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Voters Go To Polls In Primaries

Nearly 35 percent of North Carolina's registered voters voted in Tuesday's primary election, with that number likely to creep slightly higher as mail-in absentee ballots continue to be counted. Overall, more people voted in this year's primary than did so in 2008, but the rate was slightly lower than in 2008 due to the increase in registered voters over the last four years.

In the presidential primary, N.C. voters voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Congressional races around the state were particularly competitive, as many Republicans looked to take advantage of newly drawn districts. U.S. House Districts 8 and 9 appear headed to run-offs on the Republican side, while in U.S. House District 7, State Senator David Rouzer defeated Ilario Pantano by a 48-45 margin. Rouzer will now face incumbent Democrat Mike McIntyre. See here for a full listing of the results of North Carolina's Congressional elections.

At the state level, voters set up a governor's race between former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory (R-Mecklenburg) and current lieutenant governor Walter Dalton (D-Rutherford). Former Director of State Personnel Linda Coleman (D-Wake) will be the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, while the Republican nominee is likely to be determined in a runoff election between Dan Forest (R-Wake) and Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley (R-Wake). That is one of what could potentially be 13 run-off elections held on July 17 for state-level races in which no candidate received at least 40 percent of the votes. A full listing of those potential run-off elections can be found here.

Voters across the state also decided primaries for a number of General Assembly seats. Many of the primaries decided the outcome of the election, as no candidate filed to face the primary winner in the general election. A list of non-incumbent primary winners who will not face a general election opponent can be found here. Pending the results of run-off elections, these individuals will serve in the General Assembly beginning with the 2013 long session. If your municipality is in any of the districts these individuals will be representing, please reach out to them now and begin building your relationship with them so you can let them know of the important role cities and towns play in their district.

Conversely, several current legislators will not be returning in 2013. Among them is Representative Jim Crawford (D-Granville), who was redistricted into a district with fellow Representative Winkie Wilkins (D-Person) and was targeted by outside groups for his vote to override the Governor's veto of the budget during the long session. Other sitting legislators who lost their primary races include Efton Sager (R-Wayne), who was bested by fellow Representative Jimmy Dixon (R-Duplin); Representative Stephen LaRoque (R-Lenoir), who trails by a few dozen votes and has indicated he will request a recount; and Representative Larry Brown (R-Forsyth).

Contact: Chris Nida, 919.715.3945


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Are You Ready?

The time is now to make plans to fully engage for the legislative short session.  Mark your calendars to participate in weekly "LINC in Thursday" 3 o'clock legislative updates starting Thursday, May 17.  These calls are short and to the point with legislative highlights of the week and weekend assignments to reach out to legislators.  Call information will be shared on Tuesdays.  While you're preparing to engage in session, please take a few minutes to update your grassroots relationships in LeagueLINC.  It's as simple as signing in with your email address and password: NCLeague, then choosing update grassroots relationships

Contact:  Jennifer Webb, 919.715.1726


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Governor Releases Budget Proposals

Governor Perdue released her proposal for adjusting the FY 12-13 budget on May 10.  While her plan to boost education funding through a sales tax increase is unlikely to receive consideration by the General Assembly, her proposal to cap the gas tax at 37.5 cents per gallon is expected to gain support.  The combination of the gas tax cap and an expected decline in gas consumption would reduce Powell Bill funding by $2.8 million below the level previously budgeted for allocation during FY 13-14.  In positive news, the Governor's proposal recommends adding $15 million in economic development grants for local governments and $5 million in water and sewer grant funding. 

