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 April 3 

This week's developments

  • Transportation Corridor Mapping Changes Bills Introduced (SB1001/HB881).  Two companion bills have been introduced that could result in the transfer of state-maintained roads to municipalities and will also split Powell Bill fund distribution.  Rather than paying all money on October 1, 2010, half payments would be made on December 1, 2010 and June 1, 2011.  The League opposes these bills and will work with the sponsors and others regarding our concerns.
  • House passes smoking ban.  The House approved legislation that would ban secondhand smoke from restaurants and other businesses where minors are present, but which gives bars the option to allow smoking.  The bill now goes to the Senate.  The League supports the legislation based on our core principles.
  • Prevent theft of scrap metals.  The House commerce Committee appointed a subcommittee to work on HB 323 – Prevent Theft of Metals.  Bill strengthens documentation requirements for dealers to discourage theft of metals.  This is a League priority because theft of metals from municipal infrastructure has become a problem for cities and towns.
  • Earlier retirement for firefighters and rescue workers. Rep. Hugh Holliman introduced HB 873  - Fire and Rescue Workers' Retirement, which would allow career firefighters and rescue squad workers to retire under the same conditions as law enforcement officers (age and years of service), but does not extend special separation allowance.  Provides additional retirement benefits for particular classes of employees.  League opposes.
  • Heard at the General Assembly.  Kinston Mayor Buddy Ritch and Manager Scott Stevens led a group of Kinston citizens who visited with legislators this week to discuss the need for annexation.  Also, Granite Falls officials, including Manager Linda Story, met with their legislators.  Several other town leaders made time to voice their opinions in Raleigh this week as well.  Our thanks to all who take the time to be heard.  You are the League's best voice and your efforts do make a difference.

  

Federal Stimulus Spotlight

Drinking water project public comment

The Public Water Supply Section (PWSS) of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources will accept public comment on drinking water projects until Tuesday, April 7, 2009.  PWSS invites public comment on its project list and criteria for selection of projects to be funded from federal stimulus funds.  A public hearing on the same topics was held April 3, 2009 in Raleigh.  Email comments to Sid Harrell.

Energy efficiency block grant program

A recent announcement of federal stimulus funding for the Energy Efficiency Block Grant Program has generated interest and confusion.  North Carolina received $58 million for this program, and it is distributed in two ways.

First, cities with a population over 35,000 received an allotment (totaling $37.1 million) directly from the US Department of Energy by formula.  Those cities still must apply for the funds.  You can find directions to apply here.

Second, cities with a population under 35,000 will compete statewide for $20.9 million.  These cities will apply to the NC State Energy Office.  At this point, the State Energy Office has not provided details about how to apply for these funds.  The League is working with the State Energy Office in formulating the distributions under this program. ...

Get updated stimulus information

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

 

Action Items

Contact your legislators in the next few days about these issues ...

Oppose SB 1004— Stops Broadband Development in NC;  Renamed: “Block Broadband from NC Communities” Bill
What the bill would do: Sets significant and prohibitive requirements against 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.  Stifles planning for future economic development by shutting down a community's ability to provide fiber optic network as the future infrastructure for growth and public safety needs.  Prohibits cities from receiving funds from the $4.7 billion in federal stimulus money targeted for the development of rural communications infrastructure.
Sponsors: Sens. David Hoyle, Debbie Clary
Status: Senate Commerce Committee
Actions Needed: Explain to your legislators how this affects communications and public safety services to your residents and the economic development future of your town.  Ask your legislators to strongly 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.  The League has formed a large coalition to oppose this bill.  If your town is interested in working with us, please contact jwebb@nclm.org or 919-715-1726.

