A statewide tour by Secretary of Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz in support of restoring the historic preservation tax credit is continuing, with recent stops in Eden, Hendersonville and Burlington garnering media attention. The League and several other groups are supporting Secretary Kluttz on her tour and continuing to lobby for passage of the tax credit. Since 1998, the historic preservation tax credit has been associated with $1.5 billion in investment in the state, at an average annual cost of $14.2 million. We would like to thank League members who have helped set up events in their communities as a part of this effort. You can read media coverage about a couple of Secretary Kluttz's stops here and here.
Meanwhile, news reports indicate that film production in North Carolina is declining with the replacement of film tax credits with a grant program capped at $10 million. Executives for the Fox series Sleepy Hollow have indicated that, if renewed for another season, they will move production from North Carolina to Georgia.
The N.C. Association of County Commissioners has approved its legislative goals for the upcoming legislative session, and a handful are similar to those approved by the League's membership last month. One NCACC goal includes language calling for support of legislation that improves the economy through state investments including competitive incentives. That goal also calls for film and historic preservation tax credits to be restored. Another of the organization's legislative goals urges support of new or expanding revenue streams to adequately fund transportation infrastructure, while another would allow county governments to provide legal notices electronically in lieu of publication in a newspaper.
NCACC spokesman Todd McGee told The Insider state government news service that the organization would oppose any efforts to shift state responsibilities onto county government and expressed specific concerns about proposals that would have counties take over secondary road maintenance. He said the move would "devastate many counties." Read the full list of the NCACC's goals here.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a water body clean-up plan jointly written by Burlington, Graham, and the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) this week, marking one of the few times the environmental agency allowed regulated parties to determine the specifics of how they would be regulated. In December, the League members chose flexible regulatory solutions to water quality impairments as their top regulatory policy goal, and this plan gave the affected local governments the flexibility to determine the best way to make infrastructure and other investments to restore water quality.
The N.C. Division of Water Resources and EPA required the plan as a way to improve water quality in Burlington and Graham because those waters were significantly impaired from urban stormwater runoff, a common problem in other urbanized areas of the state. In commending the cities and NCDOT for a comprehensive course of action, EPA stated in its approval letter, "This collaborative effort by the Cities and DOT is a good example of how locals can effectively address priority waters and we support development of similar [plans] as alternatives [to state-produced regulations] in North Carolina." Beginning four years ago, the League pushed DWR to allow this alternate approach for cities facing similar stormwater clean-up responsibilities. The League members supported this particular plan and the flexibility the approach allowed Burlington and Graham to meet their regulatory requirements. Contact: Sarah Collins
For the League's Governmental Affairs team, 2015 is bringing change. The team, on behalf of the entire League staff, would like to thank Governmental Affairs Associate Whitney Christensen, who is leaving her position to join the Ward & Smith P.A. law firm in Raleigh. Whitney describes her new position as her "dream job," as it will allow her to lobby when the General Assembly is in session and practice intellectual property law outside of session. Nonetheless, we will greatly miss her here, both as coworkers who enjoyed her warm personality and as team members who appreciated her lobbying skills. Whitney was the key to gaining one of the League's major lobbying wins last session, the repeal of a cumbersome E-Verify requirement that created red tape headaches for minor municipal purchases and contracts.
Then next month, the Governmental Affairs team will welcome Vickie Miller as Grassroots Coordinator. Vickie comes to the League after a long career assisting local government, having worked for more than seven years in CDBG grant administration at the state Department of Commerce. At the Department of Commerce, she spent two years as Director of the Community Investment and Assistance Division and five years as Assistant Director of the Division of Community Assistance. Most recently, she has served as Coordinator for North Carolina Operation Livesaver, working on railroad safety education issues. In her role at the League, Vickie will work to grow the ability of city officials to connect with legislators and other state officials to improve the League's advocacy efforts and reach.
We wish Whitney all the best in the future, and look forward to working with Vickie beginning next month.
Governmental Affairs Associate Whitney Christensen
New Grassroots Coordinator Vickie Miller
Sen. Earline Parmon of Winston-Salem is resigning her legislative seat to go to work for her former legislative collegue, U.S. Rep. Alma Adams. Senator Parmon will serve as Congresswoman Adams' outreach director for the Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Lexington and Thomasville areas. Her resignation is effective Jan. 28. The League would like to thank Sen. Parmon for her service in the legislature and congratulate her on her new position. Read more about her move here.
The state's top elected officials are set to soon vote on a $52 million deal reached between the administration of Governor Pat McCrory and the City of Raleigh for the city's purchase of the Dorothea Dix property. The Council of State still has to vote on terms of the deal. Meanwhile, Senate leader Phil Berger said he was continuing to look at the deal as some of his fellow senators said the price may be too low. Legislators blocked an earlier deal between Raleigh and the state. The city plans to turn the property near its downtown into a destination park. A group of mental health advocates has criticized those plans, and wants the Obama administration to intervene. Governor McCrory has said that he plans to put the money gained in the deal toward mental health programs. Read more about the agreement and different opinions about it here and here.