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League Bulletin

June 7, 2019

​WHAT HAPPENED: Last we spoke, the Senate's budget had just received chamber approval, sending the $23.9 billion plan back to the House for a concurrence vote. The House, as expected, did not concur with Senate's differing version of the budget, leading to the usual negotiation stage in which a small group of conferees from both chambers get together to hammer out a compromise the General Assembly can send the governor for review. 
WHAT IT MEANS: It's hard to be specific. The House and Senate plans varied a lot, but the negotiations aren't done out in the open and we don't know how long an agreement will take. Don't forget the other wildcard...
ON TAP: the potential for Gov. Roy Cooper to veto the plan, which for all anyone knows could set off protracted work toward consensus. (You can still access our breakdowns of the separate House and Senate​ plans, and our comparison chart highlighting the governor's plan as well.)
THE SKINNY: While it feels like the homestretch of the 2019 session -- and it may well be -- it's difficult to predict an actual closing time, given the budget variables and without any statutory deadline for overall business. Legislating continues, though, with various organizations and industries in late-session pushes for agenda priorities. The League is always following the activity for measures that may impact cities and towns. Read on for some of this week's bill highlights, covering short-term rentals, historic preservation, law enforcement recordings and more.

​The House this week approved separate legislation that would extend the His​toric Preservation Tax Credit another four years and enhance the credit in declared disaster areas. The 113-5 House vote in favor of HB 399 Historic Preservation Act of 2019​ follows approval of a four-year extension of the tax credit -- crucial to redevelopment projects across the state -- in both the House and Senate versions of the state budget. 
Movement of the separate bill may reflect House leaders' desire to avoid having the measure become caught up in lengthy budget negotiations, both with the Senate and Gov. Roy Cooper. Letters recently sent to key legislators by North Carolina mayors, as represented by the N.C. Mayors Association and N.C. Metro Mayors Coalition -- with the assistance of the League, called for approval of separate legislation exactly for that reason. The Historic Preservation Tax Credit is currently set to expire in January. 

League advocates have learned credible information that real-estate and online rental booking interests are seeking legislation that would preempt local ordinances regarding short-term rentals. Given that key bill filing deadlines passed several months ago, such preemption language would likely be inserted into a bill that had already partially progressed through the legislative process. In such a scenario, the time for input by local officials would be minimal. Therefore, if your city or town believes it should retain the right to enact a short-term rental ordinance, please contact your legislators now. Ask them to look for this language and to oppose any attempts to preempt local authority. Additionally, if you have an existing ordinance that would be nullified by a preemption law, please send it to NCLM Chief Legislative Counsel Erin Wynia​.

SB 148 Public Records/Release of LEO Recordings passed both the House Judiciary and House Rules committees this week and is likely to receive House consideration next week. SB 148, introduced at the City of Greenville's request, would add two new factors to the list of purposes a law enforcement agency may release a law enforcement recording: 1) suspect identification or apprehension, and 2) locating a missing or abducted person. While an amendment was ultimately not brought forward, the League thanks Sen. Don Davis, Rep. John Faircloth and Rep. Pricey Harrison for working together to gather consensus to amend the SB 148 to also include provisions from HB 791 Law Enforcement Agency Recordings. If passed, HB 791 would achieve a statewide goal of cities and towns by 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 appreciates the commitment by all to continue to work on the issue.

A press release​ from Gov. Roy Cooper this week rounded up some of the recent bills he's received from the legislature and signed into law, including HB 233 State Audit​or/Local Finance Officer Amends and HB 646 ID Approval/Flex Muni One-Stop. Two weeks ago, this Bulletin highlighted​ the Senate's passage of the finance officer bill, which makes changes to the duties of local government finance officers. Among other features of the bill, it adds the power to contract with outside entities like certified public accountants, bookkeeping firms, councils of government and other units of government to ensure the officer's duties are fulfilled. The ID legislation the governor signed establishes rules for a 2018 constitutional amendment that set out parameters for students and state and local government employees for using their student or employee ID cards for voting. For such photo IDs to be verifiable, the university or government in question has to submit documentation to the State Board of Elections. The law also extends the deadline for the State Board of Elections to approve IDs issued by local government entities to Nov.​ 1, 2019, for the 2020 election, when voters will have to show an acceptable form of ID to cast ballots.
Another bill that received attention this week was SB 533 Regulatory Reform Act​ of 2019​. As the Insider State Government News Service reported, bill sponsor Sen. Andy Wells told the Senate Rules Committee the bill would be amended on the floor to strike a proposed repeal of the statewide ban on computers and televisions entering landfills. Members of the committee had voiced concern over the proposal's effects. The bill is currently scheduled for Senate attention Monday.