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 March 27 

This week's developments

  • Major changes proposed for ABC system. HB 768 – Modernization of the ABC System (SB 831 ) would make significant changes to the state's ABC system, as recommended by the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee, including allowing only one local ABC board in each county, requiring consolidation of certain assets and operations; allowing the ABC Commission to merge local boards into one county board if consolidation has not taken place by July 1, 2011; and allowing ABC Commission to merge local ABC boards into regional ABC boards if the change would "best serve the needs of citizens, increase profitability and enhance revenues to affected local government."
  • Creation of Local Government Tort Claims Act proposed. SB 1026 – Local Government Tort Claims Act would significantly alter how liability claims filed against local governments are handled.  Under the proposed system, local governments would waive sovereign immunity defenses for negligence claims, and damages would be capped at $1 million per occurrence, cumulative to all claimants, for liability related to governmental functions.  There would be no cap on damages for negligence claims arising from the exercise of proprietary functions (public enterprise, streets, civic centers, etc).  The League has significant concerns over the fiscal impact of this proposal.
  • N.C. DOT responsibility for roads redefined.  SB 758 – Transfer Secondary Roads to Counties would remove secondary roads from state highway system and transfer responsibility for constructing and maintaining those secondary roads to counties. However, bill also appears to shift to cities the responsibility for certain roads within city boundaries that are currently a part of the state-maintained system. Bill does this by specifying that DOT's role is to construct and maintain a system of primary roads and highways. The League has concerns about the impact of this legislation.
  • Water allocation bill introduced. SB 907 – Water Resource Policy Act of 2009 has been introduced to establish administrative and judicial policies on water allocation. Included is permit program for withdrawals of more than 100,000 gallons per-day from surface or groundwater sources. Requires hydrologic modeling throughout state and provides for adjustment of withdrawal amounts in river basins where existing or future withdrawals are projected by models to exceed available supply. Authorizes creation of river basin planning organizations to manage water resource supply and demand. Provides for DENR to issue interim allocations for water withdrawals in basins where hydrologic model has not been adopted. Legislation sets significant long-term policies and League is closely involved in discussions.
  • Wind Energy Facilities.  The state would establish a permitting system and criteria for wind energy facilities under the requirements of HB 809 – Permitting of Wind Energy Facilities . Bill specifies that it does not limit the ability of a city or county to plan for and regulate siting of a wind energy facility under its land use regulations. Clarification of local authority in these matters is one of the League's legislative priorities.
  • Separation allowances for firefighters and rescue squad workers.  SB 908 – Fire and Rescue Separation Allowances would provide annual separation allowance equal to 0.575 percent of base annual salary for each year of creditable service. Career firefighters and rescue squad workers would be eligible for allowance at 30 years or 55 years and five or more years of service. Allowance would be paid until individual becomes eligible for unreduced Social Security benefits. The League opposes.
  • Smoking ban advances.  The House Judiciary I Committee has given a favorable report to HB 2 – Prohibit Smoking in Public and Work Places. The bill prohibits smoking in public places and in public and private workplaces. It would lift the preemption of local government ordinances and allow local ordinances to be more restrictive than state law The League supports this legislation based on our Municipal Core Prinicples.
  • Jordan Lake Rules.  We continue to work on revisions to the proposed Jordan Lake rules to address various concerns and to achieve a reasonable compromise. Specific aspects of the rules that need modification or removal include costly and burdensome provisions for stormwater retrofit of existing development, the timeline for wastewater treatment upgrades, and requirements for local governments to implement the state's buffer program. Jordan Lake rules likely to be used as model for rules elsewhere, so issue is of statewide importance.

 

Federal Stimulus Spotlight

Wastewater project applications

Applications for wastewater stimulus funding will be accepted through Friday, April 3, 2009.  The Construction Grants & Loans section of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources has instructions for applying.  Please contact Section Chief Dan Blaisdell with questions at (919) 715-6211…

EPA stimulus guides

EPA has assembled guides for local governments to assist in seeking out federal stimulus funding.  The guides offer program details and contact information.  View either a general clean energy guide or an energy efficiency guide.

