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A Good Week

This morning, the League Governmental Affairs Team was reflecting on the good things which have happened for cities and towns in the General Assembly over the past week, and it became readily apparent that much of this success is due to your hard work back home, talking with General Assembly members, and developing the types of relationships which endure even the roughest storms. Thanks for your efforts! Legislators are telling us they are hearing from you, and it matters.
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Governor Proposes New Transportation Funding Plan

Governor Pat McCrory announced his plan for statewide transportation funding yesterday, doing away with the Equity Formula and other funding programs in favor of a system that would allow projects of all modes to compete against one another for state money. The plan, dubbed the Strategic Mobility Formula, does not raise any new revenue for transportation. Instead, it allocates existing revenues into three tiers: State, Regional and Local. The State and Regional tiers (the latter of which would be made up of paired transportation districts) would each receive 40 percent of transportation revenue, estimated to be $6.4 billion over 10 years. The Local tier would receive the remaining $3.2 billion in revenue, which would be distributed equally among the 14 transportation districts, whereas the Regional money is distributed on a per capita basis among the 7 regions.

Within each tier, all mode of projects would compete against each other for funding. At the State level, projects would be ranked based solely on data such as cost, congestion, economic competitiveness, big city/small town connectivity, etc. At the Regional level data-driven criteria would make up 70 percent of the ranking, while local rankings would make up the other 30 percent. At the Local level decision criteria would be split 50-50.

The plan eliminates the Highway Trust Fund supplement to Powell Bill funds, which could affect the growth rate of Powell Bill funding. However, information distributed about the plan pledges to hold municipalities harmless with respect to current Powell Bill funding. In announcing the plan, officials stated that it will not favor urban over rural areas and would in fact improve connectivity between regions throughout the state.

These changes will need to be enacted through legislation, which the League has been told will be filed early next week. Once further details on the program are available we will provide a fuller analysis of the plan's impact. The NCDOT has told the League that it welcomes feedback on the concepts presented as part of the plan, so please let us know of your initial thoughts on what has been presented. We will keep you updated as to the plan's progress. For even more on the plan, see here. Contact: Paul Meyer

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Rental Registration Hearing Delayed

After hearing concerns expressed by the League, House members delayed an initial hearing of a bill that would significantly restrict municipalities' ability to operate rental inspection and registration programs. 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 seeks to eliminate landlord registrations and the fees paid by landlords to support the programs. In addition, it reduces the reach of program enforcement mechanisms. 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. The House Government Committee will likely take up the bill next week. Contact: Erin Wynia

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Expanded Local Electronic Notice Bill Moves To Senate Floor

Following an at times heated debate, the Senate State and Local Government Committee gave a favorable report on Wednesday to SB 287 Notice Publication by Some Local Govs. The version of the bill approved by the Committee expands its application to 10 counties and all of the municipalities in those counties, including Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake. SB 287 would give the affected governments the authority to publish legally required notices online on their own websites and through other means instead of requiring them to purchase advertisements in a newspaper. Municipalities spend at least $4 million in taxpayer money annually publishing legally required public notices and chose electronic notice authority as one of their advocacy goals for the 2013-14 biennium. SB 287 is currently on the Senate's calendar for Monday night. Contact: Chris Nida
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League Averts Action on Enterprise Fund Restrictions

The League was successful this week in averting action on HB 708, a bill to require all local government enterprise fund revenues to be used only for the purpose of paying the costs of operating the enterprise and making debt service payments, with any remaining revenue used to lower rates. Director of Government Affairs Paul Meyer met with the bill sponsor, Rep. Tim Moffitt, to express the League’s concerns about the effect that these restrictions would have on enterprise operations and bond covenants. Rep. Moffitt saw the bill as a way to ensure that local governments were appropriately allocating enterprise operation costs to other funds. Moffitt said that based on the League’s concerns he intended to convert this bill into a study bill about enterprise fund cost allocation. Contact: Karl Knapp
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Two Bills to Implement League Tax Reform Goals Introduced

Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover) introduced two bills this week that would implement some of the League's adopted tax reform goalsHB 962 Municipal Sales Tax would allow cities and towns to adopt a 1/2 cent sales tax within their corporate limits. The tax could be adopted by resolution and the proceeds would be available to fund beach nourishment, street and sidewalk construction and improvements, traffic signals, street lighting, street and directional signage, police, fire and rescue, and services to support public events and festivals. HB 952 Delay Sales Tax Distrib. Change Effect. Date would require that when a county changes its method of sales tax distribution, the change would not go into effect until the following calendar year with the October distribution (which is the first of the fiscal year). Contact: Karl Knapp
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Bill Subjecting City Officials To Ethics Provisions Advances

The House Government Committee yesterday gave a favorable report to HB 659 County and City Ethics. Under the bill, ethics provisions previously only applied statewide would also apply to members of local governing boards. This includes a requirement that members of these governing boards file an annual statement of economic interest. The bill will be heard again by the House Appropriations Committee before heading to the floor. Contact: Chris Nida
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Online Sales Tax Bill May Be Headed To U.S. Senate Floor; Contact U.S. Senators Now

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is using a procedural move that would bring the Marketplace Fairness Act directly to the Senate floor. The legislation, which will be S. 743, would allow states to collect sales tax from online retailers with annual sales of over $1 million, providing municipalities with additional revenue that they are currently owed but unable to collect. The Senate is likely to vote to end debate on the measure early next week and then take a final vote on the legislation later next week. North Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan previously voted for a nonbinding budget amendment in support of the Marketplace Fairness Act. Please contact them soon and thank them for their previous vote for the Marketplace Fairness Act, and ask them to again vote in favor of the bill next week. See here for more information on the Marketplace Fairness Act. Contact: Chris Nida
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Substitute Bill Dials Back Political Sign Fix

Members of the Senate Transportation Committee approved substitute language for a bill yesterday that would have originally ensured only one set of rules applied to placement of political signs in municipalities. This proposed fix became necessary after a 2011 law resulted in two sets of rules applying within jurisdictions where a city chose to regulate placement of political signs on its streets: (1) the city's rules, which apply on city-owned roads, and (2) the state's rules, which apply on state highways within the city's jurisdiction. This year, the original version of SB 105 Clarify Political Sign Ordinance Authority would have addressed the confusion created by two sets of rules by allowing a city to apply its rules to state-maintained roads in its jurisdiction. However, the bill language approved yesterday would retain two sets of rules, though it did give municipalities the ability to enforce the state's rules on state highways within their jurisdiction. The League will continue to work to allow municipalities to enforce their own ordinances on all roads within their jurisdiction if they so choose. Contact: Erin Wynia
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House Forms Subcommittee on Deannexation

A special subcommittee has been formed in the House Finance Committee, to which many proposed deannexation bills have been referred. The subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Stone, and consists of Reps. Blust, Hanes, and Tine. The following bills have been sent to this subcommittee for consideration: HB 500 Kannapolis Annexations, HB 567 Lumberton Deannexation, HB 568 Asheville Deannexation, HB 245 Troutman Deannexation, and HB 260 Salisbury/Deannex Rowan County Airport Property. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Asheville Water System Transfer Clears House

With little public debate, the House voted 72-39 Monday night to send a bill to the Senate that would forcibly transfer the Asheville water system to a regional authority. Leading up to that final House vote, most previous discussions of HB 488 Regionalization of Public Utilities centered on whether the bill would require the forced regionalization of other municipal water systems statewide. Throughout, the bill sponsors remained adamant that the bill only applied to the City of Asheville, even though it was written as a statewide bill. 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: Erin Wynia

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Bill To Restrict Municipal Authority Over Cell Towers Scheduled For Hearing

Legislation that would limit municipalities' authority to regulate cell tower deployment and extension is scheduled to be heard next week. HB 664 Cell Tower Deployment Act is currently scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in the House Public Utilities and Energy Committee. The League opposes the bill, as it goes beyond conforming North Carolina's law to federal law and restricts the regulatory powers of cities and towns. Contact: Paul Meyer
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District Days! ~ Get In The Game

District Days! has gotten off to a terrific start and League District 9 will keep things moving when they come to Raleigh Wednesday April 24. Make plans to get in the game. Check the schedule below and RSVP for your District Days! Groups should arrive at the Coates Building on the League's campus, then after a short briefing on current issues, will proceed to the legislature. We'll make the appointments for you with your hometown legislators. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3.

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