 

Oppose HB 255 – Zoning/Agriculture Annexation Exemption (Committee Substitute)
What the bill would do: Prohibit towns from zoning of any property used for “agricultural interest” that is annexed. Also prohibits zoning of “agricultural interest” land in a municipality's extraterritorial jurisdiction.  Agricultural interest is defined very broadly to include all farming, agri-tourism, equine activities, petting zoos.  This would allow an indefinite ban on zoning such land.  With no zoning, a property owner could easily switch to any use, including industrial, intensive animal operations, high-rise development, etc. and gain vested rights to continue that use.  Currently agricultural land, when annexed, is included in the annexation boundaries but is not subject to property taxes until the use changes.
Sponsors: Reps. Cleveland, Hill, Langdon, McGee
Status: House Agriculture Committee gave favorable report.  Referred to House Finance Committee.
Action Needed : Contact your legislators and members of the House Finance Committee.  Ask them to oppose this no-zoning bill. 

 

Support HB727/SB472 — Annexation Changes – now in House Judiciary II and Senate Finance
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. 
Sponsors: Reps. Love, Starnes, Allen, K. Alexander; Sens. Rand, Malone
StatusAll House annexation bills, including HB 727, have been referred to the House Judiciary II Committee.  Senate annexation bills, including SB 472, have been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
Actions Needed:   Contact House Speaker Joe Hackney (919-733-3451) and Rep. Hugh Holliman (919-715-0873). and members of the House Judiciary II and the Senate Finance committees.  Ask them to support HB 727 and SB 472 as the legislation to revise the state's annexation statutes. Explain why a vote by annexed residents is not right for North Carolina.  See Legislative Action Center for more information.

House Judiciary II Committee  -- Chair: Rep. Dan Blue; Vice Chairs: Reps. Rick Glazier, Jimmy Love, Jennifer Weiss; Members: Reps. Hugh Blackwell; Alice Bordsen, Justin Burr, Jim Crawford, Dale Folwell, Pat Hurley, Darren Jackson, Linda Johnson, Earl Jones, Tim Moore, Earline Parmon, Johnathan Rhyne, Tim Spear. 

Senate Finance Committee Co-Chairs: Sens. David Hoyle, Dan Clodfelter, Clark Jenkins, Fletcher Hartsell; Vice Chair: Sen. Larry Shaw; Members: Sens. Charlie Albertson, Austin Allran, Tom Apodaca, Bob Atwater, Phil Berger, Charlie Dannelly, Floyd McKissick, Joe Sam Queen, David Rouzer, R.C. Soles, Harris Blake, Julia Boseman, Andrew Brock, Harry Brown, Don East, Tony Foriest, Linda Garrou, Eddie Goodall, Steve Goss, Neal Hunt, Ellie Kinnaird, Martin Nesbitt, Jean Preston, Bill Purcell, Tony Rand, Bob Rucho, Josh Stein, Richard Stevens, A. B Swindell, Jerry Tillman, David Weinstein.

 

Oppose  HB 750 – Restore Contract Rights to State/Local (SB427)
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
Actions needed: Ask your representatives to oppose this bill.
WhyWe do not need an expensive, adversarial management/employee process.  We need to work collaboratively and respectfully to provide the best work environment, salaries and benefits possible, while providing excellent service to the taxpayers.

 

Oppose HB 768 – Modernization of the ABC System (SB 831)
What the bill would do: 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.”
Sponsor: Rep. Jim Crawford
Status: House Committee on Alcohol Beverage Control
Action Needed: Ask your representatives to oppose.  Sample resolution on issue available on request – contact jwebb@nclm.org.

 

Bill Summaries

Beginning April 10, the bill summaries will not be published in the weekly Legislative Bulletin, but will be available online by 5 p.m. each Friday at www.nclm.org (click on the Legislative Action Center) and then click on “Bill Summaries.”

 

ELECTIONS

Bill: HB 974–Political Robo Calls/Do Not Call Registry
Sponsors: Martin; Harrison
Status: House Election Law
Adds political messages communicated by use of an automatic dialing and recorded message to the items subject to the do not call registry.

ENVIRONMENT

Bill: HB 846 – Statewide Water Infrastructure Plan
Sponsors: Crawford
Status: House Water Resources/Infrastructure
Directs the State Water Infrastructure Commission to develop a statewide strategic plan and needs assessment for water and wastewater infrastructure funding.

