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League Bulletin

January 4, 2019

WHAT HAPPENED: Since last we spoke, the 2017-18 legislature adjourned for good (after overriding some late-December vetoes), the 9th Congressional District race remains uncertified, and a partial federal government shutdown began and continues as of this writing. 
WHAT IT MEANS: Most of the political news right now is federal at its core but, in recognizing local-level impacts, organizations including the National League of Cities have voiced concern over the shutdown and reasserted it this week by spotlighting the drying-up of federal funds that help local communities.  "Cities don’t have the luxury of waiting -- we urge the federal government to act now and honor its responsibility to serve the American people," said NLC President Karen Freeman-Wilson, mayor of Gary, Ind.
ON TAP: Things are happening at the state level, though. One state agency opened a new office focused on hurricane recovery (see blurb in this Bulletin), and a new General Assembly is on its way to Raleigh, where the 2019 long session will take its first operational steps on Jan. 9. Interim legislative committees are meeting in the meantime. 
THE SKINNY: There's a lot in flux for all levels of government as the curtains open on 2019. The League will be there to cover all that matters to North Carolina's cities and towns -- and with a new addition to our Public and Government Affairs team. Read on for details. 

Did you know the League awarded $142,000 in wellness grants, held 87 events, put out nearly 150 periodic publications, and collected beyond $4.5 million for its Debt Setoff Program in 2018? Those are just a few of many successful numbers captured in the League's 2018 Annual Report​, which takes the busy year point by point. "As we look back over the past year, we can be especially proud that the North Carolina League of Municipalities continues to evolve into an organization that is increasingly responsive to the challenges faced by our towns and cities on so many fronts," said League President Michael Lazzara and Executive Director Paul Meyer in a letter setting the tone for the report. It also looks at the new Municipal Operations Consultants program, our comprehensive report on broadband needs for communities, our toolbox for the opioid-abuse battle, and other big highlights from the year that greatly improved League services without any increases in membership dues. Read the annual report in full here.

The League is thrilled to announce Demetrius Deloatch as the newest member of its Public and Governmental Affairs Team. As a Government Affairs Associate, Deloatch becomes a part of the League's ongoing mission of positive results at the General Assembly, where he's already a familiar face, having interned for legislators in both the House and Senate while in school and later serving as a legislative and regulatory research analyst for Raleigh lobbying firm Troutman Sanders Strategies. “We were so impressed with Demetrius’ energy, skills and knowledge of what cities and towns care about at the General Assembly, and we’re excited to add him to our team," said League Associate Executive Director of Public and Government Affairs Rose Vaughn Williams. Deloatch, originally from Conway, is a 2015 graduate of Elizabeth City State University, where he earned a bachelor's in political science and public administration, graduating cum laude. Two years later, he obtained his master's in public affairs with special focus on local government management. He joined the League as of Jan. 2. “It is an honor to be working with such a reputable organization," Deloatch said. "I look forward to advocating on behalf of the municipalities of the great state of North Carolina." He will work in concert with Williams, Legislative Counsel Erin Wynia, Legislative and Regulatory Counsel Sarah Collins and others on the staff heading into the 2019 legislative long session. Please join us in welcoming Deloatch to the team.

Washington City Council Member and League Vice President William Pitt has been appointed to the National League of Cities' 2019 Race, Equity and Leadership Council, where he will play a "key role in shaping NLC's policy positions and advocate on behalf of America's cities and towns before Congress, with the administration and at home," according to a news release. The council focuses on expanding the capacity of local elected officials to improve issues of race, close disparities and create more equitable communities. "I am excited and ready to be engaged," Council Member Pitt said in the release. "We win when we are all at the table." Other recently added voices​ from North Carolina to the NLC table include League Executive Director Paul Meyer and Jacksonville Council Member Angelia Washington, both added to NLC's Board of Directors.

It's one of the biggest federal projects going, affecting all of us, and local government leaders will play a crucial role in it. On the latest episode of the Municipal Equation podcast, we go inside the 2020 Census. What do we need to know? What's in it for our cities and towns? What's different this time around? (Hint: the internet.) How's the data used? And how can we be sure it's accurate? The takeaways are myriad and stakes huge. Join us in a great conversation with the U.S. Census Bureau, the National League of Cities, the N.C. Office of State Budget and Management, and an expert from academia on this, our 60th episode. Municipal Equation is the League's acclaimed podcast about cities and towns adapting in the face of change. Pitch ideas or topics for episodes to host/producer Ben Brown​.

Before it left town, the 2018 General Assembly voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto​ of SB 469 Technical Corrections, a piece of legislation we followed in this Bulletin. That bill, covering numerous matters, came with a new provision to make it clear that an existing limitation on not requiring new or increased stormwater controls for preexisting development or redevelopment “applies to all local governments regardless of the source of their regulatory authority.” It additionally required local governments include that limitation in their stormwater ordinances. Gov. Cooper put his veto stamp to the bill Dec. 21. "Ending stormwater and water quality protections threaten the safety of our communities," he explained. The legislature put the bill into law by overriding the governor's veto a week later. Click here for full details on the law.

Want to know more about bringing better broadband to your community? Join us for Let's Connect, a statewide series of conversations about broadband access led by national and state experts to engage local residents. These events are being sponsored by the League, the Minneapolis, Minn.-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance and N.C. Broadband Matters. The events are set for Jan. 28 in Albemarle, Jan. 29 in Fuquay-Varina and Jan. 30 in Jacksonville. Please use this link​ for registration details.

Next Thursday, the N.C. Environmental Management Commission (EMC) will consider the fiscal impacts of proposed changes to the Nutrient Strategy Rules for the Neuse and Tar-Pam Basins. They will be doing so to determine whether to send the proposed rule changes and the fiscal note out for public comment. Of interest to local governments in those basins is that these rules have a regulatory impact on both wastewater dischargers and stormwater programs. In late 2017 and throughout 2018, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality reached out to stakeholders in these basins regarding the substance of the proposed rules, but the estimated fiscal impacts were just recently released. For more information see the EMC’s website​ (second agenda item).

There's a new state office focused on the flow of federal money to hurricane-impacted communities. Within the Department of Public Safety, the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency has just named its top officials and is "working to streamline the process for administering federal block grants for Hurricane Matthew recovery and planning for additional federal funding for residents affected by Hurricane Florence," said a news release. The state has been awarded $236 million in block grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for Hurricane Matthew needs and is awaiting word on such funds for the Hurricane Florence recovery. The news release​ has more info and a roster of the new office's leaders.