Contact: Karl Knapp, 919.715.9768


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Sweepstakes Cafe Debates Continue in Courts

Last week, a three-judge North Carolina Appeals Court panel ruled in favor of three sweepstakes cafe owners in Fayeteville (dismissing eleven other cafe owners), saying that their evidence that the city's privilege license tax would put them out of business should have been considered in Superior Court against the city's evidence of law enforcement expense to determine if the tax was reasonable.  In March, a three-judge panel ruled 2-to-1 to throw out the 2010 sweepstakes law that banned sweepstakes machines.  That case is now before the state Supreme Court. In another case, the North Carolina Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of Lumberton and its authority to levy privilege license taxes on sweepstakes cafes.  Meanwhile, Henderson County, for one, has expressed interest in pushing legislation this session that would provide counties with the same authority municipalities have to tax sweepstakes cafes.                                         

Contact:  Kelli Kukura, 919.889.9040.


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Rental Registration Programs and the General Assembly

The General Assembly passed legislation in 2011 curtailing the ability of city governments to regulate bad landlords and their tenants.  Confusing law resulted in which local government fee schedules were reduced and enforcement powers were restricted. The GA team is requesting some productive conversations with stakeholders as we all work toward ensuring safe homes and neighborhoods. We expect to see newly proposed legislation to further restrict the ability of local governments in this area in the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

Contact: Paul Meyer, 919.715.3930


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The Great Unknown: Bona Fide Farms in ETJ

During the 2011 Session of the General Assembly, legislation was passed allowing "bona fide farm operators" in the ETJ to be exempt from zoning by city governments.  County governments were already unable to zone bona fide farm operations.  At the time, the League GA team fought, with very limited success, for a true definition of "bona-fide farm".  Lacking any valid regulatory processes to follow and facing a very vague definition of what a "bona fide farm" is, surrounding landowners in many local communities now find themselves at odds with neighboring bona fide farm landowners who are using their land in ways that are not very "neighborly," hiding behind the flag of a "bona fide farm."  The NC Department of Agriculture is receiving these calls, and we expect conflicts between neighbors to continue.

Contact: Paul Meyer, 919.715.3930


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Federal Update

Congress Continues Work on Transportation, Budget

U.S. Senate and House conferees, appointed after the U.S. House passed another 90-day transportation funding extension (taking the extension to October), seem to agree that a long-term transportation bill is critical.  Senior Democrats backing a Keystone XL pipeline, the source of much of the debate, have indicated they won't let the pipeline debate stop an agreement on an overall transportation funding solution.  Regarding the federal budget, the U.S. House and Senate are currently very far apart on approaches to the FY 2013 budget bill.  However, Senate leaders in both parties have been united in approving an overall spending level of $1.047 trillion. 

Contact: Kelli Kukura, 919.889.9040.


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How Speedy Are You?

Looking for a way to participate in the legislative process from your hometown?  Quick Connect Teams are a key component of the LeagueLINC grassroots success.  These teams act as first responders when the need arises for quick perspective on the "real-world" impact of issues.  QCT members will typically receive an email with details on pending legislation along with a request to respond within 24 hours.  If you are interested in participating in a QCT, email Jennifer Webb to sign up.  Indicate which QCT issue you have unique expertise in:  Annexation, Budget/Finance/Tax Issues, General Government, Land Use/Planning & Zoning, Local Government Personnel, Public Safety, Transportation, or Water/Wastewater. 

Contact: Jennifer Webb, 919.715.1726


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Upcoming Events

"Bring 5" on Tuesday & Wednesdays This Session

Gather your hometown municipal officials, civic leaders and residents and make plans to come to Raleigh with your "Bring 5" group.  Legislators need to hear from your during the session.  Simply choose a Tuesday or Wednesday between May 22 and June 20 and contact Jennifer Webb.  She'll set your legislative agenda for the day and you'll be on your way.

"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.  We want legislators to recognize that we stand together in support of our hometowns so attendees will be receiving green neckties or scarves and "blue tattoo" (badges) to wear for the day. So leave your necktie at home and Register today to 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 edit your grassroots relationships, indicating legislators you already know. Short session will move swiftly and we need to be ready. Join today!

Upcoming Event Contact: Jennifer Webb, 919.715.1726

 

 

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