Bill: SB 1068 – Permitting of Wind Energy Facilities
Sponsors: Albertson
Status: Senate Agriculture/Environment
Provides criteria for state permitting of wind energy facilities.  Preserves local land use authority with regard to siting of such facilities.  

FINANCE AND TAXATION

Bill: HB 852 – Defer Tax on Builders' Inventory
Sponsors: Brubaker; Wainwright; Holliman; Dickson
Status: House Commerce
Makes a residence owned by a builder and held for resale a special class for property tax purposes.  Allows builder to defer the portion of tax imposed on the property that represents the increase in value of the property attributable to improvements resulting from construction of the residence.  Deferred taxes are due when builder transfers the residence, or five years from the time the improved property was first subject to being listed for taxation by the builder.

GENERAL GOVERNMENT

Bill: HB 885 – No Picketing/Disrupt Residential Tranquility
Sponsors: Ross
Status: House Ways and Means
Prohibits picketing directed at a single residence in a manner that disrupts the tranquility of that residence.  Does not prohibit general picketing that proceeds through residential neighborhoods or past residences.

Bill: HB 912 – Encourage Use of Military Veteran Contractors
Sponsors: Sutton; Parmon; Killian; McElraft
Status: House Homeland Security
Provides for state and local governments to establish verifiable percentage goals for contracting with military veterans in construction contracts, similar to existing provisions governing women and minority owned businesses.

INCORPORATIONS

Bill: HB 958 – Incorporate Fontana Dam
Sponsors: West
Status: House Judiciary I
Incorporate the Town of Fontana Dam in Graham County, effective when the act becomes law.

PLANNING AND ZONING

Bill: SB 1027 – Zoning Change/Abutting Prop. Owner Notice
Sponsors: Rand
Status: Senate State and Local Government
Requires notification of abutting property owners of proposed zoning map amendments by certified mail, return receipt requested.  If an abutting owner is not notified by certified mail with a returned receipt, notice must be served by the county sheriff.

Bill: SB 1049 – Model Airport Zoning Act Amendments
Sponsors: Rand
Status: Senate Commerce
Requires every local government with an airport within its territorial limits to adopt airport zoning regulations to protect the airport.  Where airport is owned by one unit but located in another unit's jurisdiction, provides for zoning by interlocal agreement or creation of joint airport zoning board.  Specifies minimum requirements for all airport zoning regulations.

Bill: SB 1080 – Mining Permit –Application Review by Locals
Sponsors: Snow
Status: Senate Agriculture/Environment
Requires determination of whether a proposed mining permit, or a modification to add land to the permitted area, is consistent with local zoning regulations prior to DENR taking further action on the application.

RETIREMENT

Bill: HB 816 – Clarify Local Special Separation Allowance
Sponsors: McLawhorn; Weiss; Dollar; Cotham
Status: House Pensions and Retirement
Clarifies that law enforcement officer's special separation allowance ceases on the first day of reemployment by a local government employer in any capacity.  Allows local government employer to voluntarily adopt a policy allowing employment of retired officers on a contractual basis, or in a temporary or reserve capacity, without causing cessation of payment.

UTILITIES

Bill: HB 820 – Utilities/Regulation of Pole Attachments
Sponsors: McComas; Dickson; Carney; Tillis
Status: House Public Utilities
Requires a municipality or cooperatively owned organization that owns poles, ducts, or conduits to allow any communications service provider (telephone, broadband, cable) to utilize its poles, ducts, and conduits at just, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory cost-based rates, terms, and conditions adopted pursuant to negotiated or arbitrated agreements. A request to utilize poles, ducts, or conduits may be denied only if there is insufficient capacity or reasons of safety, reliability, and generally applicable engineering principles, and those limitations cannot be remedied by rearranging, expanding, or otherwise reengineering the facilities at the reasonable and actual cost of the communications service provider.