Skip to Main Content

LeagueLINC Bulletin: August 13, 2013 - End of Session Bulletin




^ Back to Top

Committees in Full Swing

Standing committees in both the House and Senate are meeting in earnest and are considering numerous bills impacting cities, both collectively and individually. As items are moving quickly, it is essential that you stay in touch with all members of your local delegation.
^ Back to Top

ACTION ALERT: Contact Representatives On HB 150

HB 150 Zoning/Design & Aesthetic Controls was approved by the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee on Local Government on Wednesday on a split vote. Video of that committee meeting can be viewed here via WRAL. The bill would eliminate cities' ability to impose aesthetic controls over 1- and 2-family dwellings in all zoning districts (with limited exceptions), unless these controls are agreed to by the developer. City of Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Town of Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain, along with League Director of Governmental Affairs Paul Meyer, addressed the committee and explained the harm this would do to local communities. Introduced at the request of the N.C. Homebuilders Association to benefit tract builders, the bill would prevent cities from ensuring that infill development is consistent with the character of existing neighborhoods, which would hurt both economic development efforts and the property values of existing development. The bill now moves to the House floor. Please continue to contact your Representatives and let them know how this legislation will hurt your local community. Contact: Paul Meyer

^ Back to Top

ACTION ALERT: Transitional Hold Harmless Bill Needs Support

Senators Ralph Hise (Mitchell), Warren Daniel (Burke), and Chad Barefoot (Wake) have introduced SB 307 Restore Hold Harmless Sales Tax Funds to provide a partial continuation of Transitional Hold Harmless payments for four years. The bill would provide full payments in 2013, 75 percent payments in 2014, 50 percent in 2015, and 25 percent in 2016. Introduction of a companion bill in the House is expected next week. The League has worked hard to get this legislation introduced, but significant opposition remains, especially in the Senate. The legislation will not advance unless officials from cities and towns that have lost this source of funding secure the support of their legislators for the extension. Extension of the transitional hold harmless payment is a League member advocacy goal for the 2013-14 biennium. Contact: Karl Knapp


^ Back to Top

Senators Raise Concerns Over Criminalization of Public Records Denials

A number of Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed concerns about SB 125 Public Meetings/Records Law Violators during the Senate Judiciary I Committee meeting Tuesday morning. The bill -- which would make any elected or appointed official who denies access to a public record, and any member of a public elected body who violates the Open Meetings Law, guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor -- was up for discussion only and was not voted on. Senators questioned why the bill punished all public records and meetings violations and expressed fears that the bill would in fact delay the production of public records and increase municipalities' cost of complying with requests for records as public employees increasingly work through their attorneys to determine that they are not in violation of the law. Thank you to Senators Tamara Barringer, Harry Brown, Pete Brunstetter, Dan Clodfelter, and Trudy Wade, among others, for raising these and other valid concerns about the bill. The League opposes the bill for the aforementioned reasons, along with the fact that the current law already provides sufficient protections for those who are wrongly denied access to public records and public meetings by entitling them to attorneys' fees. Contact: Paul Meyer 

^ Back to Top

Additional 'Sunshine' Bills Filed

Sen. Thom Goolsby, the sponsor of SB 125 Public Meeting/Records Law Violations (see "Senators Raise Concerns Over Criminalization Of Public Records Denials," above), filed two additional bills this week related to "government transparency." SB 331 Sunshine Amendment would place before voters a constitutional amendment declaring a constitutional right to access to public records and meetings not specifically exempted. The amendment would also require a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly for future exemptions to this provision, making it unnecessarily difficult for future legislators to address specific situations related to public records or public meetings in the future. SB 332 Government Transparency Act would establish as public records general descriptions of promotions, demotions, suspensions, etc., and performance evaluations of public employees. Contact: Paul Meyer
^ Back to Top

Building Inspections Bill Passes House

The House voted in favor of HB 120 -- Building Codes: Local Consistency/Exempt Cable this week. The bill would restrict the building inspections local governments could require to those specifically listed in the N.C. Building Code and extend the Building Code revision cycle from three to six years. The League opposes the bill, in part due to concerns member cities and towns have raised regarding the need for local discretion to require inspections that may be necessary and appropriate for local jurisdictions. The bill does allow cities to bring their request for additional inspections before the N.C. Building Code Council for approval, but no standards exist for the level of consideration the Council must give these requests and there is no definition of the "timely manner" in which those requests must be considered by the Building Code Council. HB 120 now heads to the Senate for consideration. Contact: Chris Nida

