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League Bulletin

January 11, 2019

WHAT HAPPENED: The new General Assembly convened for the first time on Wednesday, ceremoniously kicking off a legislative biennium that starts with the 2019 long session.
WHAT IT MEANS: No serious business yet; the convening was mainly organizational. The chambers elected officers and set rules, and members took photos with their families. The filing of substantial bills won't come until later. 
ON TAP: The new legislature stands adjourned until noon Jan. 30, and that's when the real work will begin. In the meantime, we do know who will be leading some of the committees. Reps. Jason Saine of Lincolnton, Linda Johnson of Kannapolis and Donny Lambeth of Winston-Salem will head up the House Appropriations Committee, for one. Reps. Julia Howard of Mocksville, Mitchell Setzer of Catawba and John Szoka of Fayetteville will lead the House Finance Committee. Full appointments are ahead. 
THE SKINNY: The long session, to take up a good chunk of the year, will involve the development of a new budget and likely a different tone in lawmaking, as Democratic gains in the last election dissolved the veto-proof majority and set a new dynamic for the aisle between parties. According to Associated Press coverage of the legislature's opening day, re-elected chamber leaders Sen. Phil Berger and Rep. Tim Moore said they're hopeful that lawmakers can come together on big topics like education, disaster recovery and government efficiency. Look for plenty of coverage that matters to North Carolina cities and towns in this Bulletin as the session plays out.

Registration is now open for the 2019 Town & State Dinner on Feb. 20 in Raleigh. Once again, municipal officials will join their state legislators for dinner and conversation meant to strengthen existing relationships and build new connections among newly elected local and state leaders. Electronic invitations went out to all members of the N.C. General Assembly yesterday; hand-delivered invitations will go out next week. Be sure to personally invite your local delegation to join you for dinner once you register. Building on the success of last year’s event, attendees will also have the opportunity to attend several informational sessions in the afternoon about affordable housing, broadband access and a legislative update. Register online now!​

Last week, we reported on the creation of a new state agency -- the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency -- focused on the flow of federal money to hurricane-damaged communities. This week, that office has announced the launch of two new programs meant to help local governments affected by Hurricane Florence: State Grants for Financially Distressed Local Governments and State Revolving Loans for Temporary Cash Assistance to Local Government. According to an information release, the first fund will give short-term assistance "to eligible local governments with everyday operating expenses and provide additional capacity for disaster recovery." The second is to "assist eligible local governments with covering response-related payments, while waiting for reimbursement from various federal disaster response, recovery, and resiliency programs." Click here for details and instructions and here for the application form.

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. Click here​ for registration details.

The N.C. Counts Coalition is putting on a free, statewide conference focused on 2020 Census preparations and why that work should begin now. Called "Making N.C. Count," the event is set for Jan. 31, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., at the N.C. State University McKimmon Conference and Training Center, 1101 Gorman St., Raleigh. A reception will follow. According to the announcement, the conference will bring together "a broad set of stakeholders from across the State – including racial, ethnic, immigrant, housing, education, health, labor, business, social service organizations, funders, as well as state and local elected officials." Click here for full details and registration. 
And in case you missed it, the League's Municipal Equation podcast just took at detailed look at the 2020 Census and why it's so vital for communities. Listen here​.
A new state report on the economic value of publicly owned airports to North Carolina tallies to $52 billion, 307,000 jobs and rippling impacts for localities. "For instance, North Carolina’s public airports lease space to more than 3,300 private aircraft that generate more than $19 million in tax revenues for their communities each year," says a release about the report. "The owner of a $1.5 million aircraft based at a North Carolina airport pays local property taxes equivalent to those paid by owners of 10 homes valued at $150,000 each." The report, released by the N.C. Department of Transportation, is titled North Carolina: The State of Aviation and is available at