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Transportation Oversight Committee Considers Recommendations

The Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee met on Tuesday to review the recommendations made by the N.C. Department of Transportation work group and the N.C. Board of Transportation regarding the implementation of this session's transportation reform legislation. The League has been participating in that work group process that developed the recommendations considered by the committee on Tuesday. All of the presentations from Tuesday's meeting can be viewed here.

Legislators expressed some concerns about the recommendations presented Tuesday. Among them was the fact that half of the "local input" portion of the project rankings would be delegated to division engineers. Lawmakers questioned whether that was true "local input," given the division engineers' status as NCDOT employees. Questions were also raised about whether the quantitative formulas that play a role in project selection gave enough weight to projects connecting rural and urban areas. For coverage of Tuesday's meeting, see here from the News & Observer and here from the Durham Herald-Sun.

The NCDOT workgroup is scheduled to meet on Sept. 23 to discuss legislators' concerns, and the Transportation Oversight Committee scheduled another meeting for the following day to hear the results of those discussions. The League will be participating in that workgroup meeting. Those with feedback on any of the issues raised should contact League Policy & Communication Specialist Chris Nida.


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EMC Commissioners Take Seats; ERC Appointments Announced

Thirteen members -- eight of them new -- of the N.C. Environmental Management Commission (EMC) were sworn in yesterday, marking the most significant turnover in board members since the creation of the Commission. The EMC makes the state's largest environmental regulatory decisions, including water quality decisions that most often affect cities and towns. The 2013 budget bill directed the overhaul of the board by eliminating the terms of all existing members of the EMC and shrinking the size of the board at the same time. Importantly, the rewrite also eliminated a seat previously designated for local government representation. However, several members of the new Commission have local government experience that will provide a valuable perspective to the board's deliberations.

While yesterday's meeting mostly contained orientation items, the Commission voted to allow a public hearing on revisions to the state's surface water quality standards. This issue, one of the League's top regulatory priorities, impacts wastewater treatment costs and could potentially prompt plant upgrades. The public hearing will satisfy an EPA requirement, though the formal rule package is still under development and will not move forward until next year.

This week appointments were also announced for the legislative Environmental Review Commission. The full Commission membership can be found here. Representatives Mike Hager and Ruth Samuelson and Senator Brent Jackson will serve as co-chairs. In a release, Rep. Hager said, "I thank Speaker (Thom) Tillis for his confidence in appointing me as co-chair of the Environmental Review Commission." Sen. Jackson said, "I am excited about the balance the General Assembly struck between responsible environmental regulations and protecting North Carolina small businesses. The ERC will allow us to continue that good work."


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Rep. Foushee Selected to Replace Sen. Kinnaird

On Sunday the N.C. Senatorial District 23 Democratic Party Executive Committee selected current Rep. Valerie Foushee to replace former Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, who resigned her seat last month. The League congratulates Rep. Foushee on her new position and looks forward to continuing to work with her in her new role as a Senator. Other candidates for Sen. Kinnaird's seat included former Rep. Alice Bordsen and current Town of Carrboro mayor Mark Chilton. An individual will now be selected to complete the remainder of Rep. Foushee's term.
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Primaries Held in Municipalities Across the State

The cities of Albemarle, Charlotte, Sanford and Winston-Salem held primaries for mayor and city council seats on Tuesday. A full recap of the results of all of those primaries is available here. Candidates for mayor in Albemarle will be Chris Bramlett and Ronnie Michael. In Charlotte, voters will decide between mayoral candidates Patrick Cannon and Edwin Peacock. Chet Mann will be the next mayor of Sanford after winning Tuesday's primary and not having a challenger on the other side of the ballot. And current Winston-Salem mayor Allen Joines won his primary Tuesday and will be on the ballot in November, facing a challenger who may not conduct an active campaign. The League congratulates all of the winners of Tuesday's primary elections and thanks all of the candidates for their interest in serving their local communities. Further coverage of Tuesday's primaries is below.

Charlotte Observer: What we learned from Charlotte's primary

Sanford Herald: Election outcome won't change

Winston-Salem Journal: Taylor, Leight defeat Democratic challengers; Republican Shaw will face Besse in November

Winston-Salem Journal: MacIntosh wins Democratic primary in Northwest with 65 percent of the vote 


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Commerce Officials Embark on Listening Tour

From September through November, N.C. Department of Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker and Tony Almeida, Governor Pat McCrory's Senior Advisor on Jobs and the Economy, will be traveling across North Carolina on a Listening Tour to gather feedback on North Carolina's 10-year Economic Development Plan. Some of you may have received an invitation to join Secretary Decker and Mr. Almeida on one of these tour stops. However, even if you did not receive an invitation, you can still provide input on the 10-year Economic Development Plan. Visit this website for more information and a form with which to submit feedback.
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League Seeks Nominations for Officer, Board Positions

Interested municipal officials have until Sept. 27 to submit their names for vacancies on the League's Board of Directors. Open seats include the League's 2nd vice president position and several positions on the Board of Directors. Full details are available here in the League's Annual Business Meeting packet. Nominations can be submitted to the Nominating Committee Chair, Mayor Derryl Garner, at 215 North Dawson Street, Raleigh, NC 27603 or via email. Those interested in serving on a League Legislative or Regulatory Action Committee can also indicate that via a form included in the Annual Business Meeting packet.