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VOTE Tuesday, May 8!

Tuesday, May 8 is Primary Election Day in North Carolina.  Get involved.  Make a difference by choosing who will represent you and your community.  Take the first step, when you VOTE MAY 8. Get more information on the candidates and voting locations.
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2012 NCGA Short Session Begins May 16

The 2012 Short Session is expected to last about six weeks and move very quickly.  While the official rule is for the General Assembly to avoid any "controversial" matters, it appears that will be nearly impossible.  Hot topics will include the state budget, a likely gas tax cap, annexation issues, education, and health care. Click here for a listing of 2011 bills eligible in the 2012 Short Session.  Click here for information about bill filing deadlines, including local bills, which are due to bill drafting by May 23 and must be filed by May 30.

ACTION ALERT: In addition to your plans to BRING 5 for Town Hall Day on June 6, please MAKE PLANS NOW to closely follow our ACTION ALERTS and reach out to your legislators on key issues!

NCLM Members: Mark your calendars now for our weekly LINC In Thursday Conference Calls every Thursday during session at 3:00 p.m.  Stay tuned for details. 

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2012 Short Session Advocacy Goals are Set

NCLM's Legislative Action Committees and Board of Directors have been working hard, making timely adjustments to the 2011-12 NCLM Advocacy Goals package.  The Governmental Affairs Team will work on a number of hot items during the 2012 Short Session on behalf of cities and towns, including advocating for a long-term transportation funding solution in lieu of a cap on the state's gas tax; ensuring adequate 911 call center funding; extending the transitional hold harmless payments; and addressing a lingering problem regarding local community desires related to local tree ordinances and replanting around billboards. 

And starting June 1, please submit advocacy goal ideas for the 2013-2014 Advocacy Goals Conference, to be held January 24, 2013 in Raleigh!

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State Budget Process Begins

The General Assembly will begin the FY 12-13 budget process with good news. State revenue collections for FY 11-12 are expected to be $233 million above budget. Don't expect additional spending to result, however, because the excess revenue will be used to cover a Medicaid shortfall that will continue into next year. The House Appropriations Committee has instructed its subcommittee chairs that no spending increases should be included in their reports. Subcommittees are already at work and the House budget bill will be considered by the full committee during the first week of the 2012 session. The Transportation Subcommittee reviewed a draft report this week that includes cuts to public transportation funds and a gas tax cap that would produce a reduction to Powell Bill funds of less than 1 percent.
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Annexation: Can NC Have a Law Good for ALL Citizens?

In March, the Wake County Superior Court declared Session Laws 2011-173 and 177 -- laws applying the veto petition from the newly enacted annexation reform law to active annexation processes in Rocky Mount, Wilmington, Kinston, Fayetteville, and Lexington, and retroactively to previously annexed areas in Goldsboro, and portions of the overall HB 845 annexation reform bill (S.L. 2011-396) -- unconstitutional under provisions of the NC Constitution.  One of the key problems revolves around the law requiring that "property owners" instead of "registered voters" have final 'veto power' by petition.  The League GA team has been advocating for discussion among all stakeholders that would allow for a reasonable, fair solution -- one that would not do long-term damage to our North Carolina cities and communities, and ultimately hurt the state's economy.  The GA team expects bills to deannex or suspend annexations in the communities listed above to be run the first week of session, even though the state has appealed the court ruling and the issue is active in the judicial process. 

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ETJ Authority Under Attack

The House Select Committee on Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) approved draft legislation which would dramatically restrict the expansion of ETJs, along with a list of "Additional Suggestions" for the General Assembly to consider in reforming the ETJ law.  While the proposed bill will restrict only future ETJ expansions, the suggestions list contemplates a complete transfer of existing ETJ jurisdiction to county government.  We remain very concerned the proposed bill will become the seed for new efforts to restrict the ability of cities to appropriately manage land use in and around the town limits.

ACTION ALERT:  Click here for an issue paper on ETJ.  Talk with your legislators about the importance of ETJ to both ETJ residents and balanced growth and planning.

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Natural Gas Extraction Competing Proposals

With the release of the final report on natural gas extraction by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), legislative leaders in the House and Senate have offered competing proposals to legalize the industry in North Carolina. The Senate proposal (pg. 37), advanced by Sen. Bob Rucho, would fast-track development of necessary regulations by July 2014 but would also take away all local authority to control aspects of this industrial activity. The House proposal, offered by Rep. Mitch Gillespie, is expected to provide for development of regulations with a year of local government input built into the process. These proposals will likely feature intense negotiations throughout the Short Session, and the League will continue to advocate for appropriate local government authority over this new industrial activity. Click here for the DENR press release on its natural gas extraction report.

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The Look of Your Town is a Local Decision -- Oppose SB 731

A leftover from the 2011 session, SB 731 ("Zoning/Design and Aesthetic Controls") would significantly harm the ability of cities to impose conditions on proposed development projects.  Oftentimes, conditions are added to development projects to make the project more compatible with existing neighborhoods and properties, helping developers gather necessary support for the project locally.  Proponents argue these conditions drive the cost of development up unnecessarily.  The League opposes the bill and is working to protect the authority of locally elected city officials to determine the look and feel of local communities.  The bill is eligible this session and sits in the House Commerce and Jobs Development Committee. 

ACTION ALERT: Click here for an issue paper on this bill and talk with your legislators.

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Legislative Report On Asheville Water Sets Bad Precedent

The Metropolitan Sewerage/Water System Committee has recommended that legislation be considered in 2013 which would mandate the merger of Asheville's water system with the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County.  The committee report states that if the governments develop their own plan, "due consideration would be given."  The League of Municipalities opposes this proposal and delivered this letter to the committee and Speaker Thom Tillis. 
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Eminent Domain Bill is Alive in Senate

HB 8 -- Eminent Domain, which passed the House in the long session and remains alive in the Senate Judiciary Committee, is being considered for a vote in the Short Session.  The GA team worked with the bill's sponsor, Rep. "Skip" Stam, in 2011 to lessen the negative effects of the legislation on economic development.  The bill currently states, "Private property shall not be taken by eminent domain except for a public use.  Just compensation shall be paid, and shall be determined by a jury at the request of any party." Concerns about utility customer connections have been expressed, and bill language is still in development. 
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Quick Connect Teams Are Forming!

Quick Connect Teams (QCTs) are an integral tool used mostly during legislative sessions. These teams act as first responders when the need arises for quick perspective on the "real-world" impact of issues. If you are interested in participating in a QCT please email Jennifer Webb for more information. QCT are being established for the following subject areas: Annexation, Budget/Finance/Tax Issues, General Government, Land Use/Planning & Zoning, Local Government Personnel, Public Safety, Transportation, and Water/Wastewater.
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Upcoming Events

"Bring 5" to TOWN HALL DAY!! JUNE 6, 2012

Make plans today to attend Town Hall Day Wednesday, June 6 and "Bring 5" of your community's business or civic leaders along for the day. It's no secret there are leaders of your community that believe in excellent and efficient local government. Please invite them to be your guest at Town Hall Day June 6 so legislators can see that we stand together in support of our hometowns. Register today and receive discount registration fees for your "Bring 5" guests.

There's Just Enough Time

Join LeagueLINC before the 2012 session of the General Assembly convenes Wednesday, May 16. Once you have signed in to LeagueLINC (with your email address and password: NCLeague), please take a few moments to edit your grassroots relationships, indicating legislators you already know. Short session will move swiftly and we need to be ready. Join today!