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Stakeholder Meetings for Source Water Protection Rules Resume

Stakeholder meetings resumed this week for rulemaking required by 2014 legislation after a year-plus hiatus. HB 894/S.L. 2014-41 Source Water Protection Planning mandated the development and implementation of source water protection (SWP) plans for "every supplier of water operating a public water system treating and furnishing water from surface supplies," and the state has been leading a stakeholder process to gather input.

The legislation was a response to two 2014 accidents that received national attention for their potential effect on drinking water supplies: the accidental release of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol in West Virginia, and the coal ash spill into the Dan River. To date, SWP planning has occurred throughout the state on a voluntary basis and has followed a template recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The state views that the intent of HB 894 was to expand on this template, with particular emphasis on emergency response protocols.

The League has been an active participant in stakeholder meetings, and this week started the process of reviewing potential rule language. Although a timeline has not been determined, when drafting is concluded these rules will be adopted by the N.C. Commission for Public Health. More information on the rulemaking and stakeholder process can be found here. Contact: Sarah Collins


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HB2 Trial Set for November

This fall will mark the start of a trial aimed at overturning House Bill 2, and it may include focus on the portion that prohibits municipalities from enacting local nondiscrimination ordinances, reports the News & Observer of Raleigh. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder set the trial, over a case brought by a group of North Carolina residents who claim the state law discriminates against LGBT individuals, for Nov. 14 in Winston-Salem. According to the Raleigh newspaper, five lawsuits currently circle HB2, which has been the centerpiece of LGBT rights conversations since the N.C. General Assembly passed it in March. Judge Schroeder is also set to hear arguments Aug. 1 on whether to suspend the law pending this legal challenge, which contends HB2 is unconstitutional. Click here for more coverage.

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Few Bills Left on Governor's Desk

Gov. Pat McCrory has cleared away most of the pending bills awaiting his signature. Just a dozen remained on his desk as of Friday morning, according to the General Assembly's count. In the past week, the governor has signed into law roughly eight bills including HB 483 Land-Use Regulatory Changes, legislation that the League was able to greatly scale back from a previous version that would have been harmful to municipalities in the way of property-owner protection and local government land-use decisions. Gov. McCrory also signed SB 667 Elections Omnibus Revisions, which calls for a legislative study of ways to potentially move municipal elections to even-numbered years, on the same ballots as statewide races, by 2020. Remaining in the yet-to-be-signed stack as of Friday morning was SB 326 Local Gov'ts/Bldgs/Structures/Inspections, which deals with restrictions on rental registration programs. Click here for links to what the governor has signed and what's left on his desk.

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New Bike Laws Rolling In

Municipalities and their police officers may want to prepare the public for a new bicycle law that will allow motorists to pass bicyclists in no-passing zones in certain circumstances and will toughen the penalties for aggressive motorists. The News & Observer reports that the new law, effective Oct. 1, will allow motorists to pass bicyclists in no-passing zones if they give the two-wheelers at least 4 feet of space, and if the bicyclist isn't turning left. Motorists caught driving aggressively around bicyclists may have to pay higher fines or could lose their license, the Raleigh newspaper reported.

Bicyclists also have new requirements under the law. For nighttime riding, effective Dec. 1, they'll have to add a red light to the rear of the bike or wear reflective clothing visible from a long distance. According to the newspaper, the updates are the result of conversations between bicyclists, police officers and other stakeholders. The changes are in a transportation package approved on the final day of the short session. Click here for the law's language.


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State Rep. Jeter resigns

State Rep. Charles Jeter of Huntersville resigned from the General Assembly on Monday. The two-term lawmaker, in a statement quoted by numerous media outlets, said his elected office took too much time away from family. "This has been one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make in my life," Jeter said on Monday, as quoted by WRAL and other outlets. "I love serving the people of North Carolina, and I know today’s announcement will be letting my Republican colleagues down in a very tough election year fight. However, I simply cannot continue down a road that in the end forces me to make my wife and children anything less than the first priority in my life." Jeter, of House District 92, was set to face Charlotte Democrat Chaz Beasley for the seat in November. The Mecklenburg County Republican Party will appoint someone to run in Jeter's place. Click here for more news coverage.

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NLC Affirms Plan for Charlotte Conference

The National League of Cities says it's standing by its commitment to bring its 2017 City Summit -- the annual, national conference formerly known as the Congress of Cities -- to Charlotte. NLC announced the news on Monday after a weekend resolution passed by the organization's leadership. The resolution denounced House Bill 2 and similar legislation passed in other states limiting local decision-making authority. “The National League of Cities sent a clear message to the state of North Carolina: we stand with the City of Charlotte, and we will oppose any actions that preempt local control or discriminate against members of our communities,” said NLC CEO Clarence E. Anthony. “Changing the location of City Summit would effectively penalize the City of Charlotte for the state’s action. We will continue our efforts to combat North Carolina’s HB2 and similar state laws across the country.” The 2017 City Summit is scheduled for November 15-18. Click here to read the full NLC statement.

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Dollar General Buys 12 NC Wal-Mart Express Locations

Wal-Mart has sold off more than 40 of its former Wal-Mart Express stores to Dollar General in a deal that includes a dozen North Carolina locations. They include Broadway, Carthage, Coats, Foar Oaks, Liberty, Pikeville, Princeton, Red Springs, Richfield, Snow Hill, Stedman and Yanceyville, according to a Dollar General news release. The transaction spans 11 states. "Dollar General anticipates relocating 40 existing Dollar General stores into the purchased sites by October 2016 and entering one new market as part of the purchase," the company explained. "Terms of the transaction were not disclosed." Click here and here for news coverage.


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Podcast Recap! And a Preview of Episode Four

In case you missed it, Episode Three of the Municipal Equation podcast offered plenty of authority and perspective on how municipalities can play a part in driving innovation locally. Click here to listen. Host Ben Brown talked with Christopher Gergen, leader of national learning collaborative Forward Cities and entrepreneurship group Forward Impact, about how cities and towns of any size can express their role in the entrepreneurship ecosystem for the benefit of local and state economies. This episode was fittingly recorded at Duke University's new downtown entrepreneurial space called the Bullpen. Don't miss it.

And how about a preview of Episode Four? Click here for a snippet. We discuss the concept of place, with plenty of takeaway for local government. The rundown: When you move from city to city, hoping for a better quality of life, what do you really expect? Has the city met those expectations? What's missing? And is there anything that you personally can do to better connect with your locale? These are questions that journalist and author Melody Warnick has pondered and researched extensively, resulting in a new book about place attachment and what individuals can do to make their own local experience the best it can be. "I think there are a lot of ramifications for municipal governments," Warnick tells us. Check out the preview, and stay tuned for the full episode, out Tuesday. Click here for all episodes and here for your free iTunes subscription.