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 March 13 

This week's developments

  • Jordan Lake Update.  Several bills have been introduced to disapprove the nutrient management rules adopted by the Environmental Management Commission for Jordan Lake. The League supports working toward a reasonable compromise that would retain many of the rules but remove or modify certain overly burdensome and costly provisions. Of particular concern are unprecedented requirements for the stormwater retrofit of existing development, the timeline for wastewater treatment upgrades, and requirements for local governments to implement the state's buffer program. Because rules for this water supply are likely to become templates for rules in other areas, the issue is of statewide concern. We will continue to work with legislators and stakeholders on crafting a compromise bill.
  • Intermodal bill clears committee.  HB 148 – Congestion Relief/Intermodal Transport Fund was approved by House Transportation Committee this week. Ellis Hankins, speaking on behalf of the League and the Metro Mayors Coalition, joined several other organizations Wednesday to speak in support of the bill. The favorable vote by the committee was an important step toward improving mobility around the state. The League, along with 40 other organizations, supports the bill to allow more local option revenue sources to fund public transportation. The bill now goes to House Finance. The Metro Mayors Coalition and the League continue to work closely with the bill sponsors to ensure municipal interests are addressed.
  • Rainy day fund and state budget problems.  Gov. Beverly Perdue announced that she is taking the state's rainy day fund, nearly $800 million, to help balance the state's budget. She expects to use some of the money to shore up the state employees' health plan. The governor's director, Charlie Perusse, said this week the shortfall in the current year's budget is $1.2 billion and this could go as high as $2.1. billion by the end of June. He estimated that a gap between projected revenues and estimated spending as high as $3 billion for each of the next two years, without spending cuts or any revenue increases. Federal stimulus money would lower those gaps some.
  • Gov. Perdue's 2009-2011 budget preview.  The governor has announced some economic development proposals that will be included in her 2009-2011 budget. Included is a Main Street Solutions Program -- a $7 million investment to expand the Main Street program into a more comprehensive tool for small and medium-sized cities and towns.

Federal Stimulus Spotlight

Wastewater public hearing

The Construction Grants & Loans section of N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will hold a public hearing Tuesday, March 17 at 2:00 p.m. at the State Public Library, 109 Jones St., Raleigh, to hear public comments on criteria for selection of stimulus projects and on projects on its stimulus funding list. . .

Statewide stimulus public meetings

Gov. Beverly Perdue's Office of Economic Recovery & Investment plans to hold public meetings regarding implementation of the federal stimulus package in North Carolina. Dates and locations will be announced soon, but will be spread across the state.

Additional stimulus information

UNC-CH School of Government has established a listserv for elected and appointed officials to share information. To register for the listserv, please visit http://www.sog.unc.edu/listservs.html

 

Regulatory Update

In-ground irrigation system meters

All new in-ground irrigation systems that are connected to a local government water system will have to have a separate meter, effective July 1, 2009, as the result of the 2008 drought legislation passed by the N.C. General Assembly. . . Read More

Wind energy legislation

The Environmental Management Commission voted on Thursday to recommend legislation regulating wind energy in North Carolina. Expect a bill in the next few weeks. The League will closely monitor how the bill affects local government land use authority as to the siting of wind energy facilities. . .

Ozone non-attainment boundaries

N.C. DENR submitted its recommendations for new air quality boundaries to U.S. EPA on Thursday of this week. The state's proposed boundaries, if accepted by EPA, would designate 24 whole counties and parts of 17 others in non-attainment for ozone, meaning those areas do not meet federal air quality standards for ozone pollutant. EPA must approve or disapprove these boundaries by March 12, 2010. . . Read More

 

Action Items

Contact your legislators about these issuesSupport SB 472 – Annexation Changes

What bill would do: Enacts 20 changes to address the legitimate concerns of citizens. Retains fairness of annexation for in-town residents and annexation as a tool for managing growth. The bill makes substantial changes in the areas of annexation process and communication with citizens; water and sewer service extension; and annexation standards and requirements. For example, bill provides for towns to annex low-wealth areas that desperately need municipal services but currently do not qualify for annexation. Companion House bill is expected very soon. For more information on the 20 changes and the bill, go to the Legislative Action Center, then What SB 472 – Annexation Changes would do.
Sponsors: Sens. Tony Rand and Vernon Malone
Actions Needed : Ask your senators to support SB 472 as the bill to revise the state's annexation statutes. Ask your representatives to support its companion bill upon introduction.

