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105 House & Senate Bills

As always, the 2013 Long Session has set up as a very busy time for the 540+ member cities in the NC League of Municipalities. The League Governmental Affairs team is tracking more than 400 bills that affect cities and towns and is actively involved in advocating on 105 "critical" or "high" interest bills for cities. The next two weeks will be very busy weeks at the General Assembly, as the dreaded "crossover" deadline approaches (May 16). Expect us to reach out and request your involvement and help on short notice, and thanks for your ongoing support of cities and towns! League members have traveled to Raleigh for District Days! and engaged with their legislators back home, and it is making a difference.
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ACTION ALERT: Critical Juncture For Transitional Hold Harmless Extension

Contact your House members this weekend and next week if your municipality is interested in seeing an extension of the transitional hold harmless payments. As the scheduled crossover date of May 16 nears, the window of opportunity for an extension of these payments is narrowing, so now is the time to contact your legislators and ask for their support on this matter. The bill with the best chance of advancing in the near term may be HB 389 Restore Hold Harmless Sales Tax Funds, so when you speak with your Representatives please ask for their support on this bill. The League has been working on this issue since the 2012 legislative session, but legislators hearing from the municipal officials they represent is what will make the difference. For more on this issue see here. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Transportation Reform Bill Moves Quickly

The House Transportation Committee adopted the Governor's transportation reform plan as a committee substitute for HB 817 Strategic Transportation Investments on Wednesday and the bill was amended and approved by the House Finance Committee on Thursday. The amendment approved by the Finance committee restored in statute funding for three projects: the Garden Parkway, Mid-Currituck Bridge, and the Cape Fear Skyway. Details of the reform plan laid out by the legislation are available here. Under the proposal, the source of Powell Bill funding would be 10.4 percent of the net revenues produced by the gas tax, as opposed to a combination of 1-3/4 cents of the gas tax and a supplement from the Highway Trust Fund. The fiscal note for HB 817 indicates that this change would reduce the Powell Bill funding by 2/10 of 1% in FY 13-14, but by 3.5% in FY 14-15 and 1.5% in FY 15-16. Powell Bill funds are projected to be higher than under the current system after FY 15-16, but these projections rest on optimistic assumptions of future gas tax revenues. Contact: Chris Nida
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Cities Work with Rental Registration Bill Sponsor

Twenty-seven League members and city residents traveled to Raleigh Monday (picture below) to meet with HB 773 Local Gov'ts/Bldgs/Structures/Inspections bill sponsor Rep. Bill Brawley. The bill would limit cities' ability to conduct rental registration and inspection programs -- programs cities use to address blighted, high-crime, substandard, and nuisance rental properties for the protection of surrounding property values and residents. While the bill received committee approval last week, it has not yet been scheduled for a full House vote. The League thanks Rep. Brawley for offering to consider changes to the bill that would allow cities to continue operating effective rental registration programs. Contact: Erin Wynia

Cities meet with Rep. Bill Brawley regarding HB 773

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Senate Regulatory Reform Bill Destroys Cities' Ability to Protect Property, Run Environment Programs

After a total of one hour of committee and floor debate, the Senate passed a sweeping regulatory reform bill this week that would destroy the ability of cities and towns to protect property from flooding and run other required environmental programs such as those that protect sewers from backing up into homes and businesses. One week after receiving its only committee hearing, SB 612 Regulatory Reform Act of 2013 passed the Senate on a 36-11 vote and now moves to the House. While cities thank bill sponsors for adding regulatory reforms requested by cities to the bill, the League remains strongly opposed to a provision preventing municipalities from enacting environmental regulations stricter than what is required by State or federal law. This blanket provision would lead to numerous unintended consequences, such as those listed above, and would eliminate cities' ability to respond to environmental threats to life and property, comply with state and federal permit conditions, and streamline local development procedures. Contact: Erin Wynia

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Asheville Water Bill Sent to Governor

The House voted this week to concur with the Senate's changes to HB 488 Regionalization of Public Utilities, sending to the Governor the bill that would transfer the City of Asheville's water system to a local metropolitan sewerage district. The Governor now can opt to sign the bill into law, let it become law without his signature, or veto the bill. The primary change to the bill made by the Senate was a requirement that all municipalities to be served by a future Metropolitan Water and Sewerage District issue a resolution of support before that district is created. The League continues to oppose the bill and believes that the legislature should not be intervening in local matters best left in the hands of locally elected officials. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Public Enterprise Revenue Study Bill Advances

 through on his commitment to the League this week and converted HB 708 Study Public Enterprise Systems/Use of Funds from a set of requirements about how local governments can use enterprise fund revenues to a study bill. As approved by the House Finance Committee and the full House, the bill now directs the Legislative Research Commission to study the proper use of enterprise revenue and make recommendations for improvement of requirements regarding such revenues. The recommendations would address accounting controls, requirements for monitoring of and proper funding for infrastructure maintenance and improvements, and improvement of local government public enterprise management. Contact: Karl Knapp

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Cell Tower Deployment To Be Heard Next Week

As the League continues to negotiate with the wireless industry over the Cell Tower Deployment Act (HB 664), the bill was not heard in committee this week, but it has been scheduled for next Wednesday's House Public Utilities Committee meeting. In its original form, the bill extends beyond federal law to expedite wireless facility collocations and reduce fees paid by wireless carriers to local government consultants. We are hopeful that our conversations with industry representatives will resolve outstanding issues which negatively impact cities and city residents and businesses. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Local Electronic Notice A Hot Topic in the House

