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ALMOST OVER....

The 2012 Short Session of the General Assembly, which has been a very trying one for North Carolina's cities and towns, is almost over.  The Senate and House adjourned for the weekend and will be back early Monday and Tuesday to finish and adjourn sine die. 

Meanwhile, cities and towns still have some very important legislation hanging in the balance.  Please read below and take action as needed over the weekend.  The last 48 hours of session are always among the most critical...

Contact: Kelli Kukura, 919.889.9040


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Governor Announces Veto of Budget

Governor Bev Perdue announced this morning that she would veto the budget approved by the General Assembly. She cited the budget's funding for public education as one of her primary concerns. When the General Assembly returns to Raleigh on Monday, it could attempt to override her veto, though the House would need some support from Democrats in order to successfully do so. The General Assembly also has the option of making only the necessary adjustments to the second year of the two-year budget passed last session and letting that budget go into effect with no further changes. Regardless of the outcome, we expect the effect on municipal revenues to be minimal.

Contact: Kelli Kukura, 919.889.9040


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SB 382 Aims at Durham and Hits ALL Cities and Towns

SB 382 Amend Water Quality Supply/Water Quality Laws (Rep. Moore, Sen. Apodaca) requires that municipalities that extend water and sewer service to a "designated urban growth area" must also extend water and sewer service to any other property in the urban growth area that requests it. The legislation was brought forward by dropping it in a Proposed Committee Substitute and putting it in a bill that had already passed the Senate, meaning it had to pass the House and then go back to the Senate for a concurrence vote only. There is no exisiting definition of "urban growth area" in the law -- this legislation opens a can of worms that could easily become entangled with ETJ, spheres of influence and other designated areas immediately surrounding municipal boundaries.  The bill sets a very bad precedent.

Thank you to the many local officials who have called your House and Senate members.  The Senate did not concur with the House committee substitute, which is good news. HOWEVER, this issue may worsen in conference committee. The GA team has worked very hard to defeat this legislation. 

ACTION ALERT: Please CALL or go see your Senator at home over the weekend.  Ask them to become involved in ensuring that the decisions of locally elected officials STAY LOCAL.  This bill is an overreach that does not take into account the particular community circumstances, water and sewer capacity, and overall negative local effects of certain development projects.

Contact: Kelli Kukura, 919.889.9040


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ETJ Issues and Study Bill for Incorporations, ETJ and Water/Sewer

To start with the good news, we have been successful in stopping harmful ETJ legislation that was not in the best interest of our citizens.  HB 1043 ETJ Restriction (LaRoque), which essentially eliminated extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) for all cities and towns, remained in committee and was never discussed this session.  SB 949 Eliminate Boone ETJ (Soucek), which would have eliminated Boone's one-mile ETJ, passed the Senate but, after a committee hearing in the House, was moved to be re-referred and died in committee.  In its place are discussions of a study of ETJs, which is contained in SB 231 Incorporation/ETJ Study (Hartsell). Also included in that bill are studies of municipal incorporations and the extension of municipal services.  The Senate failed to concur with the House on this bill and it has gone to a conference committee between the House and Senate.

ACTION ALERT:  There is significant potential for this issue to be caught up with the urban growth area issues in SB 382 Amend Water Supply/Water Quality Laws (see above).  Please CALL your House and Senate members over the weekend to let them know you do not want to see a rewrite of significant legislation in the last few hours of the legislative session, when there is no opportunity for discussion or hearing and hasty decisions are made by a very small group of individuals.  

Contact: Kelli Kukura, 919.889.9040


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Contingency Fee Based Audits Spared--Sort Of

HB 462 Contingency Contracts for Audits/Assessments (McCormick) was approved by the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday, following a long debate and a 20-26 vote to table the bill at the request of Rep. Horn.  The bill in its original form would have completely eliminated the use of contingent fee based audits by city and county governments.  Negotiations were held with bill proponents, and ultimately a compromise was reached to delay the effective date of the bill until July 1, 2013, study the issue of tax audits, and sunset the new legislation effective July 1, 2015.  We expect the House to approve the proposed compromise early next week.

Contact: Paul Meyer, 919.715.3930


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Restoring Local Control Over Billboards Down to the Wire

Efforts to restore elements of local control over billboard sites during the 2012 Short Session are running out of time.  SB 428 Selective Vegetation Amendments/W&S Study (Clodfelter) was referred to the House Rules Committee yesterday, while efforts to compromise with Senate leadership continue.  Please contact Sen. Harry Brown if you would like to see elements of local control returned to city governments in the wake of 2011's overly expansive reform legislation. 