 

Oppose SB 494 – Annexation/Meaningful Services and Oversight
What the bill would do: Requires approval from county board of commissioners for city-initiated annexations and approval by referendum if objections to annexation are raised at public hearing; imposes a number of additional service requirements related to annexation; increases the density and development standards for annexation.
Sponsor: Sen. Larry Shaw
Actions Needed: Ask your senators to oppose this bill.

 

Oppose HB 524 – Annexation – Omnibus Changes
What bill would do: Requires at least 50 percent of property owners to approve annexation if area is served by central water and sewer system operated by entity other than annexing city; increases the density and development standards for annexation; prohibits splitting of subdivisions; requires annexation of certain contiguous and satellite low-wealth areas in need of services upon petition of 75% of property owners.
Sponsors: Reps. Bruce Goforth, Paul Luebke, Earl Jones, Edgar Starnes
Actions Needed : Ask your representatives to oppose this bill.

 

Oppose HB 525 - Annexation – LGC and Already Served Areas
What bill would do: Requires the Local Government Commission to oversee all municipal annexations, including voluntary; prohibits city-initiated annexations in areas currently served by a central water and sewer system operated by entity other than annexing city unless at least 50 percent of property owners consent.
Sponsors: Reps. Paul Luebke and Bruce Goforth
Actions Needed: Ask your representatives to oppose this legislation.

 

Oppose HB 571 – Annexation – Moratorium
What bill would do: Impose a moratorium on city-initiated annexations until from August 31, 2009 until May 31, 2010.
Sponsors: Reps. Bruce Goforth, Larry Brown, Nelson Dollar, Fred Steen
Actions Needed: Ask your representatives to oppose this bill.

 

Bill Summaries

ENVIRONMENT

HB 512 – Incentives for Energy Conservation
Sponsor: Holliman, Harrison, Luebke
Status: House Energy
Creates incentives for high-performance homes and renewable energy. Adds the design principles of the NC Healthybuilt Homes Program to the certification or ratings systems that may qualify for building permit fee reductions or partial rebates allowed by cities and counties to encourage green building.

SB 524 – Disapprove Coastal Setback Rule
Sponsor: Boseman
Status: Senate Ag & Environment
Disapproves general use standards for ocean hazards areas rule.

SB 586 – File Lis Pendens for Certain Erosion Actions
Sponsor: McKissick
Status: Senate Judiciary I
Requires filing of notice of pending litigation for actions seeking injunctive relief regarding sedimentation and erosion control for land-disturbing activities.

FINANCE AND TAXATION

HB 594 – Increase Disabled Vet Property Tax Exclusion
Sponsor: Coates, Steen, Williams, Lucas
Status: Filed in House
Increases the disabled veteran's homestead property tax exclusion to the first $65,000 of appraised value of the residence.

SB 500 – Raise Homestead Exclusion Income Limit
Sponsor: Allran
Status: Senate Finance
Increase the income eligibility limit for the homestead property tax exclusion to $35,000.

SB 501 – IDF Eligibility Modifications
Sponsor: Allran
Status: Senate Finance
Modifies eligibility requirements for the Industrial Development Fund. Allows cities and counties to use the funds for projects that will directly result in the creation of new jobs. Increases maximums to $15,000 per new job created in a tier one county and $10,000 per job in a tier two county, and $750,000 per project.

GENERAL GOVERNMENT

SB 563 – Regulation of Golf Carts by Local Governments
Sponsor: Davis
Status: Senate State and Local Government
Provides statewide authority for local governments to regulate golf carts on public streets.

