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League Bulletin

April 19, 2019

WHAT HAPPENED: A peppy feeling on Jones Street with more than 200 new bills emerging in the House and plenty of committee movement.

WHAT IT MEANS: Two quick explanations -- 1) the House hit a bill-filing deadline (for proposals not involving money) and 2) spring break. The House had already planned to take a week off, and the Senate scheduled downtime for the week of April 22. 

ON TAP: One more House deadline for bills -- April 25 at 5 p.m. for all remaining public bills that specifically deal with appropriations and finance. That's the last real deadline in the legislature this year for new, individual bills, though there is one more big date ahead -- crossover, currently scheduled for May 9. Generally speaking, that's when bills must have passed either the Senate or House to remain alive. This means you can expect fast business when legislators return from break. And amid all that is House budget development.

THE SKINNY: It's been busy, and will be ahead. We thank our lawmakers and local leaders statewide for the job they're doing together to make North Carolina better. Whatever your plans are this holiday weekend, we hope you have a great and restful one.​

​The House Alcohol Beverage Control Committee this week advanced HB 91 ABC Laws Modernization/PED Study, making changes to the state's system of liquor distribution and sales, following input from League staff and amendments from committee members. League staff addressed the committee with opposition to a provision for mandatory consolidation of local ABC boards -- a provision the committee ended up removing by amendment following the League's testimony.

The bill still contained provisions that allow the purchase of individual bottles for special orders, local boards to charge delivery fees when delivering liquor, local governments to permit Sunday alcohol sales, and liquor tasting in local ABC stores. The bill's next stop is the House Finance Committee.

Registration for CityVision 2019 -- the biggest and best annual conference for North Carolina's cities and towns, May 14-16 in Hickory -- is closing on Sunday. Don't miss your chance! Join us for two days full of engaging keynote speakers and concurrent sessions that will give you the tools you need to face challenges in your hometowns head on. This year, CityVision will offer round table discussions following each general session to address shared challenges, connect with regional partners and engage in facilitated discussions to gain practical information that you can use immediately. REGISTER NOW!

​Bills to better the broadband landscape in North Carolina continue their traction in the General Assembly. Calendared for a committee hearing next Thursday is HB 431 FIBER NC Act, which addresses a key goal of localities in all parts of the state. Member cities and towns are encouraged to contact their legislators and ask their support of the bill, whose list of sponsors covers more than half of the House. The bill, to be heard in the House State and Local Government Committee, specifically would authorize local governments to build broadband infrastructure and lease it to private operators, an arrangement that would give unserved or underserved communities a path toward reliable, fast internet. Also in support of better broadband access is SB 310 Electric Co-Op Rural Broadband Services, which received a favorable report this week and now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would allow subsidiaries of the state’s electric cooperative corporations to provide broadband services to one or more premises.

​Two bills passed the Senate this week that would affect two programs that offer grants to municipalities -- the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF). SB 356 Surplus Property Proceeds to Parks and Water will add revenue to both funding programs by directing a percentage of the money from the sale of state-owned surplus property to each of the funds. SB 381 Reconstitute & Clarify Environmental Boards expands the purposes for which the CWMTF funds can be used to include (among others) the protection and restoration of floodplains and wetlands and adds to the grant criteria and priority considerations. The League thanks Sens. Andy Wells and Harry Brown for thinking of additional ways to increase funding to these programs.

​A sweeping tax-law bill under discussion in the Senate includes, among many other things, a four-year extension for the historic rehabilitation tax credit, a program that has helped communities across the state revitalize, put aged buildings back to work and broaden property tax rolls. Supporting a goal set by cities and towns for this biennium, Section 5.2 of SB 622 Tax Reduction Act of 2019 would push the credit's sunset date to Jan. 1, 2024, from the currently programmed Jan. 1, 2020.  Additionally, it eyes internet sales taxation with a "marketplace facilitator" measure designed to help the state collect taxes from additional online sales. A portion of this revenue stream flows to local governments. Separately, the bill requires all online accommodations booking companies to collect sales tax on rentals facilitated through their online platforms. Those companies would have to make an annual report to the N.C. Department of Revenue, which would include a listing of the gross receipts and location of all rentals booked through that company’s online platform in the prior year. This proposal, from Sens. Jerry Tillman of Archdale, Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine and Paul Newton of Mount Pleasant, came up for discussion in the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. The committee took no action.

In other news, the House saw the filing this week of HB 791 Law Enforcement Agency Recordings, which if passed would achieve a statewide goal of cities and towns. It would make several changes to the existing laws on the release and disclosure of law enforcement agency recordings, including allowing release or disclosure to the city manager, city council, or citizen review board if there is a confidentiality agreement and it is done in closed session. The League thanks sponsors Reps. John Faircloth, Stephen Ross and Allen McNeill.

More than 200 House bills surfaced this week on a filing deadline. They also include HB 786 Emergency Management Changes, which would ensure that disaster recover money can be spent for housing -- addressing another goal of cities and towns this biennium.

Follow along with all the bills relevant to cities and towns via our online bill tracker.