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What a Difference a (District) Day Makes

Our thanks to the strong contingent of municipal officials from Conover, Emerald Isle, Huntersville, Matthews, Mooresville and Newton for your time and work in making the inaugural District Days! event a terrific success. Keeping city issues at the forefront of legislators' minds is crucial this session and you were able to engage House and Senate leadership and a number of key legislators in a very honest conversation about tax reform, hold harmless, the potential impacts of addressing local issues with statewide bills and more.  Don't miss your District Days! ~ see the schedule at the end of this LeagueLINC Bulletin to RSVP. 
Contact:  Jennifer Webb
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READ: Bill to Forcibly Regionalize Asheville Water System Moves

HB 488 Regionalization of Public Utilities was approved on second reading by the House on Thursday, after a long discussion in the House Finance Committee on Tuesday about whether the bill would require the forced regionalization of municipal water systems statewide. The bill sponsors have been adamant that the bill only applies to the City of Asheville, even though it is written as a statewide bill.  An important amendment was added to the bill on the House Floor by Rep. Stam to further restrict the application of the bill to Asheville only. We encourage all cities and towns who operate a public water system to consult with your city attorney to be sure the bill in its current form does not require a forced regionalization of your water system. Please contact us immediately if it does, as the bill is before the House for a final vote on Monday night. The League opposes the bill, as the legislature is asserting itself into decisions which are best left in the hands of locally elected officials and boards. Contact: Paul Meyer

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Local Efforts Influence Tax Reform Debate

Tax reform continued to be a topic of conversation in the General Assembly this week and there are more signs that efforts by League members are affecting the debate. The Senate Finance Committee continued to review bills that contain pieces of what likely will be the Senate tax reform package. Although the bill reviewed this week (SB 677 Corporate Income Tax Reduction & Reform) affected only corporate income taxes, Senator Austin Allran (R-Catawba) took the opportunity to ask the bill sponsor, Senator Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg), whether the final Senate reform package would protect cities from a loss of revenue. Senator Rucho indicated that he had been working for some time to craft measures that would take care of cities in the final reform package. Our discussions with members of the House indicate that they have a different appetite for tax reform from their Senate colleagues, but that they are attuned to the concerns expressed by local governments about the effects of tax reform and want to see them addressed in any reform legislation. Contact: Karl Knapp
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Bill Damaging Rental Inspection Programs Introduced Yet Again

Despite a significant overhaul of the statutes controlling the authority of cities and counties to operate rental inspection programs during the 2011 session of the General Assembly, HB 773 Local Gov'ts/Bldgs/Structures/Inspections has been introduced to further limit these important programs by Reps. W. Brawley, Moffitt, Hardister, and Brisson. In this proposed iteration, required landlord registrations would be eliminated, fees paid by landlords to support the programs are eliminated, and the reach of program enforcement mechanisms is reduced. Cities oppose this legislation, due to its detrimental impact on the ability of cities to assist in protecting law-abiding city residents and improve quality of life within communities. Contact: Paul Meyer

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'Property Owners Protection Act' Returns

Reps. Bill Brawley and Tim Moffitt are co-sponsors of another bill targeting the authority of local governments. HB 632 Property Owners Protection Act was also introduced in 2011 but did not receive a vote. The bill would establish a "free use of land policy" in which local government rules, regulations and ordinances would be strictly construed in favor of the landowner. It would also require local governments to pay property owners' attorneys' fees in any case in which the property owner successfully challenges a local government decision, and it would prevent local governments from holding property owners responsible for violations on their land that were not committed by the property owner (for example, a situation involving a contractor). The bill would create a host of problems and is in direct opposition to the League's Core Municipal Principles regarding municipal authority. The League opposes the legislation. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Deannexation and ETJ Elimination Bills Approved

The House Government Committee this week approved and then referred deannexation bills to the House Finance CommitteeHB 409 Shelby Deannexation and HB 260 Salisbury/Deannex Rowan Cty Airport Property were heard on Thursday, and HB 260 was vigorously fought by members of the Salisbury City Council.  At the same meeting, HB 531 Weaverville ETJ was also approved. Like another bill impacting the City of Asheville, HB 531 eliminates the ETJ authority of Weaverville. Contact: Paul Meyer

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Bills Reflect Tensions Between Urban, Rural Land Uses

A pair of bills filed this week would further restrict the tools cities currently employ to address the tensions between urban and rural land uses. The first, HB 841 Urban Farms/Zoning Laws Exclusion, would restrict a city from imposing land use controls on any property classified as a "bona fide farm" within a city's corporate limits, unless such controls were required by a compelling public health, safety, or environmental protection interest. And the second, HB 787 Protect Rural Land Use Rights, would classify governmental entities as "condemnors" if they passed a law that had the effect of limiting land uses such as bona fide farms in order to address regional environmental concerns; affected landowners would be given the right to seek compensation against those governmental entities. Contact: Erin Wynia

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HB 659 Would Apply Ethics Provisions to Local Government Officials

HB 659 County and City Ethics would apply ethics requirements previously applicable only to those holding statewide office to members of local government governing boards as well. Among those requirements would be an annual filing of a statement of economic interest. The bill has been assigned to the House Government Committee. Contact: Chris Nida
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MPO Ethics Bill Advances

A bill limiting ethics requirements for Metropolitan and Rural Transportation Planning Organizations to the voting members of those organizations was approved by the Senate this week. SB 411 Ethics Requirements for MPOs/RPOs fixes an issue with the previous law that applied these ethics requirements to a much broader set of individuals associated with MPOs and RPOs. The League has been working to amend that 2012 law and thanks SB 411 sponsors Sens. Kathy Harrington and Bill Rabon for their assistance. SB 411 now heads to the House. Contact: Paul Meyer

