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League Bulletin

February 17, 2017

A League goal finds support in a Senate bill filed this week. From Sens. Tommy Tucker, Andrew Brock and Jerry Tillman, SB 81 Sales Tax Economic Nexus for Remote Sales would, as introduced, expand the state and local sales tax levy to remote (online) sellers if the retailer sold more than $100,000 per year or had more than 200 separate transactions. A League goal adopted in October 2016 seeks collection of applicable local sales taxes on online purchases of goods sold by vendors without a physical presence in the state. The League and the National League of Cities have pushed for the passage of state and federal laws that would close the online sales tax loophole, restore marketplace fairness for competing brick-and-mortar businesses and allow state and local governments to collect the sales tax revenue they are already owed. As the state-level piece, this Senate proposal would ensure that any federal solution is able to be implemented in North Carolina. The League would like to thank Sens. Tucker, Brock, Tillman and co-sponsors for their leadership on this issue. Click here for full information about the bill.
A proposal filed in the Senate on Wednesday seeks to shift all local offices currently elected on a nonpartisan basis to partisan. That would include municipal, board of education, and certain judicial seats. SB 94 Elections Transparency comes from Sen. Ronald Rabin of Spring Lake and was referred to the Senate Rules Committee. The League has stated previously that across-the-board changes to elections as such could have unintended consequences, and that it should be for the individual municipality to decide. The Senate bill as filed would take effect with respect to primaries and elections held on or after Jan. 1, 2018. Any local act requiring a municipal election to be conducted in an odd-numbered year would have to be held as a partisan election beginning in 2019. Click here for news coverage. It's separate from a House proposal that surfaced last week to move all municipal elections to even-numbered years by 2022. Contact: Sarah Collins

A bill introduced on Tuesday seeks to criminalize violations of public meetings and records laws. As filed, SB 77 Public Meetings/Records Law Violations from Sen. Bill Cook of Chocowinity would create a new misdemeanor offense regarding the denial of access to public records "for purposes of inspection and examination" or the denial of copies of public records. The League notes that while cities and towns support transparency and fairness in public decision-making, adequate civil remedies already exist for violations that may occur. The proposal would also place new burdens on public officials carrying out their duties.
With scores of bills being filed in the legislative chambers, you need a tool to easily find those important to your town. The League's bill tracker is that tool. It breaks out the proposals we consider to be of critical or high interest, along with others we're simply monitoring. Narrow your search by issue: taxation and finance; economic development; personnel; and many other categories. You can also track the movement of bills, such as the House's eminent domain proposal that crossed over to the Senate this week. It's easy, informative and thorough. Click here to explore it.

Town Hall Day 2017 gets closer every day, and if you haven't yet registered for this March 29 event, wait no longer. Click here to get on board and make sure your community is represented. Town Hall Day is the best way to discuss with state policymakers how your town is contributing to North Carolina's economy and serving the citizenry at home. It balances informative advocacy training and sessions with networking opportunities to maximize your time in Raleigh. The morning is reserved for one-on-one meetings at the Legislative Building, where the state House and Senate craft laws, while the afternoon allows for flexibility -- additional meetings with legislators, observing of legislative sessions, forums with executive cabinet officials, and an evening reception. Don't miss this chance to share your town's success stories and establish meaningful relationships with your elected officials. Hundreds of municipal officials from around the state will be there. How about you? Click here to register now.

The Durham Democratic Party has selected MaryAnn Black to fill the vacancy in state House District 29. In addition to her professional role as associate vice president for community relations at Duke Health, Black has local government experience, having served as a Durham County commissioner from 1990-2002, the latter half as its chair. Her bio from Duke Health connects those backgrounds. "Ms. Black's experience as a clinical social worker, combined with her strong leadership of the county commission, gives her valuable insight and expertise that will help strengthen the delivery of health care to underserved populations," it says. "Further, her experience with the government is a valuable link between the health system and the diverse communities it serves." Black will fill out the term of former Rep. Larry Hall, who left for a role in the governor's cabinet. Click here for news coverage of Black's appointment.

The latest episode of the League's biweekly podcast, Municipal Equation, is out, and it's all about "smart cities." Click here to listen. The rundown: It's okay to admit you're not fully up to speed on smart cities or the Internet of Things (IoT). A lot of people aren't. The talk is so ubiquitous that it might feel like a runaway topic that's tough to break into. Or maybe you're from a small town and think smart-cities and IoT are more of a big-city conversation. But it concerns just about everybody, everywhere. So what does it really mean? As initiatives and projects multiply in the focus of smart cities and IoT -- and while the federal government is actively soliciting comment on a new plan to collaborate with local communities toward smart-city enhancements -- this episode explains the who-what-when-where-why to get us all up on the essentials. Because now is the time to know. Special thanks to the National League of Cities for lending its voice to this episode.

Applications for the state's Disaster Recovery Loan Program are due by 5 p.m. March 3. The applications, for funds appropriated through last year's Disaster Recovery Act, are to be reviewed by the Golden LEAF Board at its April 6 meeting, according to the Golden LEAF Foundation. "Golden LEAF staff will work diligently to present proposals in this program to the Board as quickly as possible for applications submitted after the March 3, 2017 due date," the organization said.

Background: As a result of Hurricane Matthew, the western wildfires, or Tropical Storms Julia and Hermine, more than 30,000 businesses suffered physical or economic damage affecting more than 400,000 employees. The Disaster Recovery Act of 2016 (S.L. 2016-124) appropriated State funds in the amount of $5,000,000 to the Golden LEAF Foundation to provide grants to eligible entities capable of making loans to small businesses affected by these disasters. Click here for application details and characteristics of competitive proposals.

Roughly $6.6 million in grants are headed to rural communities across the state for infrastructure and job creation. State Commerce Sec. Anthony M. Copeland on Thursday announced that the Rural Infrastructure Authority had approved 27 grant requests that included commitments to create 278 new jobs. "Companies bring jobs to local communities, but to attract these jobs in the first place communities must have modern infrastructure in place," said Sec. Copeland. "These grants will help counties and towns meet the needs of business by upgrading water and sewer systems, buildings, and industrial access points all across the state." Click here for the full list of award recipients.