SB 564 – Statewide Nuisance Notice Authority
Sponsor: Davis
Status: Senate State and Local Government
Allows local governments to give annual notice to chronic violators of their public nuisance ordinances.

SB 600 – Condemnation of Conservation Easements
Sponsor: Clodfelter
Status: Filed in Senate
Prohibits exercise the power of eminent domain on property encumbered by a conservation easement unless the entity first demonstrates that there is no prudent and feasible alternative to the action. In addition to the compensation due to the holder of the conservation easement, the condemnor shall be required to pay the holder of the easement an additional amount equal to 25% of the value of the easement in order to reimburse costs incurred in locating and acquiring a substantially similar conservation easement or otherwise using the proceeds in a manner consistent with the purposes of the easement.

INCORPORATIONS

SB 535 – Archer Lodge Incorporated
Sponsor: Rouzer
Status: Senate Finance
Incorporates the Town of Archer Lodge in Johnston County, subject to a referendum. 

SB 538 – Incorporate Lake James
Sponsor: Jacumin
Status: Senate Finance
Incorporates the Village of Lake James in Burke County.

SB 549 – Incorporate Enochville
Sponsor: Brock
Status: Senate Finance
Incorporates the Town of Enochville in Rowan County, subject to a referendum. 

SB 553 – Incorporate Swannanoa
Sponsor: Nesbitt
Status: Senate Finance
Incorporates the Town of Swannanoa in Buncombe County, subject to a referendum.

PERSONNEL

HB 557 – Future Volunteer Firefighters Act
Sponsor: Folwell, Pierce, Guice, Stevens
Status: House Ways & Means
Provides that limitations on employment of youth under 18 do not prohibit youth between 15 and 18 from participating in training through a fire department, office of the state fire marshal, or community college.

PUBLIC SAFETY

SB 598 - Local Supplementation of Judicial Employees
Sponsor: Clodfelter
Status: Filed in Senate
Provides that the Administrative Office of the Courts may contract with the governing body of a unit of local government for the provision of local funds to supplement the salaries of Judicial Department employees, other than elected officials and magistrates, who serve the superior court district, district court district, or prosecutorial district containing that unit of local government.

RETIREMENT

SB 557 – Remove Restriction/LEO Disability Benefits
Sponsor: Foriest
Status: Senate Pensions & Retirement
Removes the requirement that law enforcement officers have one year of creditable service in order to qualify for disability retirement benefits under the Local Governmental Employees' Retirement System for injuries incurred in the line of duty.

TECHNOLOGY

HB 595 – Study High Speed Internet/Underserved Cities
Sponsor: K. Alexander, Faison, Jones
Status: Filed in House
Creates Joint Legislative Study Committee on High-Speed Internet in Underserved Urban Areas, to examine the availability of high-speed Internet access in low-wealth areas of the state having a population of 100,000 or more.

TRANSPORTATION

HB 569 – DWQ/Bridge Culvert Standards
Sponsor: Gibson
Status: Filed in House
Requires the Division of Water Quality in DENR to allow the use of structures known as three-sided, open-bottom, or bottomless culverts throughout the state, based on sound engineering practice, when the structures will be located on private property. The Division may not limit use of these structures to locations where they must be tied into bedrock.

UTILITIES

HB 530 – Utilities/Carrier of Last Resort
Sponsor: Blue, Carney, Brubaker
Status: House Public Utilities
Clarifies that each local exchange company is the universal service provider (carrier of last resort) in the area in which it is certified to operate on July 1, 1995, but each company can satisfy it carrier of last resort obligation by using any available technology. Allows local exchange company to be granted waiver of carrier of last resort obligation by the state upon a showing that it would be inequitable or unduly burdensome. 

SB 567 – Promote Electricity Demand Reduction
Sponsor: Hartsell
Status: Senate Commerce
Allows municipality, electric membership corporation, or electric public utility to use electricity demand reduction as an option to satisfy the renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standard.