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Legislators Question Successes, Shortcomings of Jordan Lake Rules

The legislature’s Jordan Lake Rules study committee began its interim study of the Rules Wednesday, questioning the state's chief water quality regulator about perceived successes and shortcomings with implementation of the Rules. The study, authorized in the omnibus "Legislative Research Commission" group of interim studies, comes as a response to legislation last session that delayed portions of the Rules. Several committee members, including former Greensboro council member Sen. Trudy Wade, expressed frustration that the state did not know exactly which entities were implementing various parts of the Rules, and further, that the state had no evidence yet of water quality improvement in the lake. Based on this questioning, the committee will likely receive more detailed information at a future meeting about which local governments have taken steps toward implementing the Rules. The study committee, which intends to meet three more times before the legislature reconvenes in May, will likely recommend changes to the Rules that could set a precedent for future water quality regulation across the state. For more on this initial committee meeting, including an interview with former Burlington mayor and city council member Rep. Steve Ross, read this WUNC report.


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Congratulations to Keith Weatherly on His New Position at NCDOT

Town of Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly announced his resignation from the town Tuesday evening in order to accept the position of Deputy Secretary for Legislative Affairs and Policy at the N.C. Department of Transportation. In that role, Weatherly will report to another former mayor, Nick Tennyson, who was recently named the department's Chief Deputy Secretary. Weatherly was the mayor of Apex for 18 years and also recently has served as the Chief of Staff to House Speaker Pro Tem Paul Stam. "We are proud to have Keith join our team," NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata said in a release. "His extensive experience working with the General Assembly, local governments, and transportation planning organizations will help NCDOT continue to find better solutions that improve the lives of all North Carolinians and visitors to our state." The League has enjoyed working with Mayor Weatherly both in his role as mayor and through his work in the General Assembly, and we congratulate him on his new position and look forward to continuing to work with him in the future.


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Public Meeting on Homeowners Insurance Rate Hike Today

The N.C. Department of Insurance is holding a public comment session in Raleigh today regarding homeowners insurance rate increases recently requested by insurance companies. That rate increase will average approximately 25 percent statewide but could be as much as 35 percent in some coastal communities. In response, local governments along the coast -- who are already dealing with proposed increases in flood insurance rates -- are approving resolutions opposing the increase, and representatives of some of those governments may speak at the public meeting today. Those not attending the meeting today but wishing to submit written comments may do so until Jan. 31. Comments can be emailed to 2014homeowners@ncdoi.gov or mailed to NCDOI, Attn: Bob Mack, Property & Casualty Division, 1201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1201.


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Legislative Study Committees Appointed

Several of the Study Committees authorized by the Legislative Research Commission that are pertinent to local governments have recently been appointed. They include the following:

Dates for any meetings of these committees have not yet been set.


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NC 911 Board to Meet Today Regarding Secondary PSAP Funding

The North Carolina 911 Board will consider a secondary Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) funding proposal from its Secondary PSAP Funding Committee at a meeting scheduled today in Raleigh. The League and representatives from several North Carolina municipalities plan to speak in support of the Committee's recommendation as a first incremental step toward an equitable funding formula for all PSAPs. "This issue is probably the most important that the Board has taken up in its history," the North Carolina 911 Board's Executive Director Richard Taylor wrote in an email on Tuesday. Taylor also noted that a large number of interested parties had already registered to make public comment on the topic at Friday's meeting.

The Committee’s recommendation outlines conditions under which 911 Fund disbursements to secondary PSAPs may be permitted through primary PSAPs going forward. In addition to meeting the 8 conditions prescribed by the Committee, the funding allocations would also need to be approved by the 911 Board under the new policy. If the Committee’s recommendations are adopted, the new recommendation will go into effect on July 1, 2014. The full funding recommendation can be viewed here. The League will provide an update on the 911 Board's actions regarding the Secondary PSAP funding recommendation in next week's edition of LINC'ed IN.


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Cary's Bailey Appointed to Legislative Committee at League's Request

Members of the General Assembly's Purchase and Contract Study Committee were recently appointed, and among them is Tim Bailey, Assistant Town Manager for the Town of Cary. Bailey fills the slot on the committee designated to be recommended by the League. The Purchase and Contract Study Committee arose out of HB 857 Public Contracts/Construction Methods/DP/P3, which dealt with the terms under which the design-build method of construction for public buildings could be used by local governments. The Committee is tasked with studying "the issue of prequalification on public nontransportation construction work for both local and State government projects," including "whether or not current State construction voluntary standards should be required for all public projects." The committee met on Jan. 15 to hear presentations regarding the current law and process for prequalification and will meet next on Wed., Feb. 12. The League thanks Speaker of the House Thom Tillis for accepting our recommendation of Bailey, and we thank Tim for being willing to serve.
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Amazon to Begin Collecting Sales Tax in NC

Amazon.com recently announced that it would begin collecting sales tax in N.C. beginning on Feb. 1, according to the Triangle Business Journal. The News & Observer reported Thursday that Amazon plans to make a future "investment" in North Carolina, which may explain the company's decision. Currently Amazon collects sales tax in 19 states. Amazon has been a supporter of the Marketplace Fairness Act, federal legislation which would give state and local governments across the country that meet certain parameters the authority to collect the sales taxes on Internet purchases that they are currently owed. The League and the National League of Cities have also been supporters of the legislation, which passed the U.S. Senate last year but thus far has not been heard in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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League Presses for Revisions to Duke LED Streetlight Rate Proposal

In comments submitted to the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) Wednesday, the League pressed the Commission to require further revisions to Duke Energy Carolinas' LED streetlight rate proposal. The company filed the proposal December 31 in response to the League's request for a favorable LED streetlight rate in last fall's rate case (background on the League's intervention). In advance of the Commission's vote on this proposal Monday, the League offered conditional support for the rate structure. The proposal did not offer meaningful incentives for municipalities in the Duke service area to transition their streetlights to LED technologies, the League argued. In exchange for its conditional support, the League requested that the Commission order Duke to work with municipalities for the next six months to design a rate structure that would make a switch to LED financially feasible for cities. The League's continued involvement in this rate case is supported by the over 100 League members who belong to the NC Municipal Energy Group.
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House Committee on Mechanics Liens Receives Stakeholder Input

The House Committee on Mechanics Liens and Leasehold Improvements convened Tuesday to receive comments from interested stakeholders on the need for legislation to provide additional lien protection for contractors who work on leased premises under a contract with the tenant. Committee members heard presentations from the General Assembly's Research Division, the North Carolina Land Title Association and plumbing and heating contractors from around the state. No official committee action was taken, but the Committee Co-Chair, Rep. Sarah Stevens, announced that the Committee would continue to hear public comment and discuss the issues surrounding mechanics liens in North Carolina at its next meeting on Feb. 3. The League will continue to monitor this issue and will update you on any pertinent Committee action that might affect municipal mechanics liens notification processes.
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Local Government Breakfast for Emerging Issues Forum Attendees

Those of you attending the upcoming Emerging Issues Forum, Teachers and the Great Economic Debate, may wish to attend the Annual Local Government Breakfast. The breakfast is open to Municipal Officials, School Superintendents, County Commissioners, and School Board Members, and it will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 7 a.m. at the Raleigh Marriott City Center, immediately preceding the Forum. This year's Local Government Breakfast speaker is Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, Director General of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation (CIMO) in Helsinki, Finland. The breakfast is free to Forum registrants, but registration is capped at 60 participants, and seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis and going fast. If you would like to register, please do so by Tuesday, Jan. 29. Click here to register, or email Diane Cherry at the Institute for Emerging Issues for more information.