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Bulletin: June 17, 2010 

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Local Revenue Sources Potentially At Risk in Budget Negotiations

As House and Senate negotiators work to resolve differences between their versions of the State budget (SB 897 – Appropriations Act of 2010), the issue of greatest contention is how to treat $472 million in Medicaid funds that are currently assumed as revenues but may not be provided by Congress.  Negotiators appear to be planning to exclude these revenues and pass a separate measure to spend the funds if they are approved.  As a result, further cuts to spending will be needed. There is real concern that municipal revenues may be cut as part of this effort.  

ACTION:  Talk with your legislative delegation about how the loss of state collected local revenues would affect your community in terms of reduced services or higher taxes.   Note how revenues for your city or town have been affected by the recession. Indicate the budget actions that your city or town already has taken in the last two years in response to the recession.

Internet Sweepstakes Cafes Ban Bill Passes Senate Committee

A proposed committee substitute replaced HB 80 in Senate Judiciary I committee Thursday.  HB 80 - Ban Electronic Sweepstakes bans the use of electronic machines and devices for sweepstakes purposes. The bill details tightly defined uses of electronic devices that are not banned.  The League supports the bill, which now goes to the Senate floor, and then to the House. Click here for a bill analysis. [Note: HB 80 was formerly titled Municipal District Elections 2011/Census.]

ABC Reform Bill Moving Quickly

The ABC reform bill (HB 1717 – Modernization of the State ABC System) was approved by the House State Government Committee this week with some change from the version approved by the House ABC Committee last week.   These changes include raising the threshold for a town to hold a mixed beverage election from 500 to 1,000 registered voters and allowing local ABC boards to have either three or five members, rather than just three. However, next week we expect a House floor amendment that will put the threshold for mixed beverage elections back at 500 registered voters and raise the threshold for the ability to hold an ABC store referendum to 1000 registered voters. The League is continuing to work on amendments related to law enforcement needs and permitting of ABC establishments.

E911 Bill Includes Incentives to Encourage Funding for Secondary PSAPs

The House Finance Committee approved a new version of HB 1691 – Use of 911 Funds, which now includes financial incentives for primary public safety answering points (PSAPs) to enter into interlocal funding agreements with existing secondary 911 call centers, and a legislative study of the funding of secondary PSAPs.   The bill expands the use of the funds for PSAPs, and allows up to 50% of existing fund balances to be spent on any public safety need.

Mobility Fund Fate Uncertain

As budget negotiations continue, the future of the NC Mobility Fund is uncertain, but appears now to be linked to the final state budget bill.  In order to relieve concerns of legislators over the proposed use of unspent toll road gap funding to capitalize the Mobility Fund in the 2010-2011 budget, the NC Turnpike Authority passed a resolution expressing their support of the use of gap funding for the Mobility Fund. An op-ed in today’s Charlotte Observer supports Governor Perdue’s proposed Mobility Fund in the final version of the state budget. The League continues to work for inclusion of the Powell Bill and interstate maintenance provisions.

House Finance to Hear E-recycle

SB 887 – Amend Electronics Recycling Law, which establishes consumer electronic equipment recycling programs for consumers and also establishes a fund for local governments to tap into to provide these e-recycling programs, has passed the House Environment Committee and is now in the House Finance Committee.

ACTION: Please call House Finance Committee members and let them know how important this bill is to your municipality in receiving funds for e-recycle programs.

Water Bills

The new HB 1746 - Water Infrastructure Information Needs (the Database task force bill recommended by the Water & Wastewater Infrastructure Study Committee) passed out of the House Thursday, and is now headed to the Senate Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee. Another water bill that was explained in last week's Bulletin, SB 1170 - Improve River Basin Modeling, was modified and revised at a meeting this week with NCGA staff, DENR, and the League to include some changes recommended by the NCLM Technical Advisory Committee. 

ACTION: Please call or email your Senator and let them know the importance of passing HB 1746 - Water Infrastructure Information Needs and HB 1744 - Modify Water Funding Priorities this short session.  Click here for member talking points on the NC Statewide Water Database bill (HB 1746) and Modify Funding Criteria Bill (HB 1744).

Additional Bills to Track [in alphabetical order by title, not all inclusive]:

  • Broadband Task Force (HB 1949)
  • Clayton / Electronic Notices (HB 710)
  • DENR/LGC Evaluate Water System Operations (HB 1743)
  • Eminent Domain (HB 1659)
  • Government Employees Port Benefits (SB 1386)
  • Government Entity Sales Tax Refund Modification (SB 1430)
  • Local Government Other Post Employment Benefits (SB 1212)
  • Modify Water Funding Priorities (HB 1744)
  • Open Government Act (HB 1134)
  • Public Campaign Financing (HB 120)
  • Safe Artificial Slope Construction Act (HB 1870)
  • State Retirement Age and Service Change (SB 1450)
  • Study Competing Systems / Interim Debt (SB 1209)
  • Wake Email Address Lists / Electronic Access (HB 1921)
  • Water Infrastructure Needs / Close Info Gaps (SB 1291)
  • Water Supply System Capacity Planning (SB 1292)

Federal

Mandatory Collective Bargaining: May move in Congress next week

Damaging Collective Bargaining bills - The Public Safety Employer - Employee Cooperation Act of 2009 (S 3194 & HR 413) - are pending in the US Congress. 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. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may try to attach the bill to a small business package that will be considered by the Senate next week.

ACTION NEEDED: Please call Senator Kay Hagan's office (202-224-6342) and Senator Richard Burr’s office (202-224-3154) to thank them for their continued support 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

As Seen At Town Hall Day

During the legislative briefings of Town Hall Day, we shared the legislative tracking feature, League LINC, now available by choosing ‘bill tracking’ at www.nclm.org.  You can follow bills of interest, post comments to the Government Affairs team and access your legislator information this session by clicking here. Take a few minutes to browse and personalize your access by choosing “Log In” in the Grassroots tab.

Have You Dialed In?

Would you like to be “in the know?” Dial in to the “LINC in Thursday” (LIT) legislative update conference calls so you will know what is happening at the legislature.  Calls are held every Thursday at 3 p.m. Twenty minute updates are quick and to the point. And, we are happy to answer your questions.  Email LeagueLINC@nclm.org to participate.

 

S. Ellis Hankins               Kelli H. Kukura
Executive Director            Director of Governmental Affairs