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Brunstetter to Retire from N.C. Senate

N.C. Senator Pete Brunstetter announced yesterday that he would retire from the Senate next month, with reports indicating that he would accept a position as executive vice president and chief legal counsel for Novant Health. Brunstetter is a former member of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners and has served in the Senate since 2006. In a statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger said, "Pete Brunstetter is an outstanding public servant whose leadership and budgetary expertise were instrumental to closing the $2.5 billion deficit Republicans inherited and ensuring North Carolina's long-term fiscal health. As a champion of small business, Pete had a tremendous impact on reforming our state's onerous regulatory environment and medical malpractice laws. He is a close friend and trusted adviser, and I know I speak for my colleagues -- and his constituents -- in thanking him for many years of service." The League has enjoyed working with Sen. Brunstetter on many critical issues for local governments over the years, and we wish him all the best in the future.
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Berger Jr. Announces Run for U.S. House; General Assembly Candidates Also Declare

Phil Berger Jr., District Attorney for Rockingham County and son of Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, announced his intention to run for the U.S. House this week. He will be attempting to win the seat in N.C.'s 6th District that is currently held by Rep. Howard Coble, who previously announced that he would not run again. In a release announcing his campaign, Berger Jr. said, "For seven years, I've fought crime for Rockingham County. Now, I want to fight for our conservative values and represent our North Carolina values." According to the Greensboro News & Record, other Republican candidates for the seat include Rev. Mark Walker and Piedmont Triad International Airport Authority member Don Webb. The News & Record also reported that City of Greensboro Councilman Zack Matheny is considering running. Laura Fjeld, who previously served asĀ general counsel for the state university system, is the sole Democrat who has thus far announced plans to run for the seat.

On the state level, Democrat Natasha Marcus announced that she would run for the N.C. House seat currently held by Speaker of the House Thom Tillis. According to CorneliusNews.net, Marcus told a crowd of onlookers at her announcement, "Republicans have held this seat since the district was created in 2000. Voters have not had a real choice in over a decade. I think it's time we did." Outgoing Town of Cornelius Mayor Lynette Rinker previously also announced her intention to run for the seat.

Also announcing candidacy for the General Assembly this week was Howard Hunter III, a member of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners who intends to run for the seat currently held by Rep. Annie Mobley. Hunter is a past president of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

You can keep up with all the declared candidates for office at the Federal and State level through the Candidate Tracker put together by the N.C. Free Enterprise Foundation.


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Rep. McIntyre Talks Flood Insurance, Federal Beach Funding

U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre spoke this week at the annual conference of the N.C. Beach Inlet & Waterway Association, and he touched on at least two topics of significance for North Carolina's cities and towns. One of them was rising flood insurance rates as a result of the federal Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The implementation of Biggert-Waters has led to a sharp rise in flood insurance rates for homeowners in N.C. and across the country, leading McIntyre to sign on as one of the sponsors of a bill that would delay the act's further implementation until an affordability study is conducted and other conditions are met. He also touched on federal funding for beach renourishment, telling the crowd in attendance that he was "optimistic" that federal legislation would continue funding agreements between the federal and local governments, according to the Port City Daily.
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Water Quality Standards Headline Public Hearing

State regulators received over two and a half hours of public comment on the state's water quality standards at a hearing Tuesday. Speakers at the hearing, held to comply with a federal Clean Water Act requirement that directs states to review their surface water quality standards every three years, largely represented non-profit environmental groups. The League and its industry partners attended the hearing as well and will submit lengthy written comments. The state's review of these standards, known as the "triennial review," is one of the League membership's top regulatory priorities due to the potential for extraordinary compliance costs on wastewater treatment plants. The League has been involved in this review for many years. Read more detail in this article published Tuesday for the League's EcoLINC publication.
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Mining & Energy Commission Committee Approves Setback Rule

The Environmental Standards Committee of the Mining and Energy Commission met yesterday, giving its approval to a draft rule regarding setbacks for drilling operations. The committee did make several changes to the draft rule before approving it, the most substantive of which will require certain mitigation activities when variances from the required setbacks are granted. The draft rule must still be approved by the full Commission before it becomes effective. Also this week, the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy traveled to Arkansas to make site visits to drilling operations in that state.
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Former Councilman to Head Clean Water Management Trust Fund

It was reported this week that Bryan Gossage, former councilman in the Town of Apex, was named by Gov. Pat McCrory to head the Office of Land and Water Stewardship in the state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources. One of the duties of that office is to oversee the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, which has distributed grants to numerous municipalities over the years. Gossage's appointment has raised some controversy, as people have questioned whether he has the "training and experience in conservation, protection and management of surface water resources" required by law of the Trust Fund director. His wife also serves as policy director for Gov. McCrory. According to the News & Observer, a DENR spokesman cited Gossage's experience as a councilman overseeing the Town of Apex's utilities and water conservation efforts as part of his qualifications for his new position.
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Cameron Named to NLC Board of Directors

At last week's Council of Cities, the National League of Cities elected its new leadership and Board of Directors. Among the new Board members is Mary Cameron, a council member in the Village of Clemmons. Council Member Cameron has previously served on steering committees for NLC and is a past chair of a League Legislative Action Committee. "I'm honored to represent North Carolina," Cameron said. "It's important to have a voice at the national level that will speak for our best interests." Also honored at the Congress of Cities was City of Charlotte Council Member James Mitchell, the former president of NLC who did not run for re-election to the City Council this year. Our congratulations go out to Council Member Cameron, and we send our thanks to Council Member Mitchell for his years of service to the City of Charlotte and NLC. The League also wishes to thank all of the many League members who traveled to Seattle for the Council of Cities and were able to attend the reception and legislative briefing held by the League while there.
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Essentials of Municipal Government Registration Open

It was great to see so many newly elected mayors in Raleigh this week for the New Mayors Orientation program jointly sponsored by the League and the UNC School of Government. We enjoyed meeting so many of you and look forward to working with you in the future. We hope to see many more municipal officials in January and February of next year, when the League again partners with the School of Government to offer the Essentials of Municipal Government. This course is designed for both new and veteran elected officials and managers, and registration is open now. Visit this page to learn more about the Essentials of Municipal Government and register for your preferred session.