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 July 2 

This week's development

Agreement reached on condemnation of conservation easements

The stakeholders involved with SB 600 – Condemnation of Conservation Easements reached agreement on provisions of this bill, and the House Environment Committee approved it Thursday, July 2. The League successfully negotiated numerous provisions – most importantly that cities could continue to condemn properties encumbered with conservation easements for municipal utility projects. We are extremely grateful for the diligence of Rep. Ruth Samuelson in reaching this compromise.

Progress on bill clarifying law enforcement separation allowance

SB 986 – Clarify LEO Separation Allowance - has been approved by the House Committee State Personnel. The League supports this version, which clarifies the law concerning the application and administration of the special allowance for law enforcement officers. We appreciate the willingness of Rep. Tricia Cotham and Sen. Floyd McKissick to consider municipal concerns in crafting this bill.

Open Government Bill heard in House Finance Committee

The House Finance Committee discussed HB 1134 – Open Government Bill this week and is expected to vote on the legislation next week. HB 1134 requires awarding of attorneys' fees to anyone who “substantially prevails” in a public records case against a city, town, county or the state. It also creates an Open Government Unit in the Attorney General's Office to serve as a mediator in resolving public records and open meetings disputes. Our requests to have language added that would prevent attorneys' fees from being awarded if the city acted on the advice of its attorney have not yet been accepted. The League is opposed to the proposed legislation.

Committee approves property tax deferral for builders' inventory

The Senate Finance Committee approved the committee substitute for HB 852 – Defer Tax on Builder's Inventory , which passed the House last week. The bill now creates a property tax deferral for up to three years on newly constructed homes that are for sale. The deferral applies only to the house structure; not to land, additions, renovations, remodeling, etc. Taxes become payable when the house is sold. This is a relief measure for builders during the current recession. The League was able to obtain a sunset provision in the bill and remove the impact for FY 2009-2010 that has just started. The bill now will go to the Senate floor.

Senate Committee approves Local Government Code of Ethics bill

The Senate Committee on State and Local Government has approved HB 1452 – Local Government Code of Ethics , which previously passed the House. This bill requires all local governments to adopt a code of ethics for the governing board whose members would be required to receive at least two hours of training on conflicts of interest and ethical standards within one year of each election or appointment to office. The bill now moves to the Senate floor. The League supports this bill.

Discussion of intermodal transport bill postponed

The Senate Commerce Committee has deferred consideration of HB 148 – Intermodal Transport Fund . This bill would allow five counties to levy a one-half cent local option sales tax for transit, subject to voter approval. Additionally, it would authorize 94 other counties to levy a one-quarter cent local option sales tax, subject to voter approval. Authorization for the 94 counties to levy a one-quarter cent tax seems to be the major point of contention on this bill.

 

Action Items

House Finance Committee Passes “Compromise” HB 524 with Referendum Amendment – League Now Opposes Bill

The House Finance Committee late today gave a favorable report to HB 524 – Annexation – Omnibus Changes that included a last-minute amendment to allow for a referendum of the municipality and the proposed annexation area. The annexation vote would only take place after 15 percent of the registered voters in town and in the proposed annexed areas petitioned for a vote. The bill now goes to the House floor.

We Need Your Issues & Ideas …

Time to update the League's advocacy agenda for 2010, and we need your ideas. Let us know what issues are important to your town or city. We welcome specific needs or broader, strategic suggestions for priorities. For a copy of the current agenda.  Also see the notice on procedure also in this issue of the Legislative Bulletin for more details.

With the amendment, this version is a disappointment, especially following the intense work that the House Judiciary II put into a compromise. A few technical amendments to HB 524 were passed. Fortunately, several bad amendments were voted down following the vote on the referendum.

We'd like to thank Rep. Pryor Gibson for his diligent work in chairing the House Finance Committee. We'd also like to offer special thanks to Rep. Luebke, Rep. Weiss, Rep. Alexander, Rep. Ross, Rep. Owens and Rep. Wainwright for their tireless leadership.

Status: The bill now goes to the House floor for a vote. Meanwhile, a Senate Finance subcommittee is also considering the annexation issue and all Senate annexation bills are before that subcommittee.

Budget Update – Discuss Importance of Privilege License Tax with Legislators

House and Senate budget negotiations continue to move forward, with a continuing resolution adopted to keep state government operating through July 15. There is continuing disagreement between the two chambers over how to raise approximately $1B in new revenue. One item of significant concern is the apparent agreement to eliminate the privilege license tax, which raises approximately $50M for municipalities statewide. Please contact the following members to let them know how important this municipal revenue source is to your town:

Senate Budget Conferee Co-Chairs

Sen. Linda Garrou   (919) 733-5620    Lindag@ncleg.net

Sen. Charles W. Albertson   (919) 733.5705    Charliea@ncleg.net

Sen. Charlie Smith Dannelly   (919) 733-5955    Charlied@ncleg.net

Sen. A. B. Swindell   (919) 715-3030    ABS@ncleg.net

House Budget Conferee Chairs Rep. Henry M. Michaux, Jr.

(919) 715-2528

Mickey.Michaux@ncleg.net

 

Rep. Alma Adams

(919) 733-5902

Alma.Adams@ncleg.net

 

Rep. Martha B. Alexander

(919) 733-5807

Martha.Alexander@ncleg.net

 

Rep. James W. Crawford, Jr.

(919) 733-5824

Jim.Crawford@ncleg.net

 

Rep. R. Phillip Haire

(919) 715-3005

Phillip.Haire@ncleg.net

 

Rep. Maggie Jeffus

(919) 733-5191

Maggie.Jeffus@ncleg.net

 

Rep. Joe P. Tolson

(919) 715-3024

Joe.Tolson@ncleg.net

 

Rep. Douglas Y. Yongue

(919) 733-5821

Douglas.Yongue@ncleg.net

 

Rep. Paul Luebke

(919) 733-7663

Paul.Luebke@ncleg.net

 

Rep. Pryor Gibson

(919) 715-3007

Pryor.Gibson@ncleg.net

 

Rep. William L. Wainwright

(919) 733-5995

William.Wainwright@ncleg.net

 

Rep. Jennifer Weiss

(919) 715-3010

Jennifer.Weiss@ncleg.net

Rep. Hugh Holliman

(919) 715-0873

Hugh.Holliman@ncleg.net

Rep. Bill Owens

(919) 733-0010

Bill.Owens@ncleg.net

 

Oppose HB 1268 – Eminent Domain
Update: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Justice and Public Safety has approved HB 1268 - Eminent Domain , which calls for a constitutional amendment to prohibit use of eminent domain for economic development. An exception is provided for blighted property.
Sponsor: Rep. Stam
Status: The House Judiciary II Committee previously had approved this bill, so it now goes to the House floor.
Action needed: Please ask your House members to oppose this bill. A constitutional amendment is unnecessary since use of eminent domain for general economic development already is prohibited by N.C. state statutes.