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Cities and Towns Deeply Disappointed in Senate Annexation Votes; Economic Development Hurt

City-initiated annexation has been severely harmed by the North Carolina Senate this week. Community and business leaders and individual citizens across the state have been expressing deep concern about the ability of cities and towns to grow and remain the economic centers of our North Carolina communities if this legislation passes. 

Language in a bill enacted last year required property owners of at least 60% of the parcels to sign a petition to stop an annexation.  That language was struck down by a Wake County Superior Court judge, who ruled it violated both the federal Voting Rights Act and the NC constitutional prohibition on linking voting qualifications to property ownership.  A simple change to a petition signed by registered voters would have addressed this problem.  However, Senator Buck Newton (R-Nash) -- in response to a local Rocky Mount annexation issue -- stripped an existing bill that had already passed the House, HB 925 (Moffitt).  HB 925 now changes the annexation process to a referendum vote (during the municipal election) of the annexation area.  A simple majority of all registered voters who actually vote in the referendum would likely kill any proposed annexation, and therefore stop balanced growth of the city. 

North Carolina cities and towns have been held up nationally as vibrant, attractive urban areas that operate as the economic engines of this state.  Limiting their growth hurts economic development, jobs and quality of life for ALL NC residents, whether in or near the city or town. 

The Senate also took up HB 5, also led by Senator Newton, that targets specific communities for deannexation.  HB 5 deannexes legal, in-process or completed annexations in Lexington, Rocky Mount, Southport, Fayetteville, Asheville, Marvin, Wilmington, Kinston, and Goldsboro.  In addition, lawmakers added a provision that, if successful, would prohibit any annexation attempt of those areas for twelve years.  See here for media coverage of these pieces of legislation.

Although debated, both bills received favorable committee approval on Wednesday and passed 2nd reading in the Senate on Thursday.  The bills will face third and final Senate approval on Monday, May 21.  The bills then go to the House for a concurrence vote on the floor only, since both bills have already passed the House (even though the original language was stripped and replaced). 

ACTION NEEDED: 

1. Please call Senators Clodfelter, Kinnaird, MansfieldMcKissick, Nesbitt, PurcellRobinson, and Stein TODAY and THANK THEM for standing up and arguing eloquently against these damaging actions.  They explained that killing annexation hurts citizens, economic development and creates an impossible 'one size fits all' approach. 

2.  Click on bill numbers here to see how your Senator voted on HB 925 and HB 5 and call them to discuss before Monday! Give them examples of the patchwork created around our communities and the harm to growth. 

3.  Call your House members before Tuesday! Tell them this is not the answer.  Give them examples of the problems created.  Ask them to ensure House leaders AT LEAST meet with the League of Municipalities to give cities and towns a fair chance to work toward a reasonable resolution. 

4.  BRING 5 to Raleigh on Tuesday or Wednesday. Let us know you are coming. The legislative halls are filled with 'red shirts' but it is YOUR citizens and YOUR businesses that will be hurt.  BRING THEM SO THEIR VOICES ARE HEARD. 

Contact:  Kelli Kukura, 919.889.9040


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State Budget Process Extended By One Week

The House Appropriations Committee will not approve the FY 12-13 budget next week as originally planned.  Budget writers want House members to have sufficient time to review the committee's proposals, and they have extended by one week the time that subcommittees have to prepare their reports.  While it is not yet clear what will be in the budget, Republican leaders have said that the Governor's proposed sales tax increase for education will not be part of it.  The budget also will need to include measures to close a gap in Medicaid funding that developed this year and was closed for FY 11-12 using one-time excess revenues and unspent funds in other areas.  We continue to appreciate the House and Senate leadership's commitment to not pass down State budget problems onto struggling municipalities. 

Contact: Karl Knapp, 919.715.9768


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Gas Tax Cap In Play

A potential gas tax cap is again being debated.  Gov. Perdue and the House Transportation Committee leadership have both endorsed a one year gas tax cap at 37.5 cents per gallon, which reduces transportation revenues by approximately $68 million and will result in transportation budget cuts -- likely to public transit systems.  Senator Rabon (Transportation Co-Chair) publicly opposes the cap, and he is fighting hard to prevent its passage.  Please send him a note or call to thank him for his courage and resolve on this important issues for cities and towns.  

Contact: Paul Meyer, 919.413.2901


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Controversial Design Controls Bill Eligible

SB 731 (Zoning/Design and Aesthetic Controls) is eligible this session, having been approved by the Senate last year.  The bill is a number one priority of the NC Homebuilders Association and is a highly complicated and contentious piece of legislation.  In a nutshell, the bill eliminates the ability of cities to place conditions on development projects related to design and aesthetics.  Please continue meeting with your House members, and ask them not to consider this overreaching controversial bill during this very short session.

Contact: Paul Meyer, 919.413.2901


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Natural Gas Extraction Proposal Officially Introduced

Following up on promises to implement a path toward legalizing natural gas extraction in North Carolina, legislators approved recommendations (pg. 37) to establish the N.C. Oil and Gas Board, an entity that would write the regulations governing the industry. Recognizing that these recommendations will generate the most high-profile environmental issue of the session, legislators will soon introduce twin bills in the House and Senate containing the recommendations. The League will advocate for local government involvement in decisions regarding the division of authority and revenues between state and local entities.

Contact: Erin Wynia, 919.715.4126.


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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. Please invite your fab five to be your guest at Town Hall Day June 6. We want legislators to recognize that we stand together with our community leaders in support of our hometowns.  THD attendees will be receiving green neckties or scarves and "blue tattoos" (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.

"Bring 5" on Tuesdays & Wednesdays This Session

Gather your hometown municipal officials, civic leaders and residents and come to Raleigh Tuesday or Wednesday. Legislators need to hear from you now. They need to see you in the hallways and the galleries. Let us know you're coming and we'll plan your schedule for the day. The "red shirts" are in town -- are you?

LINC in THURSDAYS are on the Web

LINC in THURSDAY weekly legislative updates are Webinars this year!  Get connected each Thursday afternoon at 3 o'clock for this short and to the point legislative update.  Be sure to RSVP before the 3 o'clock start time!

Upcoming Event Contact: Jennifer Webb, 919.715.1726

 

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