^ Back to Top

Bills Targeting Asheville Authority Advance

The House Government Committee voted Thursday to approve two bills limiting the City of Asheville’s local authority. HB 224 Asheville Extraterritorial Jurisdiction and Annexation would transfer control of the city's extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) to Buncombe County and impose a 12-year moratorium on city-initiated annexations. Although a previous version of the bill prohibited all annexations, the version passed by the committee Thursday does not bar voluntary annexations. The second bill considered by the committee, HB 252 Asheville Transfers, eliminates the City’s current authority to use up to five percent of water utility revenues for sidewalk and street repair associated with water line improvements. Rep. Tim Moffitt (R-Buncombe) sponsored both bills, but support of the local legislative delegation remains divided. Both bills now move to the House Finance Committee. Another bill sponsored by Rep. Moffitt, HB 264 Justice for Rural Citizens Act, would eliminate ETJ authority statewide. That bill has not yet been heard by any committees. Contact: Erin Wynia
^ Back to Top

Senate Votes To Transfer Charlotte Airport Ownership

The Senate on Wednesday gave its final approval to SB 81 Charlotte Regional Airport Authority, which would transfer ownership of Charlotte Douglas International Airport from the City of Charlotte to a newly-established Charlotte Regional Airport Authority. Several Senators asked their colleagues to delay approval of the bill, but their pleas went unheeded. The bill sponsor, Sen. Bob Rucho, presented a letter from out-of-state bond counsel stating that the transfer of ownership would not cause any issues for the $800 million in outstanding debt held by the airport, but some legislators remained concerned that the State Treasurer had not yet weighed in on the issue. The bill now heads to the House, where it does not appear likely to receive approval as quickly as it did in the Senate. The League opposes the bill. Contact: Paul Meyer

^ Back to Top

LAC Members Back In Raleigh

Following on the heels of last week's visits, members of the League's Tax & Finance Legislative Action Committee (LAC) were in Raleigh this week meeting with Representatives and Senators. Legislators have repeatedly stressed the need for a continued municipal presence in the legislature, and these visits are part of our efforts to establish that presence. LAC members discussed a number of issues during their meetings, with special attention paid to issues like tax reform and the extension of the transitional hold harmless payments that fall under the committee's purview. Thank you to the legislators who took the time to visit with our municipal officials, and to the LAC members who took time out of their schedules to be in Raleigh. Contact: Chris Nida
^ Back to Top

DMV Block For Unpaid Parking Tickets Considered

Legislators are considering introducing a bill that would require the DMV to place a block on a motor vehicle's registration if that vehicle has unpaid municipal parking citations associated with it. The bill would provide cities and towns with a much-needed enforcement tool for collecting unpaid parking tickets, which can total millions of dollars in cities across the state. If this bill would benefit your city or town please let your Senator know, and contact the League and let us know how much money your jurisdiction has in outstanding parking citations. S 227 Treat Certain Items as Municipal Taxes has been filed and is a local bill that would apply these provisions to the City of Greensboro. Contact: Chris Nida
^ Back to Top

Local Bidder Bill Would Achieve League Advocacy Goal

HB 284 Local Contracts/Local Bidder Preference would allow local governments to award contracts to local bidders if the local bidder entered a bid within 5 percent or $10,000 -- whichever is less -- of the low bidder, and was willing to match the low bid. Rather than allow a municipality to set the boundaries of its preference area, the bill requires that bidders have their principal place of business within the municipal limits in order to be considered local. This bill addresses a League member advocacy goal of being able to award contracts to local bidders for goods and materials purchases, but it extends the option to construction contracts as well. Contact: Karl Knapp
^ Back to Top

Coastal Towns Could Enforce Ordinances on Beach

HB 300 Cities/Public Trust Rights would clarify the authority of coastal towns to enforce ordinances on the beach, or lands held by the state in the "public trust." The bill comes in response to litigation in which the N.C. Court of Appeals issued a decision ruling that the Town of Nags Head could not condemn a house which sat in the middle of the beach, creating a public safety hazard for visitors. For more on this case and other relevant coastal town litigation see here. The proposal provides that towns have the ability to enforce ordinances on the beach, including nuisance abatement. Contact: Jordan Smith


^ Back to Top

Only Days Left To Register For Town Hall Day!

Town Hall Day, the League's annual advocacy day for cities and towns, will be here in less than two weeks -- March 27 -- and advance registration closes on Wednesday, March 20. If you haven't registered yet, do so now! On-site registration will be available after Wednesday, but registering in advance is the best way to confirm your place among the hundreds of city officials who will be in Raleigh on that Wednesday. Your presence is needed to help demonstrate to legislators how much the decisions they are making impact your community. See you then!