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League Urges Governor to Call Special Legislative Session

Responding to concerns from cities and towns across the state, the League on Thursday delivered a letter to Governor Pat McCrory calling for a special legislative session to consider crucial funding for economic development programs and the extension of film and historic preservation tax credits. In the letter, League Executive Director Paul Meyer said North Carolina cannot afford to sit on the economic development sidelines while businesses decide where to build and hire. "Cities and towns across the state, and their residents, expect their elected officials to take bold actions when it comes to the most important matter before them -- the creation of jobs," Meyer wrote.

The full letter can be read here. It urges the Governor to call a special legislative session specifically to address Commerce Department-related jobs recruiting programs and the extension of historic preservation and film tax credits. The League's action came on the same day that Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter joined with Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller and Charlotte Chamber President Bob Morgan to ask that the Governor call a special session to address a specific list of jobs recruiting programs, and film and historic preservation tax credits.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo had previously asked the Governor to call a special session to address these issues, and issued a letter urging other North Carolinians to join in the effort. The League thanks Mayor Clodfelter and Mayor Saffo for their efforts. The need for legislative action is real. Legislators had the opportunity to approve stand-alone jobs recruiting legislation, as well as a stand-alone film and historic preservation tax credit bill. Instead, these proposals became entangled in other legislation, and legislators left Raleigh without approving programs critical to bringing in new jobs and maintaining existing jobs.

The state now faces the possibility that Commerce Department programs critical to inducing new businesses to come here will run out of money, even as large employers weigh North Carolina communities as potential business sites against communities in other states. Many cities and towns also face the possibility of seeing historic rehabilitation projects, with the potential to create hundreds or even thousands of jobs in total, falling apart without historic preservation tax credits. And the loss of film tax credits will mean the loss of film and TV production jobs.
 
Please contact Governor McCrory's office and your Legislators to ask them to support a special legislative session to take up these measures so essential to economic development and job creation. Your efforts in this regard are vital. Thank you! See media coverage regarding the request for a special session here.  Contact: Paul Meyer

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Wilson FCC Petition Draws Lots of Comment

Seventy-one individuals and organizations -- including top legislators and municipal governments from around the state -- filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission regarding the City of Wilson's petition to the FCC seeking to overturn a 2011 state law that restricts expansion of the City's broadband system. Municipal governments in Fayetteville, Mooresville, Highlands and Holly Springs all filed comments urging the FCC to preempt the state law. House Speaker Thom Tillis and State Attorney Roy Cooper filed comments against preemption.

The League, which opposed the 2011 law, submitted comments  urging the Commission to preempt state laws that act to prohibit or restrict public broadband projects or public/private broadband partnerships. The comments can be found here. Wilson and Chattanooga, Tenn., each submitted petitions in response to comments by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler indicating that he believed preempting state laws like North Carolina's would  promote competition. Previous League coverage can be read here. Read media coverage about those commenting on the petition here. Contact: Kim Hibbard


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911 Board Seeks Municipal Input

The NC 911 Board will hold a final meeting next week primarily dedicated to considering local government feedback regarding Board operations and how they relate to the delivery of 911 services. The Board has been hosting meetings around the state to hear the views of municipalities and counties on a wide range of its policies. The policies being considered affect funding methodology, expense approval mechanisms, and allocation of 911 fees. 

The League encourages members to attend and let the Board know your views on these subjects. Having already received public comments in meetings in the western part of the state and the Piedmont, the final meeting will take place Wednesday in Sunset Beach in conjunction with the NC NENA/APCO Conference. The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Sea Trails Resort, 75A Clubhouse Rd., Sunset Beach. Feel free to contact League staff if you have any questions. Contact: Whitney Christensen


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Greensboro Ponders Camera Footage Release

Officials in the City of Greensboro announced plans to begin  formal discussions of whether police body-worn camera footage should ever be released as a public record. City officials plan to convene an expert panel later this month to discuss the issue. Greensboro police began using the cameras last year. Read media coverage here.
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Durham Officials Discuss Written Consent for Vehicle Searches

Officials in the City of Durham are discussing making that City's police officers become the second in the state to require written permission before searching vehicles during traffic stops. Fayetteville adopted a written-consent search policy in 2012.  Police in Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, Wilmington and Winston-Salem can use written consent forms, but are not required to do so. Read more about Durham's consideration of their use here.
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New Lawsuits Filed Over Coal Ash

A coalition of environmental groups has filed a new round of federal lawsuits against Duke Energy regarding coal ash ponds. Three lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court cite issues related to coal ash ponds at the Buck Steam Station near Salisbury, and now-shuttered coal-fired plants on the Cape Fear River near Moncure and on the Neuse River near Goldsboro.

The Legislature approved a coal ash clean-up plan as one of its last actions during the 2014 legislative session. Critics contend the plan did not go far enough to ensure that state waters and water supplies are protected; company officials say they are committed to an environmentally sound approach to closing the ash basins. Read media coverage about the lawsuits here.


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Serve On A League Policy Committee!

If you are interested in serving on one of the League's policy committees, now is the time to let us know. Just fill out this form and either bring it to the League's Annual Conference (Oct. 12-14 in Greensboro) or return it to League Government Affairs Assistant Cara Bridges. Policy committees -- the General Government, Planning & Environment, or Tax & Finance Legislative Action Committee, and the Regulatory Action Committee -- are a great way to get involved with the League and help the membership set the organization's legislative and regulatory policy positions. If you are interested in serving on any of the committees, please let us know, and contact us with any questions as well. Contact: Cara Bridges