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Will You Be Here?

Attend Town Hall Day June 6

You still have time to make plans to wear Green and participate in Town Hall Day Wednesday, June 6. More than ever, we need you in Raleigh at the legislative buildings. Legislators have been asking where you are. Come to Raleigh Wednesday and let your voices be heard. THD attendees will receive green neckties or scarves and blue League badges to wear for the day. On-site registration is available.

Contact: Jennifer Webb, 919.715.1726

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Annexation--Cities, Towns, Local Leaders Assess Next Steps

HB 925, which requires all city-initiated annexations to face a vote of only the registered voters in the potentially annexed area, was passed by a vote of 72-45, ratified and sent to the Governor on Thursday, May 31st.  City and town leaders are in discussion with community and business leaders about next steps regarding the need for balanced growth and actions needed to make wise economic decisions for their communities.  Annexation has been a key tool for economic development for over 50 years.  This legislation will box cities and towns in, causing difficult decisions to be made to ensure future health of our communities.  Click here for a copy of the statement sent earlier by the League. 

Contact: Kelli Kukura, 919.889.9040

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ETJ Threatened--Please Talk with Your Legislators

As reported in last week's Bulletin, HB 1043 ETJ Restrictions (LaRoque, Moffitt) could be scheduled for hearing in committee at any time.  The bill prohibits new extraterritorial jurisdictions (ETJs) in any areas subject to county zoning.  ETJs in areas with county subdivision regulations but without county zoning would require approval of the county commission.  Cities and towns strongly oppose this bill. 

ACTION ALERT:  Language contained in this bill could emerge in another bill at any time during the short session.  PLEASE do not wait--ask your legislator to vote NO on prohibiting ETJs and explain why they are necessary.  Click here for message points to share with your legislators. 

Contact:  Kelli Kukura, 919.889.9040

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Great Progress on Transitional Hold Harmless Extension

A huge thanks to Rep. Julia Howard, former Speaker Harold Brubaker and House members representing the 124 cities currently receiving the transitional hold harmless funds that were set to expire this year.  The hold harmless originated from a 2002 repeal of $333 million in state reimbursements to local governments in exchange for the ability to levy an additional 1/2 percent local sales tax.  The recession forced towns to rely more heavily on these hold harmless funds, because they increase as sales tax revenues decrease.  The League GA team requested a short extension of the hold harmless funding to allow for more manageable transition on behalf of citizens.  Rep. Julia Howard and former Speaker Harold Brubaker supported the effort by adding an amendment for a 2-year extension to HB 142, which passed the House this week.  All except one member of the House voted for the amendment.  If you are one of the towns benefitting, please be sure to thank your House member! Click here to see the actual amendment

ACTION ALERT:  Please contact your Senator this week and ask for support of this amendment in HB 142.

Contact: Kelli Kukura, 919.889.9040

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House Budget Passes

The House passed its version of the state budget (HB 950) on Wednesday.  The House budget makes no changes to the structure of state-collected municipal revenues and makes few changes that affect municipalities.  The appropriation for Powell Bill is slightly lower than the level approved for FY 12-13 in last year's budget, due primarily to lower estimated gas consumption but also to a one-year cap on the gas tax.  The gas tax cap will affect the funds distributed in October 2014 and January 2014 (see more under Transportation update).  The budget also changes the Clean Water Management Trust Fund from a recurring appropriation to one-time funding.  The Fund was cut from $50 million to $11.5 million in last year's budget and this action makes its future insecure.  The Senate intends a very different budget proposal than the House, so rumors sprouted this week of a protracted debate. However, the General Assembly has a very public commitment to a 'brief' short session, still anticipated to wrap up by early July.

Contact: Karl Knapp, 919.715.9768

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Bill Would Remove NCLM from the Local Retirement System

A legislative proposal from Rep. Stephen LaRoque would remove the NC League of Municipalities and NC Association of County Commissioners from the Local Government Retirement System.  HB 1172 Remove League and County Co. from LGERS (LaRoque) strips the two organizations from the eligible employer list under state law.  Rep. LaRoque has been the primary pusher for eliminating city-initiated annexation and the exercise of ETJ authority during the 2011-12 biennium.

Contact: Paul Meyer, 919.715.3930

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Local Governments and the State Health Plan

Two separate bills would authorize the inclusion of units of local government into the State Health Plan.  HB 1211 and SB 911 are both substantially expensive proposals for the State Health Plan.  We expect a fiscal analysis to be run on the proposals this week, which will likely determine their fate during the current Short Session.

Contact: Paul Meyer, 919.715.3930

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House Proposal Increases Costs of City Infrastructure Projects

HB 960 Protect Homeowners with Underwater Mortgages (Moffitt, Brawley, R. Moore) would authorize the inclusion of existing mortgage debt in determining the proper level of just compensation in condemnation cases - including takings of only parts of parcels.  For property owners who are underwater on their mortgage (they owe more than the property is worth), city governments likely would be required to pay more than current fair market value when condemning property to public infrastructure projects.  The bill will be considered on the House floor Monday night. The League opposes the bill in its current form.

Contact:  Paul Meyer, 919.715.3930

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Transportation Issues Moving Along

The House transportation budget remains largely the same as that passed in committee but for a provision added by Rep. Blust to restrict NCDOT to planning for 35 cents of gas tax revenue when they are expected to be collecting 37.5 cents of tax (assuming HB 142 passes this session).   Blust argued that if the General Assembly chooses to lower the cap further to 35 cents next year the NCDOT will not have planned projects that would have to be cancelled.  Please encourage your Senators to remove the Blust amendment from their version of the budget as our State cannot afford to further shrink transportation revenues. 

Senate Finance stripped the language previously in HB 142 this week and replaced it with a gas tax cap at 37.5 cents for one year and delayed the new ferry toll collection plan for a year.  Capping the gas tax at 37.5 cents will cost the state about $60 million in lost revenues which the House and Senate have already built into the budgets they are working on. 

SB 902/HB 1134 DOT To Study Tolls On I-95 was introduced this week.  If passed, the bills will require an economic and traffic study of tolling on I-95 and give the General Assembly veto power over the whole idea. 

SB 888 Ethics Requirements for MPOs/RPOs, which brings MPO/RPO boards under the State Ethics Act, was scheduled for a hearing this week but was set aside for more work on the bill. 

Contact: Julie White, 919.675.1393

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GA Team Working for Better Funding Process for 911 Call Centers

We continue to work toward a more appropriate role for the 911 Board in managing and funding 911 centers across the state.  Following the passage of 2010 legislation which centralized decision making over 911 operations in the State 911 Board, numerous local governments began expressing very legitimate concerns about how these issues were being handled, and advocating for a better process on behalf of their citizens. 

Contact: Paul Meyer, 919.715.3930

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Locals See Very Limited Role in Gas Extraction Proposal

Legislators from both chambers presented a natural gas extraction bill Thursday that would put in place regulations of the industry, all the while severely limiting the input and authority of local governments. The compromise approach replaces the original language in SB 820 Clean Energy and Economic Security Act (Rucho) and gives primary authority to oversee the industry to a new N.C. Mining and Energy Commission. Under the bill, the League would have an opportunity to provide input to this board regarding funding related to industry impacts and other regulations, but the bill would explicitly prohibit local governments from passing further restrictions on the industry, including land use ordinances.

Please let your legislators know that this proposal would mean local communities could do nothing to stop the impacts of this industry on businesses and residential areas and that local governments deserve a larger role.

Contact: Erin Wynia, 919.715.4126

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Upcoming Events

Get Connected on Thursdays?

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