Get updated stimulus information

The UNC-CH School of Government has established a listserv for elected and appointed officials to share federal stimulus information. You can register for the listserv.

Regulatory Update

Permeable pavement rule change April 1:

All parking lots with at least one acre of vehicular surface area approved for construction on or after April 1, 2009 will be limited in impervious cover of no more than 80 percent of the total area devoted to parking. The new statutory requirements only apply in those areas that are not presently mandated by state or federal provisions to treat stormwater runoff.  Read the new requirements at http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/su/parkingspaces.htm .

Introduction to the NC Environmental Stewardship Initiative

In a webinar April 7, staff of the N.C. Environmental Stewardship Initiative will give an introduction to this program, which assists participating facilities promote healthy environmental practices.  The Initiative is a voluntary program open to DENR-regulated facilities, including city and town facilities. Currently 118 sites are members. Register for webinar at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/637460646 .  Learn more about the NC Environmental Initiative.

 

Action Items

Contact your legislators about these issues ...

Support HB 727/SB 472 – Annexation Changes
What the bills would do: Enact 20 changes to address legitimate concerns of citizens while retaining fairness of annexation for in-town residents and annexation as tool for managing growth. Improve annexation process and requirements for communicating with citizens, water and sewer extension requirements, and annexation standards and requirements. Provide for towns to annex low-wealth areas that desperately need municipal services but do not qualify for annexation.
Sponsors: Reps. Jimmy Love, Lucy Allen, Kelly Alexander and Edgar Starnes; Sens. Vernon Malone, Tony Rand
Actions Needed: Ask your legislators to support HB 727 and SB 472 as the legislation to revise the state's statutes. Get your local Chamber, civic groups and municipal residents engaged in the issue. There are already more than 20 other annexation bills introduced that the League opposes as written (check Legislative Action Center for more info).

 

Oppose HB 750 – Restore Contract Rights to State/Local (SB 427)
What the bill would do: Lift the prohibition against collective bargaining between labor unions and city, county and state governments.
Sponsor: Rep. Dan Blue
Status: House Judiciary II Committee
Action Needed : Ask your representatives to oppose this bill.
Why: We do not need an adversarial process for deciding appropriate salaries, benefits and work conditions.

 

Oppose SB 1004— “Level Playing Field”/Cities/Service Providers

What the bill would do:  Sets significant and prohibitive requirements in place for cities and towns that need to provide phone, cable television and high-speed internet to their residents due to lack of coverage by private providers. 
Sponsors: Sens. David Hoyle, Debbie Clary
Status:   Senate Commerce Committee
Action Needed:   Explain to your legislators how this affects communications service to your residents and the economic development future of your town.  Ask your legislators to oppose.  Cities and towns must have the ability to make managerial, financial and operational decisions on municipal services that benefit your residents and invest in your town's future. 

 

Support HB 186 – Local Government Objections to ABC Stores
What the bill would do: Allow local governments to object to the location of an ABC store if the city or town has held public hearing, taken evidence and passed a resolution objecting to location. League supports bill.
Sponsor: Reps. Larry Womble, Bill McGee, Earline Parmon and Dale Folwell
Status: Passed House. Moves to Senate
Actions needed: Ask your senators to support HB 186.

 

Bill Summaries

Environment

HB 782 – SAFE ARTIFICIAL SLOPE CONSTRUCTION ACT
Sponsors: Rapp, Fisher, Haire
Status: House Environment
Requires local governments to adopt ordinances regulating site planning, design and construction of artificial slopes in mountainous areas, where slope is 40% or greater or area has a moderate or high slide hazard ranking.

HB 802 - DELINEATE RIVER BASINS
Sponsors: Allen, Gibson
Status : House Water Resources & Infrastructure
Delineates boundaries of river basins in North Carolina.  Eliminates references to sub-basins.  Interbasin transfer certificates issued before July 1, 2009 continue in effect.  Person with certificate issued prior to July 1, 2009 may request modification consistent with this change.

