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Be Prepared

As the pace of the session continues to increase, it is vitally important for city officials to be in constant contact with their legislative delegations so that those channels of communication are fully open, rather than rarely used. Similar to the 2011-12 biennium, bills are literally being introduced and then run in committee the next day (or pretty quick). The personality of this session requires that city officials be aware of what is being introduced -- the League bill tracking system is a great way to stay up to date. Thanks for your ongoing support and involvement!   
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ACTION ALERT: Proposal Limiting Building Inspections in Committee Next Wednesday

Companion bills filed in the House and Senate this week would limit the building inspections local governments could require to those inspections specifically listed in the N.C. Building Code. HB 120/SB 108 Building Inspection/Local Consistency would also require any local government wishing to conduct inspections beyond those required by the N.C. Building Code to first have those additional inspections approved by the N.C. Building Code Council. These bills would jeopardize building safety by curtailing customized requirements in high wind zones, particularly along the coast and in the mountains. HB 120 is scheduled to be heard in the House Regulatory Reform Committee on Wednesday. If you have local inspection requirements that would be jeopardized by these bills, or have requested local code variations from the Building Code Council in the past, please contact members of the Senate Commerce Committee and House Regulatory Reform Committee this weekend. Contact: Chris Nida
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Anti-Neighborhood Bill Promoted by Homebuilders

HB 150 and SB 139 Zoning/Design and Aesthetic Controls would eliminate aesthetic conditions as part of conditional rezoning processes, significantly diminishing the ability of cities and existing neighborhoods to work with homebuilders and developers to increase buy-in for proposed building projects. Additionally, the bill would greatly harm "form based" planning codes developed by communities through public processes. This planning technique is used by forward-thinking communities to promote enhanced economic development, or to promote a particular character or style of a given city or town in order to advance growth opportunities. The League opposes the bill in its current form as being anti-economic development and hurting the property rights of existing citizens and businesses. Contact: Paul Meyer
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Sequestration - Deal Unlikely

The federal March 1 deadline for sequestration is upon us and it appears unlikely that the President and Congress will reach a deal to halt the automatic spending cuts. For more information on the effect of the sequestration cuts on cities and towns, please see this article from Governing magazine.
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Fetzer Strategic Partners Working with NCLM

Fetzer Strategic Partners will be working with the League throughout the 2013 legislative session.  The Governmental Affairs Team looks forward to advocating alongside Tom Fetzer, who is a former mayor (City of Raleigh) and also served as Chair of the NC Republican Party.    


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Charlotte Airport Transfer Advances, Then Stalls

SB 81 Charlotte Regional Airport Authority was given a favorable report by the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday, but not before some debate. The bill would transfer ownership of Charlotte Douglas International Airport from the City of Charlotte to a newly-established Charlotte Regional Airport Authority. Questions were raised regarding control of the land surrounding the airport – an issue Asheville Regional Airport also is facing – and the impact of the ownership transfer on outstanding revenue bonds for the airport. A representative from the City of Charlotte spoke to the Committee and indicated that the City was prepared to conduct a study on the airport’s ownership and present the results prior to the legislature’s adjournment this year. Although the bill moved forward, its sponsor agreed to delay further consideration until the effect of the transfer of the airport's revenue bonds on the credit rating of the City of Charlotte is better understood. The League opposes the bill.  Contact: Paul Meyer


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Action Needed on Hold Harmless Extension

At the 2013 Advocacy Goals Conference, the League membership adopted the goal of seeking an extension of the Transitional Hold Harmless payment received by 114 municipalities. While there is bipartisan backing for this extension in the House, no extension bill has been introduced at this point. Those cities and towns that would lose funding without an extension should contact their delegations* to educate them about the effect of losing the payments and to get a commitment to support the extension.  Contact: Karl Knapp
*Login to LeagueLINC to get contact information for your specific municipality.
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Required Refund of Taxes in Certain Deannexed Areas Receives Approval

SB 97 Property Tax/Deannexation, which would require the release of property taxes from any taxpayer in an area that was part of the municipality for less than six months prior to deannexation and that had not yet been notified of the taxes due, was approved by the Senate Finance Committee this week. The bill targets the Monkey Junction area of New Hanover County, but during the committee hearing legislators expressed interest in expanding the bill to cover other areas deannexed last year. The bill was amended in committee so that its provisions expire as of July 1, 2016. Contact: Karl Knapp
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Natural Gas Extraction Bill Clears Senate

The Senate gave its final approval to SB 76 Domestic Energy Jobs Act this week, advancing a measure that bill sponsors stated would bring hydraulic fracturing jobs to the state sooner (read WRAL's report in "Drilling fast-track gets tentative Senate approval"). Senators approved several amendments during floor debate Wednesday, including an addition that would clarify the bonds required of hydraulic fracturing companies to protect landowners from damages caused by any development on their property. Other significant provisions remain unchanged from last week; read a summary in this month's EcoLINC. Contact: Erin Wynia


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Boards & Commissions Revamp Nears Final Approval

House members engaged in multiple heated debates over SB 10  Government Reorganization and Efficiency Act (Sen. Tom Apodaca) this week, ultimately rewriting many key provisions from the version approved by the Senate earlier this session and giving the bill tentative approval. The bill would eliminate several boards as currently constituted, then reform those same boards, often with different membership qualifications, numbers of members, and appointing officials. One board targeted in the bill, the N.C. Environmental Management Commission, is followed closely by the League as part of its regulatory advocacy program. The bill would eliminate the current seat reserved for a municipal official, though it would retain one at-large appointment currently held by another municipal official. Read more about the conflicts between the two chambers and within the House majority party in this Charlotte Observer report. Contact: Erin Wynia.
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Appropriations Committees Continue Meetings

Joint appropriations subcommittees continued to meet this week, primarily to hear presentations and ask questions regarding the areas of the budget they are responsible for. The Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, for instance, heard presentations on topics including transportation project-related debt, innovative financing issues, and tolling in North Carolina. A study on the economic impact of options for Interstate 95, including tolling of the interstate, is due to be completed in late March or early April. Calendars that have been distributed to the subcommittees indicate that the Governor's budget proposal is due to be released March 18, after which the Senate will begin crafting its version of the State budget. Contact: Chris Nida
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Water Transfers, Beach Authority Bill Proposed

Legislators introduced SB 151 Coastal Policy Reform Act of 2013 (Sen. Bill Rabon), a multi-faceted environment bill that makes incremental changes to the state's interbasin transfer of water laws. This proposal, a product of a water supply stakeholder group on which the League participates, spells out the process for modification of interbasin transfer certificates. It also applies a similar process to areas under the Central Coastal Plain Capacity Use Area, an area in eastern North Carolina required to transition away from groundwater supplies toward surface water supplies, thereby easing the transition for affected water systems. Finally, the bill includes a provision to allow local governments to remove nuisance structures from beach strips otherwise under state control. Contact: Erin Wynia
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Are You Registered?

For the first time in recent years, Town Hall Day will be held in March - March 27, to be exact, less than 4 weeks from today. 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 today and plan to 'Bring 5' from your hometown. Join your fellow municipal officials in Raleigh March 27 to let legislators know how the decisions that they are making impact North Carolina's cities and towns.