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Multiple Bills Address Electronic Notices

In contrast to the trend of bills permitting electronic publication of legally required notices in lieu of print publication requirements -- an authority supported by League members and chosen as one of their advocacy goals for the 2013-14 biennium -- legislators filed a bill this week that would merely offer electronic notice as an additional publication method along with print publication requirements. The League opposes this bill, HB 723 Legal Notices/Require Internet Publication. However, the League supports the numerous other electronic notice bills filed in both chambers this session, including one filed this week, HB 755 DENR Electronic Notice, which would allow the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to publish its required notices online. In addition, the Senate State & Local Government Committee will give a second hearing Tuesday to SB 287 Notice Publication by Some Local Governments, a local bill that would allow Greensboro, High Point, Morrisville, and Guilford County to publish legally required public notices ongovernment websites, rather than paying for print publication. Contact: Erin Wynia

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Bipartisan Bill Would Make Personnel Records Public

A House bill with a bipartisan set of sponsors would make personnel records related to hiring, firing, promotions, demotions and the like, along with performance evaluations, public records. HB 837 Government Transparency Act applies to both state and local governments and would require the government to pay reasonable attorneys' fees in any case in which it is found to have violated the public records law. HB 837 has been assigned to the House Committee on State Personnel. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Proposal Further Modifies Jordan Lake Rules

Two Triad legislators introduced HB 515 Nutrient Management Standards Reform Act, a bill that would further modify the Jordan Lake Rules. These water quality rules, the first of their kind in the state, were implemented by the legislature in 2009 and have been subject to legislative revision every year since then. At the request of numerous cities and towns affected by the nutrient management strategy, this bill would make changes to certain stormwater-related provisions of the rules. Contact: Erin Wynia
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Bill Authorizes Study of State's Water/Sewer Service Provider Structures

A second bill to study the legal structures under which water and sewer service is provided in the state was filed this week in the House. HB 814 Study Water & Sewer Service Districts is nearly identical to a bipartisan Senate bill filed earlier this session, SB 330 Study Water and Sewer Providers. Both bills would direct an interim legislative study of various models under which water and sewer is provided in the state, investigating the operations and financing of each type of model. The bill would authorize this study to make recommendations for reducing or consolidating such models of service provision. The models to be studied include: sanitary districts, water and sewer authorities, metropolitan water districts, metropolitan sewerage districts, county water and sewer districts, and any other similar organizations. Contact: Erin Wynia

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Mopeds Bill To Be Heard Again Next Week

A bill that would require the owners of mopeds to register their vehicles and carry insurance on them was heard but not voted on in the House Transportation Committee this week. HB 48 Operation of Mopeds would achieve one of the advocacy goals chosen by League members. After some discussion, HB 48 was not voted on by the committee this week, and it is currently on the House Transportation Committee schedule for next Tuesday. Contact: Chris Nida
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Transportation Cost-Sharing Pilot Program Created By Proposed Bill

HB 785 Cost-Sharing/Transportation Improvements, introduced this week, would authorize the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to create a statewide pilot program for cost-sharing on transportation improvements. The bill calls for a program in which NCDOT would run the program and "create a fair share allocation formula" that would determine the value of transportation improvements and apportion the costs among applicable parties, including cities, the NCDOT, counties, and private developers. The NCDOT would have to issue a report on this pilot program by 2021. Contact: Chris Nida

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Regulatory Reform Would Achieve Priority NCLM Goal

As one of this session's regulatory reform proposals, HB 892 No Fiscal Note for Rule Repeal would achieve one of the League's priority regulatory reform goals. The bill eases the process for repeal of unnecessary, unduly burdensome, or inconsistent rules by not requiring a fiscal note when such rules are repealed. Such repeal is required under recent reforms to the state's administrative procedure process. Contact: Erin Wynia
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Military Base Land Use Bills Advance

Two bills affecting local zoning and land use practices around military bases were approved by the House this week. The first bill, HB 433 Land Use Surrounding Military Installations, was amended in committee so that local approval for structures more than 200 feet high within five miles of a major military installation would require prior approval from the State Construction Office, rather than the N.C. Building Code Council. The second bill, HB 254 Zoning Changes/Notice to Military Bases, which requires local governments to provide written notice to the commander of a military base before making certain land use changes to any area within five miles of the base, was approved without any changes. Contact: Sarah Collins
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Site Preparation Tax Deferral Bill Approved by House

The House on Thursday approved HB 439 Economic Development Jobsites Program, which would establish a property tax deferral for 100+ acre tracts of vacant land that have been receiving the use value tax deferral but are being developed for use as an industrial or commercial site. The deferral would apply to the value of any improvements to the site and the difference in land value between market and use value. If the amount invested in improvements to the land is not equal to the amount deferred over the first five years, the taxes are then due. The deferral would expire after ten years, or when buildings are constructed or the land is transferred, whichever is sooner.  Contact: Karl Knapp
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What's Your District - District Days! 2013

District Days! has gotten off to a terrific start this week.  Make plans to get involved and keep the momentum humming.  Check the schedule below and RSVP for your District Days! 

District Days! Schedule

  • Wednesday, April 24 - NCLM District 9
  • Wednesday, May 1 - NCLM Districts 1, 2 and 3
  • Wednesday, May 15 - NCLM Districts 4 and 5
  • Tuesday, May 21 - NCLM Districts 6 and 7
  • Tuesday, June 4 - NCLM Districts 10, 11 and 12

Contact: Jennifer Webb; 919.715.1726