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2013 Session Resumes, As Does LeagueLINC Bulletin

The General Assembly returned to Raleigh this week, following a three-week break after the organizational session on January 9. And accordingly, this is our first LeagueLINC Legislative Bulletin of the session! Expect weekly bulletins to appear in your mailbox every Friday of the Long Session. The Governmental Affairs Team has discontinued the LINC in THURSDAY conference calls in order to more effectively advocate for cities on Thursday afternoons. The Government Affairs team is available to answer your questions via email or phone -- don't be shy! 
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Town Hall Day Set For March 27

Registration is now open for Town Hall Day, which is being held earlier than ever this year. With legislative leaders indicating they intend to adjourn by late May or early June, legislation is expected to move quickly this session. The League has scheduled Town Hall Day accordingly so you can connect with your legislators while the issues that impact you are still in play. Register now to join your fellow municipal officials in Raleigh on March 27 and let legislators know how the decisions that they are making impact North Carolina's cities and towns.
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Municipalities Decide On 2013-14 Goals

Hundreds of municipal officials met in Raleigh on Jan. 24 to select the Municipal Advocacy Goals for the 2013-14 biennium. NCLM members chose 25 legislative goals and, for the first time ever, 5 regulatory goals that will guide the League's advocacy efforts for the next two legislative sessions. Thank you to all of you who participated in the Advocacy Goals Conference, and please contact any member of the League's Governmental Affairs team if you have questions about the goals.
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Hot Topic Bills Lead Off Legislative Debate

The General Assembly wasted no time filing and debating hot topic bills in the first days of the 2013 session. These proposals address:

Contact: Erin Wynia


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Unemployment Insurance Reform Package Clears House Finance

A House proposal to repay an estimated $2.8 billion unemployment insurance debt owed by the state of North Carolina to the federal government through a combination of UI tax increases and benefit reductions was approved by the House Finance Committee on a party line vote. In order to buoy the balance of the state Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, city governments will be required to escrow 1% of UI taxable wages over the next two fiscal years -- approximately $15-20 million total. In addition, the bill changes eligibility requirements for unemployment claims and eliminates the 120% option for cities to cover non-chargeable claims. We expect the House to vote on the package next week; read more about the House Finance debate in this WRAL article. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Joint Action Program for Electric Rate Cases

Progress Energy has filed a rate case before the NC Utilities Commission and Duke Energy has announced an intention to file a similar rate case soon.  Because these cases would increase the cost of electricity to municipalities, the League membership has requested that the League organize a joint action program through which the League would act as an intervening party in these cases on behalf of municipalities.  If your city or town is interested in participating in this joint action intervention in either rate case, additional information and a participation form (including the participation fee structure) can be found here.  Contact: Sarah Collins
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Internet Sweepstakes Court Fight Continues

In response to last month's ruling by the N.C. Supreme Court that had the effect of upholding the state's ban on internet sweepstakes cafes, a Davidson County Superior Court judge temporarily blocked local police from taking any products using specific computer software. The order, which will receive a full hearing Monday, came in yet another lawsuit filed by sweepstakes operators who were charged with violating state law. The operators claimed recent software changes allowed them to comply with the law. The N.C. Attorney General's office filed a complaint yesterday to dismiss the suit. Contact: Erin Wynia.
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Bills Opting N.C. Out Of Affordable Care Act Changes Filed

Bills filed on the first day of the legislative session would opt North Carolina out of participating in the health insurance exchanges created by the federal Affordable Care Act, and prevent the expansion of the state's Medicaid program. The exchange, which will provide a marketplace for health insurance for those without insurance through their employer, will be operated by the federal government under the terms of these bills. Gov. Pat McCrory has said that he is still weighing the impact of these moves, but legislators indicated that they will move forward with their proposals irrespective of the Governor's decision. Contact: Paul Meyer.
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What Works for You?

With the General Assembly just convening for a long legislative session, you and your hometown will have quite a few opportunities to get involved through League LINC - the NCLM grassroots program.  Take a few moments this week to check your calendars and make plans to coordinate travel for a "Bring 5" group to Raleigh to visit legislators on a Tuesday or Wednesday, to update your relationships in LeagueLINC, to attend Town Hall Day March 27, to visit with your legislators when they're home for the weekend and to plan ways to engage your hometown community in legislative efforts this session. Contact:  Jennifer Webb