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League Bulletin

February 8, 2019

WHAT HAPPENED: A fairly light week as expected at the legislature, with leadership keeping a calm pace for the early days of the 2019 long session. The Senate saw 24 new bills filed; the House, 26. 
WHAT IT MEANS: A few of the latest proposals are of interest to cities and towns. They're described in this Bulletin and followed by our easy-to-use Bill Tracker.  As committees fire up, bill-business will accelerate, and still ahead is the rollout of state budget plans. Gov. Roy Cooper's State of the State address, in which he will discuss his budget priorities, is set for Feb. 25. 
ON TAP: A little nearer is our fun and effective Town & State Dinner, bringing together municipal and legislative officials on Feb. 20 for an intimate evening of food, conversation and guest speakers following informative afternoon sessions on hot topics for our members.  
THE SKINNY: The Town & State Dinner is about advocacy and partnership, and it's the best organized way for the leaders of our cities and towns to convey priorities and teamwork-spirit to their delegation in the General Assembly. The registration deadline falls on Monday. More details follow in this Bulletin.

In a presentation to the funding appropriations strategies committee of the N.C. Board of Transportation​ on Wednesday, the League focused on the considerations city officials are making now to ensure that transportation systems several decades in the future meet the needs of North Carolinians. Because city officials must work so closely with state transportation staff and leaders, the priorities of both groups benefit from being aligned. The League urged the state policymakers on this committee to broaden their thinking about what constituted a transportation system to include modes of travel beyond cars and trucks. The League also focused on broadband connectivity and data security as two unavoidable components of future transportation systems. Contact: Erin Wynia

Infrastructure was the word of the day as League Executive Director Paul Meyer and President Michael Lazzara, the mayor pro-tem of Jacksonville, visited Capitol Hill to discuss increasingly pressing needs with Congress. The trip was part of an advocacy effort arranged by the National League of Cities (NLC) to connect municipal leaders with federal decision-makers on the topic. Infrastructure is NLC's top legislative priority this year. During the visit, Meyer and Lazzara met with federal officials and members of Congress, including North Carolina's Rep. David Price​, to push for better and reimagined infrastructure. While transportation, healthy water and sewer systems and so on were of continued focus, Meyer and Lazzara also emphasized the need for adequate broadband service, which has moved into the definition of essential infrastructure​. Municipal leaders from elsewhere in the country emphasized the same, according to NLC.

“As local leaders, we see firsthand what policies work and the solutions our residents need from all levels of government,” NLC Immediate Past President Matt Zone, councilmember from Cleveland, Ohio, said in a press release. “We’ll need to work together to address our nation’s toughest challenges, including rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. Building strong federal-local partnerships can result in solutions for our residents that will strengthen local economies for generations to come." 

Legislators worked mostly behind the scenes this week, with the light pace of early-session bill filings continuing. Find full details of all bills that affect municipal operations using the League’s online bill tracking service. Notable bills for cities this week included the following:
HOUSING: Legislators added another local bill to allow a local government to provide affordable housing units to employees of that local government. This week’s filing, HB 31 Allow Durham Pub. Schools to Provide Housing, applied to the Durham Public Schools Board, whereas last week’s bill pertained to local governments within Bertie County. These bills fall in line with a top priority of city officials this session to advance bills that create additional affordable housing options.

SEXUAL ASSAULT EXAMINATION KIT TESTING: A bill backed by Attorney General Josh Stein and legislative leaders in both parties, HB 29 Standing Up for Rape Victims Act of 2019, laid out a process by which law enforcement agencies must facilitate testing of all new and older untested sexual assault examination kits. As part of that process, the proposal directed any law enforcement agency that possessed kits completed before January 1, 2018, to establish a review team that would determine within three months the testing priority for all untested kits. The bill also provided for the development of law enforcement agency training in these new kit testing procedures, and it appropriated funds to pay for the testing.
PUBLIC SAFETY WORKER PROTECTION: Senators continued a trend from recent legislative sessions of enhancing the enforcement tools against actions that harm public safety officers or place them in danger with SB 20 Emergency Worker Protection Act. This proposal increased the penalties for various felonies and misdemeanors if they were committed against emergency workers.
EMINENT DOMAIN: Members of the Senate filed a companion bill to a House proposal filed last week that would place on the ballot a state constitutional amendment that would prevent condemnation of property except for a public use. Read more about that proposal in last week’s Bulletin​.

The time is now to register for the best municipal-legislative networking event around. Sign up by 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 11 to reserve your seat at the 2019 Town & State Dinner, a prized gathering that will bring local officials and lawmakers together to build relationships and discuss teamwork. The dinner, to include special guest speakers, is scheduled for Feb. 20 in Raleigh, and seats are filling quickly. Attention municipal officials: be sure to personally invite your legislator. Last year's dinner was a resounding success for bringing city and town leaders together with their delegation and creating opportunities for new relationships. Prior to dinnertime, informative afternoon sessions for attendees will cover affordable housing, broadband access and an update on legislative matters. Wait no longer; register now for the 2019 Town & State Dinner.​​

The groundbreaking that just took place in downtown Albemarle could create such a strong ripple that Mayor Ronnie Michael already has a name for it: "the Pfeiffer Effect." Pfeiffer University is building downtown a $16 million health science building expected to bring a new level of energy and economic potential to the local scene. The story, which links that progress to the efforts and collaborations of local government, is told at Here We Grow​, the League's economic development storytelling website brought to you in partnership with WRAL TechWire. Techwire has added a feature to its own website​ highlighting the stories that municipalities are sharing on Here We Grow. 
The TechWire partnership affords participants of Here We Grow -- free to all League members -- a massive, statewide audience and a chance to rep your municipality's hard work in a way that is unmatched. Specifically, Here We Grow, at, is where your town can tell us of its economic development successes -- from big-kahuna recruitments and groundbreakings to plans and investments that set the stage for local growth. Cities and towns across North Carolina are doing all sorts of innovative things to bring jobs and boost business. Get the word out, beyond your region. Let us know about the work happening in your town. 
​Haven't signed up yet for Here We Grow? It's easy. Members can email to request a login. You'll receive instructions on how to proceed. If you're in need of inspiration or ideas of how other towns are telling their stories, browse the plentiful archive at


A program to fix up homes damaged by Hurricane Florence has a new, extended deadline for participation. According to a press release ​from the governor's office, Sunday will be the last day for eligible homeowners to fill out the forms required for the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program for partial home repairs done at no cost to the homeowner. "Getting people back in safe, livable homes in their own communities is key to recovering from Hurricane Florence and the STEP program can help," said Gov. Roy Cooper. Click here ​for complete information.