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Bulletin: May 20, 2010 

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“LINC in Thursday” (LIT) Conference Calls

Towns across the state have asked for more communication on key legislative issues. “LINC in Thursday” (LIT) conference calls are being held weekly on Thursdays at 3 p.m. to provide members up to the minute updates on legislative action.  Email LeagueLINC@nclm.org to participate.

 Senate Approves Budget

Today the Senate approved its version of the $19 billion state budget, which contained no reductions to state-collected municipal revenues for FY 10-11 or significant increases in fees or charges to municipalities.   The Senate budget did include a measure that will slightly improve local revenues by revising how sales and occupancy taxes are paid for online bookings of hotel rooms. 

While this is all good news, the House must still approve its version of the budget. Questions remain about how much additional federal revenue will be available to help reduce the state Medicaid shortfall, so additional budget cuts may be needed if the federal aid is actually less than expected.  The House plans to hold a public hearing on the budget on Monday night at NC State and to complete action on its version of the budget within two weeks.

Senate Appropriations Committee Report

No NC Mobility Fund So Far

The Senate budget did not create or fund the NC Mobility Fund, despite Governor Perdue’s inclusion of the concept in her budget.  The League supports the Fund, due to a growing need for infrastructure investment on projects of statewide significance that are often not completed due to their high cost. It is important that the Mobility Fund be included in the House Budget proposal. 

ACTION NEEDED: The Governor is having a Mobility Fund press conference on Monday, May 24 at 2:30 in the Raleigh area – location to be decided. Three mayors will be speaking, but we are hoping many of you can attend. If you can attend, please call the League at (919) 715-4000 on Monday morning for the location.

ALSO: Please call members of the House Transportation Appropriations Committee this weekend, before they meet Monday, May 24 to discuss transportation issues in the House Budget, and ask them to include the NC Mobility Fund in their recommendations. 

DOT MOBILITY FACT SHEET

SB 1209 Hurts Broadband for Citizens and Business

SB 1209 ("No Non-Voted Local Debt for Competing System") limits municipalities pursuing broadband for their citizens and businesses to use of General Obligation (GO) bonds to fund broadband systems. NC cities and towns oppose the bill - its intent is to force local referendums that are then fought with well-funded campaigns by private internet providers.

ACTION NEEDED: Please contact members of Senate Finance to express your concerns.

League position on municipal broadband.

City Participation in NCDOT Projects Could Change

Companion bills introduced this week would eliminate protections for cities which chose not to (or are unable to) participate financially in state transportation projects.  HB 1734 / SB 1159 (“DOT Powers and Duties Changes”) would eliminate the provision that participation by one local government “does not cause any disadvantage to any other project in the Transportation Improvement Program.” 

League members are concerned about the extent to which this change might open the door to compulsory local participation across all NCDOT projects, and the likely outcome of cities and towns competing against each other for NCDOT funding of priority projects.

HB 524 – Annexation Bill Goes to Senate Rules Committee

The annexation bill (HB 524) that includes a referendum provision and passed the House in 2009 was sent to Senate Rules committee early this week.  The bill, which is unlikely to be heard this session, is not supported by the League due to its effect on well-managed growth and quality of life for our communities.  The short session is not the appropriate time to address these controversial issues. 

Separately, SB 1236/(HB 1867)  ("Annexing Low-income Areas") was introduced and sent to Senate Rules.  While the League strongly supports the concept behind these bills and continues to have it as part of our overall proposed annexation package, we believe the annexation issues need to be addressed as one package. 

ABC System Reform Bills Expected to be Addressed Soon

SB 1112 ("Modernization of the State ABC System") and its companion, HB 1717, have been introduced.  While many city and town concerns have been addressed, the League is very involved in discussions with legislators and other key stakeholders.  Some are interested in strengthening the ethics language currently contained in the bill. 

In addition, the League remains concerned about the General Manager salary provision tied to the salary of the Superior Court clerk of the county.  Further, we remain committed to addressing overall ABC system safety needs and inappropriate location of alcohol establishments. The bills are expected to be heard in committee in the next two weeks. 

League’s current position on ABC Reform. 

League’s Advocacy Agenda.

Water Infrastructure Bills Introduced

The Water & Wastewater Infrastructure Study committee introduced a package of bills this week. HB 1743 through HB 1751 deal mainly with either appropriations to state funding agencies or directing DENR, among other groups, to study issues relating to water and wastewater infrastructure.

The two bills of priority for League members to actively lobbying for are HB 1744 Water Funding Priorities and HB 1746 Water Infrastructure Database/Task Force. HB 1744 will amend the common criteria set in state law to have funding agencies give more priority points for projects that include aspects of regionalization, drought management, water efficiency, etc. HB 1746 will create a task force to design and plan a statewide water database that would list current and future projects, funding status, information and training documents.

Additional Bills of Interest

·         Clayton / Electronic Notices (HB 710)

·         Wake Email Address Lists / Electronic Access (HB 1921)

·         Eminent Domain (HB1659)

·         E-911 (HB 1691)

·         Public Campaign Financing (HB 120)

·         City/Town Development Moratoria Prohibition (SB 117)

·         Open Government Act (HB 1134)

·         No Monetary Exaction for Development (SB 447)

·         Street Construction/Developer Responsibility (SB 761)

·         Uniform Apportionment of Tort Responsibility (HB 813)

Environmental Regulations

Environmental Management Commission Postpones Discussion

Last week, at the request of the League, members of the Environmental Management Commission's Water Quality Committee (WQC) postponed discussion on the proposed statewide nutrient management strategy.  The proposal targets local governments and would require implementation of water quality improvement strategies such as stormwater controls, riparian buffer zones, and wastewater treatment plant upgrades.  Before the WQC considers proposals in July, the League will provide comments focusing on statutory authority for the proposal.

Federal

Mandatory Collective Bargaining: Still a Threat in Congress

Damaging Collective Bargaining bills are pending in the US Congress - The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009 (S 3194 & HR 413). These bills mandate that all municipalities are required to collectively bargain with public safety employee labor unions over wages, benefits & working conditions. S 3194 could come to floor vote any day.

ACTION NEEDED: Please call Senator Kay Hagan's office (202-224-6342), ask her to vote against cloture (procedural vote) and against the bill. This is a state's rights issue and Congress should not be dictating local personnel matters.

Upcoming Events

Follow Key League Bills on League LINC

You can follow bills of interest to the League this session by clicking here.  If you are a municipal official, you can also leave comments about the positive or negative impacts a particular bill may have after selecting the bill number and choosing “Post Your Comments.”  That information will be seen by the Director of Governmental Affairs only. 

Mark your calendars now for Town Hall Day, Wednesday June 16!

 S. Ellis Hankins           Executive Director   

Kelli H. Kukura              Director of Governmental Affairs