North Carolina household and business with high-speed Internet. The companies are free to do business wherever they wish. But, 15 years after Internet use became common, the telecoms still do not provide high-speed service to much of North Carolina. They can't expect people to wait any longer. The telecommunications industry wants the legislature to make it more difficult for local governments to offer high-speed Internet service. The giant companies say they can't compete with local governments in towns of a couple thousand people. Specifically, their bill would prohibit local governments from borrowing to build Internet infrastructure unless the public first voted to sell the bonds

Opinion: Stop the anti-broadband bill. A retiring state senator wants to throw North Carolina consumers under the bus with new legislation that could cost residents millions in savings on their cable, telephone, and broadband bills. Senator David Hoyle (D-Gaston), has introduced S1209 — what Hoyle calls “The Nonvoted Local Debt for Competing System Act.”  We call it “The Anti-Consumer Muni-Killer Act,” representing little more than a lavish parting gift to telecommunications companies that have supported Hoyle for years.

 

ANNEXATION

Opinion: Annexing reform stalled. An annexation reform bill under consideration by the North Carolina Senate may not be going anywhere this legislative session. The House passed the bill last summer, despite complaints from those on both sides of the issue. Involuntary annexation opponents and the North Carolina League of Municipalities — which supports the use of involuntary annexation — criticized the bill. It now sits in front of the Senate, where it doesn’t seem to have much support, either.  

Opinion: A quick and easy fix of annexation law. … [T]here are some simple fixes to the annexation law that would be easy for the legislature to pass quickly. These fixes would represent true compromise. While a majority vote of the property owners would be ideal, the League strongly opposes any type of vote. Therefore, the alternative is to allow county commissions to approve or disapprove annexations.

 

SWEEPSTAKES CAFES

County can’t tax video gaming businesses. As county officials face a tight budget for next fiscal year, they investigated whether sweepstakes and electronic gaming could be a new revenue resource.  They discovered, however, that what many cities and towns across the state are doing isn't possible for them.  The city of Morganton recently imposed a privilege license tax on businesses that offer sweepstakes and electronic gaming. Businesses that offer the gaming will have to pay a tax, which will start in July, of $2,000 per business and $1,500 per machine.

 

TRANSPORTATION

Perdue says new N.C. highway projects fund needed. Mayors joined Gov. Beverly Perdue on Monday to urge the Legislature to create this year a dedicated fund to build urgent road and other transportation projects they say are needed to keep the state's economic engines roaring in the decades ahead. Perdue wants the General Assembly to create the North Carolina Mobility Fund, which the governor said would generate up to nearly $300 million annually by 2013 through higher driver's license fees, the end of a trade-in sales tax break on new car sales and shifting around other pots of money. The governor said the Department of Transportation would use the fund to pay for efforts to ease congestion with projects of statewide significance. The current road-funding formula punishes regions that want to spend money on large projects, making them hard to accomplish.