Contact: Paul Meyer, 919.715.3930


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Jordan Lake Rules to See Another Delay

Both chambers voted this week to approve a delay for implementing the new development portion of the Jordan Lake Rules. The delay, now placed into three different bills, HB 953 Environmental Technical Corrections 2012 (Gillespie), SB 229 Amend Environmental Laws 2012 (East), and SB 382 Amend Water Supply/Water Quality Laws (Apodaca), would give local governments subject to the Jordan Lake Rules a two-year extension, until August 2014, to adopt a new development ordinance. This measure garnered lengthy debates in both the House and Senate, with opponents concerned about the introduction of the proposal late in the session as well as effects on the environment that could result from delay.

Read more details in Delay of Runoff Rules Expected to Pass, from The News & Record (Greensboro).

Contact: Erin Wynia, 919.715.4126


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Governor Faces Veto Deadline on Natural Gas Extraction

Governor Bev Perdue faces a deadline Saturday on whether to veto the natural gas extraction proposal passed by the General Assembly last week. Since passage of the bill, the Governor has received thousands of phone calls and email messages urging her veto, and the Governor released a statement Wednesday expressing worries that the bill does not contain enough safeguards for human health and the environment. Rumors at the General Assembly this week peg the Governor as vetoing this measure.

Read Perdue's statement in this WRAL report, and learn about the bill's inclusion of local governments in the rulemaking framework in this past LINC Bulletin item.

Contact: Erin Wynia, 919.715.4126


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Sweepstakes Cafe Tax Bill Dead

HB 1180 Video Sweepstakes Entertainment Tax (Owens) is dead for the legislative session.  After hearings in House Finance committee, it became clear there were still too many questions and concerns about this change in state policy to proceed in the short session.  The core concepts of the bill may very well be carried forward for future consideration, depending on the outcome of an N.C. Supreme Court ruling expected this fall.  Therefore, the League GA team worked to ensure municipalities had the best tax revenue arrangement possible.  The bill was left with municipalities receiving taxes of $1,500 per location and $750 per machine, plus 3 percent of the state tax distributed for public safety needs. 

Our sincere thanks to Rep. Bill Owens for reaching out to the League and listening to our members' needs. 

Contact: Kelli Kukura, 919.889.9040


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Bill to Allow Guns in Greenways Appears Dead

HB 111 Amend Firearms Law (Hilton) appears to be dead, having been left in Senate Commerce Committee.  The bill, which would have allowed concealed carry of handguns in restaurants (if not prohibited by posting), also attempted to clarify language related to concealed carry in "recreational facilities." The legislation would have made it legal to carry concealed handguns in any/all greenways around the state. 

Contact: Kelli Kukura, 919.889.9040


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Relief for Utility Relocation, Ferry Tolls

A budget technical corrections bill would offer financial relief from (1) the unfunded mandate for cities to pay for utility relocations related to NCDOT projects as well as (2) tolls on certain ferry routes. First, the bill would reduce the rate of interest from 8% to prime plus 1% on outstanding balances owed to NCDOT after the completion of the project. Second, if the state budget bill becomes law, then any increases to existing ferry tolls or new ferry tolls would not take effect during the upcoming fiscal year. 

A conference committee on SB 187 Modifications/2012 Appropriations Act has been appointed and is chaired by Sen. Richard Stevens.  Please contact Sen. Stevens to preserve relief from these costs. 

Contact: Paul Meyer, 919.715.3930


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Hydraulic Fracturing Workgroups Receive Extension

This year's Environmental Technical Corrections bill contains a provision added yesterday that would give two hydraulic fracturing local government workgroups an additional nine months to complete their work, should the bill authorizing their creation become law (read about a possible veto of the authorizing bill in this LINC Bulletin item). The local government workgroups, which would examine the issues of local government authority and funding impacts of the natural gas extraction industry, would have until October 1, 2013, to present legislative proposals.

Contact: Erin Wynia, 919.715.4126


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Deal Cut on Federal Transportation Bill?

The U.S. Senate and House appear to have reached an agreement on a federal transportation package and are working toward passage today, Friday.  The Federal highway and transit aid programs and the government's authority to levy federal fuel taxes expire this weekend.  The bill spends over $100 million on federal highway programs over two years but then leaves in limbo how to pay for them after that. The federal gas tax can no longer cover the needs. Experts say the U.S. should be spending about twice as much or more than it does currently.

Contact: Kelli Kukura, 919.889.9040


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Upcoming Events

LINC in For Session Summary Webinar?

Stay tuned for announcement of a Webinar to summarize the 2012 NCGA Short Session, where you will have the chance to ask questions and "discuss" various effects of legislation on your city or town.  The GA team needs to go work out our aggressions and seek therapy, and then we will be ready to report to you!

Contact: Jennifer Webb, 919.715.1726

 

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