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Bulletin: June 24, 2010 

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Budget Negotiations Moving Quickly

With less than a week left before the start of the fiscal year, House and Senate negotiators still hope to have a budget in place by July 1.   Negotiators appear to have resolved most differences between their versions of the State budget (SB 897 – Appropriations Act of 2010), but are still determining how to make the cuts that would take effect if $472 million in supplemental Medicaid funds are not approved by Congress.  There is still concern that municipal revenues may be cut as part of this effort.

ACTION: Continue to contact your legislators and remind them of the important role that State-collected revenues play in your budget and the consequences of their possible loss.

Internet Sweepstakes Cafés Ban Passes Senate

HB 80 - Ban Electronic Sweepstakes passed out of the N.C. Senate this week. The bill, which the League supports, bans the use of electronic machines and devices for sweepstakes purposes. It also details tightly defined uses of electronic devices that are not banned. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary 1 Committee, and League staff believes there is a good chance of passage in the House this short session. Click here for more information on the League’s position.

ACTION: Please contact the House Judiciary 1 Committee and let them know the importance of passing this ban on Internet sweepstakes cafés this legislative short session.

ABC Modernization Bill Passes House; In Senate Committee Tuesday

The League continues to support HB 1717 — Modernization of the State ABC System.  League members and staff have worked closely with legislators and stakeholders throughout the process to ensure local government needs were met.  The bill takes a strong stand on ethics reform, salaries, and board standards.  It provides more local government authority, as well as more input from the state ABC Commission.  All local government revenues from the ABC system remain intact.  The issue of additional local law enforcement support for Alcohol Law Enforcement officers continues to be a concern.  Also, we are working with legislative leaders regarding earlier local input into the ABC permitting process.  The bill is expected to be heard in the Senate Judiciary II Committee on Tuesday.  Click here for the League’s current position and additional information on the bill.

E911 Bill Passes House

The House approved HB 1691 this week, which now: requires the 911 Board to take into account interlocal funding agreements between primary public safety answering points (PSAPs) and existing secondary 911 call centers in establishing a new funding formula;  creates a legislative study of the funding of secondary PSAPs; expands the permitted uses of the 911 funds; and authorizes 50 percent of existing fund balances to be spent on any public safety need.  While we believe the law is clear, we are working to protect existing arrangements to ensure that primary PSAPs can continue to share funds with secondary PSAPs.  If your town has a secondary PSAP that would like to enter into an agreement, contact your Senate member(s) and share your story.

Call Now If You Want Mobility Fund

As budget negotiations continue, the future of the N.C. Mobility Fund is uncertain. However, it appears that an agreement has been reached to include the Mobility Fund in the final version of the budget. Budget leaders are currently considering whether to include supplemental Powell Bill money in the Fund.

ACTION: Please contact the following legislators this weekend: Reps. Adams, M. Alexander, Crawford, Haire, Jeffus, Michaux, Tolson, and Yongue. Ask them to include supplemental Powell Bill funds totaling 6.5% of the Fund’s balance in the Mobility Fund as part of the state budget.

Attempt at Further Permit Extensions for Building

HB 683 (originally the “Adopt NC Hot Sauce Day” bill) was converted into a bill that would extend the sunset of the building permit extension legislation passed last session – from a December 31, 2010 sunset to a December 31, 2012 sunset.  The League reluctantly agreed to the changes last year, and strongly opposes any additional changes to the original compromise.  Significant concerns and examples have come to us about the negative impacts this extension has caused, including homeowners and lot owners left with partially completed infrastructure, environmental problems, and partially completed subdivisions. The bill passed the Senate Wednesday and is on its way to the House for consideration.

ACTION: Please respond to LeagueLINC@nclm.org with any examples or concerns you have about further permit extensions and please contact your House members with those concerns.

Comprehensive State and Local Government Ethics Package Passes Senate Committees

The Senate ethics package, HB 961 – Gov’t Ethics and Campaign Reform Act of 2010, passed two Senate committees this week and was sent to the floor, only to be pulled back to the Senate Judiciary I Committee.  The issue centered on public campaign financing provisions included in the bill.  Those have now been removed. Additional amendments are expected in committee next week. Currently, the key impacts of the package on local government are: expands disclosure of personnel files to include employee salary and date of each change (historically); prohibits local elected officials/employees from receipt of favors, services, and promises of employment; and allows parties who “substantially prevail” in a court case seeking records to recover attorneys’ fees.  The League is considering a request for an amendment that would allow the opinion of a local government attorney to be among those that would be considered by the court when determining potential payment of attorneys’ fees.  Click here for more information on the bill.

Water Modeling Bill Pulled from Committee

A Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) for SB 1170 - Improve River Basin Modeling was to be heard in the Senate Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee this week but was pulled from the agenda due to concerns by interest groups about its effects on river basin policy. The bill directs the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to develop hydrologic models for river basins with certain definitions that could pose problems to local water systems. The PCS was modified and revised at the request of the League. Work will continue on this bill to ensure it does not have a negative impact on water infrastructure construction.

ACTION: Please contact NCLM Legislative Specialist Nick Tosco and let him know how you believe your local water system could be impacted by the passage of this bill.

E-Recycle Passes House

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, passed out of the House this week. It now goes to the Senate for concurrence. The bill may have to be referred back to the Senate Finance Committee due to the new fee provisions for computer manufacturers. The League continues to support passage of the bill in the short session.

Let the July 4th Celebrations Begin – Safely!

The General Assembly has ratified SB 992 – Pyrotechnics Operator’s License, and it now awaits Governor Perdue’s signature.  While the bill requires additional training requirements for fireworks operators, they will not apply to this year’s July 4th events.

Additional Bills to Track: [Not all inclusive]:

  • Remove Sunset/e-NC Authority (HB 1840)
  • Broadband Task Force (HB 1949)
  • Clayton / Electronic Notices (HB 710)
  • DENR/LGC Evaluate Water System Operations (HB 1743)
  • Eminent Domain (HB 1659)
  • Energy Policy Council Green Energy Study (HB 1804)
  • 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)
  • Pedestrian Safety Improvements (SB 595)
  • Public Campaign Financing (HB 120)
  • Safe Artificial Slope Construction Act (HB 1870)
  • Special Retirement Allowances (HB 2066)
  • State Health Plan / Local Govt Retiree Contribution (HB 2055)
  • 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)

Upcoming Events

Tracking Legislative Bills

You can follow bills of interest, post comments to the Government Affairs team and access your legislator information this session by clicking here or, when visiting the NCLM website, by choosing “bill tracking” in the Legislative Advocacy section of www.nclm.org. Take a few minutes to browse and personalize your access by choosing “Log In” in the Grassroots tab.

This is the Operator, May I Have the Name of Your Municipality

Would you like to be “in the know?” Dial in to the “LINC in Thursday” (LIT) legislative update conference calls so you too can have up to the minute legislative updates.  Calls are held every Thursday at 3 p.m. Twenty minute updates are quick and to the point and finish up by answering your legislative questions. Email LeagueLINC@nclm.org to participate.

 

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