SB 755 - PROMOTE PRIVATE MITIGATION BANKS
Sponsors: Clodfelter
Status: Senate Agriculture/Environment
Includes wetlands and stream mitigation in definition of compensatory mitigation.  Provides that applicant other than DOT may only pay compensatory mitigation fee into the Riparian Buffer Fund if participation in a private mitigation bank is unavailable.  Provides that applicants other than DOT can only purchase nutrient offset fees in Riparian Buffer Fund if participation in a private nutrient offset bank is unavailable.

SB 778 - ELIMINATE OVERLAP BETWEEN CAMA AND SEPA
Sponsors: Soles
Status:   Senate Agriculture/Environment
Provides that major developments subject to permitting under CAMA are exempt from the State Environmental Policy Act.

General Government
SB 695 – RESTRAINING OF DOGS
Sponsors: Garrou
Status: Senate Judiciary I
Amends state law provisions regarding methods of tethering dogs.  Allows cities and counties to prohibit tethering or reduce the time of permissible tethering.  

SB 807 – PUBLIC SAFETY REGISTRATION
Sponsors : Jones
Status: Senate Judiciary II
Makes it unlawful to possess, purchase or have custody of characteristically wild animals (lions, tigers, leopards, bears), with certain exceptions.  Allows continued ownership of such animals acquired before Jan. 1, 2010, subject to registration with local animal control.  Allows cities and counties to adopt more restrictive ordinances.  

SB 822 – EDUCATION INFRASTRUCTURE ACT
Sponsors: Jenkins
Status: Senate Finance
Allows infrastructure procurement projects involving partnerships between private entities and public entities (including cities).  Projects can include any building or facility that meets a public purpose developed or operated by or for a public entity; utility infrastructure; telecommunications infrastructure; recreational facilities; education facilities; and others.  

SB 866 – APA RULES: INCREASING COSTS PROHIBITION 
Sponsors: Hoyle
Status: Senate Agriculture/Environment
Prohibits rulemaking that results in additional costs on those subject to the rule unless adoption of the rule is required to respond to a serious and unforeseen threat to public health, safety or welfare; an act of the General Assembly or US Congress; a change in federal or state budgetary policy; a federal regulation; or a court order.  

SB 891 – REGULATION OF LODGING ESTABLISHMENTS
Sponsors: Hartsell
Status: Senate Commerce
Among other things, authorizes cities and counties to regulate, license and inspect single-room occupancy facilities.  1Clarifies that the act is not construed to impair a city's existing authority to apply nonresidential building standards to lodging establishments.  

Personnel

HB 805 – WORKERS' COMP/CALCULATION OF INCOME
Sponsors: Glazier
Status: House Commerce
Includes the employer's contributions to the employee's retirement accounts in the calculation of average weekly wage under workers' comp.

Planning & Zoning

SB 790 - STREET CONSTRUCTION/DEVELOPER RESPONSIBILITY
Sponsors: Swindell
Status: Senate Commerce
Provides that subdivision ordinance that requires developer to provide for construction and dedication of acceleration and deceleration lanes, traffic storage lanes, and medians are limited to amount necessary to serve projected traffic generated by proposed development as a percentage of total use of the street or highway.

SB 831 - EXTEND PERMITS REGARDING LAND DEVELOPMENT
Sponsors: Clodfelter
Status: Senate Commerce
Extends permits and approvals affecting physical development of real property.  For any government approval in existence during  period from Jan. 1, 2007 through Dec. 31, 2010, the running of period of approval is automatically suspended for extension period; the tolling may not extend any approval more than six months beyond the extension period.  In addition to various state permits and approvals, applies to local approvals of sketch plans, preliminary plats, subdivision plats, site-specific development plans, phased development plans, development agreements and building permits.  

Transportation

SB 910 – REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITIES
Sponsors: Clodfelter
Status: Senate Commerce
Authorizes two or more units of government to enter a regional transportation funding agreement that creates an agency to exercise delegated powers, provided they are in a single EPA ozone attainment area, have no more than one MPO, include all counties in the attainment area and all cities of 5,000 or more.  Agency prepares list of transportation projects to be funded, at least 35% of which must be public transportation projects.  Authorizes counties that participate in the agreement to levy a sales tax of one-half percent and a gas tax of 5 cents per gallon.