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LINC'ed IN: January 11, 2013 

Out and About in North Carolina

Legislature Convenes 2013 Session - This Wednesday (January 9), the legislature kicked off the 2013 Session by swearing in officers, conducting elections, and adopting Senate and House rules.  In the Senate, Phil Berger was re-elected as Pres. Pro Tempore, and Sen. Louis Pate was elected Senate Deputy Pres. Pro Tempore.  In the House, Thom Tillis was re-elected as Speaker of the House, and Rep. Skip Stam was elected as House Speaker Pro Tempore. 

At this point, all standing committee assignments have been made:

House Committee Assignments

Senate Committee Assignments

Bill filing deadlines and important legislative dates were established in both chambers.

Senate:
Local bills: March 13, 2013
Public bills: March 28, 2013

House:
Bills from interim committees: February 27, 2013
Bills from state agencies: March 20, 2013
Local bills: April 3, 2013
Public bills without Finance or Appropriations: April 10, 2013
Public bills with Finance or Appropriations: May 8, 2013
Crossover deadline: May 16, 2013

Both chambers are in recess until January 30, when the session will begin in earnest.

Have Your Voice Heard at Advocacy Goals Conference - Join your municipal colleagues January 24 to determine the Top  25 NCLM advocacy goals for the 2013-14 biennium.  The Advocacy Goals Conference gets started with a pre-game social networking reception the evening of January 23. Register today! 
We encourage you to review the goals that we will be considering January 24. If your municipality has a legislative priority that is not covered by these goals, your governing board may approve and submit additional goal proposals no later than January 14, 2013, to LeagueLINC@nclm.org.

Meyer Appointed to Lead League's Governmental Affairs - Paul Meyer, who has served as the League's Chief Legislative Counsel since 2009, was recently appointed as the Director of Governmental Affairs at the League. He replaces Kelli Kukura, who accepted a similar position with Duke Energy in North Carolina. For the full release on Meyer's appointment, see here.

Final Recommendation for Reform of State's Unemployment Insurance (UI) Fund Involves Cities - At its January 8, 2013 meeting, the legislative Revenue Laws Study Committee approved its final recommendation to restore the solvency of the State’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Fund. This legislative proposal would affect how cities and towns pay for unemployment benefits.  The Committee’s final proposal would require local governments that chose to be reimbursing employers to maintain a reserve account in the State UI fund equal to 1 percent of their taxable wage base.  For each employee, the taxable wages base is capped at $20,900, so the initial amount to be maintained in the account for each employee would be a maximum of $209.  Local governments would begin making quarterly payments during FY 13-14 to bring their account balance up to 1 percent of their taxable wage base.  All of a government’s unemployment claims would be deducted from its account and the government would replenish the account to the 1 percent level annually in future years.   We will provide more details about the timing and amount of the quarterly and annual payments as they become available.

The proposal also requires local governments that are reimbursing employers to pay 100% of their claims with no appeal rights, removing the option to pay 120% of claims with the right to appeal.  An earlier version of the UI solvency plan would have required local governments to pay an additional 0.2% of their taxable wage base as a surcharge to improve the solvency of the State’s Unemployment Insurance Fund.  The Committee determined that such a requirement is not allowed under Federal law and the requirement is no longer part of the proposal.   

The text of the proposal and supporting documents can be found on the General Assembly website. The proposal will be introduced as legislation later this month and will be one of the first items taken up by the General Assembly during what is expected to be a busy and fast-moving legislative session. Contact: Karl Knapp

N.C. Supreme Court Decision Leaves Water Rights in Flux - The N.C. Supreme Court reconsidered its earlier decision to review a case involving water rights in the state, allowing an appeals court decision to stand. This new legal precedent upsets over a century of settled state law on water rights, establishing a property interest in water for the first time in North Carolina. In the case, L&S Water Power v. Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority, lower courts conferred an ownership right to the flow of water by hydroelectric power generators downstream of the Randleman dam. The Authority, as owner of the Randleman dam, must pay compensation to the hydroelectric power generators for a taking of the downstream water. The League participated in this action through an amicus brief, arguing against the position ultimately adopted by the lower courts. Contact: Erin Wynia.

League Explains Priorities to Hydraulic Fracturing Group -  At successive meetings of the Local Government Regulation Study Group, an offshoot of the N.C. Mining & Energy Commission (MEC), the League has presented its priorities on the ability of cities and towns to regulate hydraulic fracturing activities in their jurisdiction. Study group members, including several MEC commissioners, heard from the League in December about general land use authorities local governments apply to other heavy industrial activities. The study committee will receive a League presentation on extra-territorial jurisdiction authorities at a meeting in Sanford on Wednesday, January 16. The meeting begins at 9:00 am and is open to the public (details here). Contact: Erin Wynia.

Looking for Issue Talking Points? - As you prepare for the 2013 legislative session, please use the 'Current Issues' section of the NCLM website for talking points / issue briefs on the top legislative issues. For a complete printable package of issue briefs, please use this attachment.

What's Up in DC?

Municipal bond issues could be forced to call as much as a collective $150 billion in debt if a limitation on tax deductions for municipal bond interest is part of a Federal deficit reduction package, according to a report from Bloomberg News. Conduit and private activity securities may be subject to mandatory redemption provisions that could be triggered by a cap on the deduction of bond interest for upper income bondholders. That would mean "substantial" losses for investors, or a "sharp increase in borrowing costs" for localities, according to the report. If any of your outstanding debt is subject to such redemption provisions, contact your members of Congress to let them know how your municipality's finances would be affected.  Contact: Karl Knapp

Coming Soon

NCLM Advocacy Goals Conference
January 24, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh   
Pre-Game Networking Social January 23, DoubleTree by Hilton 

General Assembly - Full Legislative Calendar

House Session Convenes, Wednesday, January 30 - Noon

Senate Session Convenes, Wednesday, January 30 - Noon