The House could take up as soon as next week local bills that would extend to certain counties and cities the option to publish legally required public notices on government websites and through other means. One of those bills, SB 287 Notice Publication by Some Local Govs, has already been passed by the full Senate and needs only House approval to become law. Yesterday in the House Environment Committee a discussion of HB 755 DENR Electronic Notice, which would extend similar online publication authority to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), turned into an extensive debate on electronic notice for all governments. A substitute bill that would have maintained the requirement for all state agencies except DENR to purchase newspaper advertising space for legally required notices online was even proposed at one point, but it was voted down by the committee. Eventually HB 755 received a favorable report from the committee. See here for thoughts on the debate on HB 755 from the bill sponsor, Rep. Chuck McGrady. League members selected electronic notice authority as one of their top advocacy goals for the 2013-14 biennium. Contact: Chris Nida
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Modified "Call Before You Dig" Bill Passes House Committee

A modified version of HB 476 Rewrite Underground Damage Prevention Act passed the House Public Utilities and Energy Committee Wednesday. The bill is a comprehensive overhaul of the state's underground digging laws, also known as the "811" laws named after the "call before you dig" phone number excavators must dial to notify utilities of planned digging activities. The version approved by the committee this week includes a new section assigning enforcement responsibility to the State Fire Marshal. The N.C. Utilities Commission would take responsibility for assessing penalties for violations of the laws. The bill represents the culmination of months of negotiations between representatives of the League, contractors and other excavators, and utilities with underground lines such as natural gas, electricity, and cable. The League supports this compromise legislation, which would require all cities and towns with underground utilities subject to the act to join the NC 811 notification center. However, the bill would exempt cities from the requirement to mark -- or provide a "locate" -- for all gravity-fed wastewater lines installed prior to the law's effective date, and all stormwater facilities. Contact: Erin Wynia
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Personnel Records Bill Not Heard By Committee

A bill that would make certain personnel records public records was pulled from a committee calendar this week after originally being scheduled to be heard. HB 837 Government Transparency Act would make such records as the reasons for promotion/demotion and performance evaluations for employees of all levels of government public records. The League has been part of a coalition of groups that have worked on the legislation with bill sponsors. Contact: Paul Meyer
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High Point MPO Ethics Carve-Out Bill Fails

In the wake of last session's MPO/RPO ethics bill, which made all MPO/RPO officials subject to the provisions of the State Ethics Act, a handful of local bills to carve out local MPOs have been introduced. HB 527 High Point MPO is one of these, but it did not receive a favorable report in the House Government Committee on Thursday. Detractors of the legislation suggested that the House should wait for SB 411 Ethics Requirements for MPOs/RPOs -- a statewide bill limiting the reach of ethics requirements for MPOs/RPOs -- before approving local bills in this area. SB 411, which contains many provisions suggested by the League, has been scheduled to be heard in the House Transportation Committee next week. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Local Bidder Preference Bill Fails

A bill designed to authorize local governments to provide bidding preference on goods and services provided by local companies did not receive a favorable report in the House Government Committee Thursday, on a vote of 11-18. HB 284 Local Contracts/Local Bidder Preference was voted down on a bi-partisan basis, with opposition members saying it was bad for business and would drive up costs to local government by creating an alternative to traditional low bid processes. The bill was an NCLM Advocacy Goal. Contact: Paul Meyer

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Fast-Track Stormwater Permitting Bill Receives Green Light

A substitute version of HB 480 Environmental Permitting Reform received approval by the House Environment Committee yesterday and now heads to the House floor. This regulatory reform bill would create a fast-track permitting program for issuance of stormwater permits by the state and local governments. To do so, it directs the N.C. Environmental Management Commission to place into rules a set of minimum design criteria for various stormwater devices. If a device designer seals the design as complying with that criteria, the design would bypass state or local technical review and receive automatic approval. While the initial version of this bill also applied to the design of sedimentation and erosion control devices, the version approved yesterday removes that section. The League thanks Rep. Chris Millis for addressing many of the League members' concerns with the original version of the bill. Contact: Erin Wynia
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911 Study Bill Approved by House Committee

A new version of HB 345 Increase Penalties for Misuse of 911 System was approved by the House Judiciary B Committee on Wednesday. The new bill creates a new study by the Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committee and delays the implementation of overreaching 911 center operational standards to January 1, 2015. The study will address a host of issues of importance to cities, including the makeup of the 911 Board. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Career Firefighter/Rescue Squad Pensions Bill Discussed

A bill to equalize the pension benefits received by law enforcement officers was discussed in the Senate Pensions Committee on Thursday, where the League testified in opposition to the proposed legislation. SB 346 Career Fire and Rescue Retirement, if enacted, would cost local governments approximately $8 million annually through increased employer contributions to the Local Government Employees Retirement System. The League is opposed to this unfunded mandate on cities and towns. Contact: Paul Meyer

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FEDERAL: Online Sales Tax Bill Still Scheduled for Monday Vote

The U.S. Senate is scheduled for a Monday vote on the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would give states the authority to collect the sales taxes on online purchases that they are currently owed but unable to collect. If you have not done so already, please contact Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan. Thank them for their previous votes in support of the Marketplace Fairness Act and ask them to vote again in favor of the bill, S. 743, on Monday. If approved by the Senate, the bill would still need to be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives before becoming law. Contact: Chris Nida
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YES YOU! - District Days! Continues

Six down, three to go! Make plans to participate in your District Days! by checking the NCLM District Map and confirming your date with Raleigh legislators. District Days! is a coordinated effort to have regional groups of mayors, managers and municipal leadership in Raleigh meeting with legislators and attending committee meetings and the House & Senate sessions. 

There is no registration fee and we set the appointment schedule. Groups should arrive at the Albert Coates Local Government Center on the League's campus, then after a short briefing on the Top 3 Hot Issues proceed to the legislature. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3.

District Days! Schedule

  • 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