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League Bulletin

July 26, 2019

​WHAT HAPPENED: The General Assembly sent the governor a stopgap bill​ to continue federal funding to North Carolina as the state budget impasse held. An override vote on the governor's budget veto didn't materialize, though the majority party continued work to that end. Separate end-of-session-ish bills continued moving as chamber leaders kept committees open for business. And a Republican House member resigned. ​​
WHAT IT MEANS: We're still going at the General Assembly, though House Rules Chairman David Lewis did tell the Insider State Government News Service that the number of bills under consideration will thin out next week and in the week after. The state budget veto remains on the calendar.
ON TAP: There's a process for replacing a resigned legislator, in this case for House District 113 in western North Carolina, which until noon today (Friday) was occupied by Cody Henson, who explained his departure in a Facebook post. Until that seat is filled (and as of this writing it was unclear when that will happen; by law​ the party selects someone and the governor is supposed to approve the appointment within seven days of that), there's one less vote on the Republican side of the chamber. House leaders expect votes daily next week. 
​THE SKINNY: There's plenty of activity around Jones Street as we hit the 26th day of the new fiscal year, though we haven't seen publicly any signs of agreement between the governor and legislature that would lead to a signed and enacted state budget. But there have been actions on bills we're following. Read on for the updates. 


A bill placing rules around billboard relocations passed the Senate on Tuesday after senators approved several favorable amendments. HB 645 Revisions to Outdoor Advertising Laws​ allows billboard owners to relocate signs, pursuant to numerous restrictions, when the removal is prompted by a condemnation action such as for a road widening. Throughout the legislative process, the League has worked to place more restraints on where the signs could be moved during condemnations. The League appreciates the willingness of the primary bill sponsors to include these restrictions. The bill now returns to the House for a concurrence vote.

The Cooper administration is touting its efforts to improve broadband access, even while acknowledging that many rural areas of the state remain without reliable and fast internet connections. State Chief Information Officer Eric Boyette was in Morehead City last week speaking to the Interstate 42 Corridor Commission Board of Directors about state initiatives to improve broadband access, focusing on those included under an executive order signed by Gov. Roy Cooper in March. The executive order’s provisions and other action by the Cooper administration have the potential to both boost and to benefit from local public-private broadband partnerships. The FIBER NC Act, introduced this session with overwhelming bipartisan support, would unlock the ability of local governments to partner with private ISPs to build broadband networks. Read more about Boyette’s discussion here​.

This week, the House Alcoholic Beverage Control C​​ommittee held a hearing on HB 971 Modern Licensure Model for Alcohol Control​, which would make significant changes to the system of liquor sales in the state. No vote was taken and immediate action on the bill is not expected. Sponsors of the bill revised the language through a proposed committee substitute ​and released a fiscal memorandum​ showing the financial implications of the bill. The bill calls for the elimination o​​f all state ABC stores by Jan. 1, 2022, shifting to a system of 1,500 private vendors who would sell by permit. Based on excise tax changes, the fiscal memo shows local governments collecting $55 million more in revenue than under the current system by the year 2022-23. Rep. Chuck McGrady​​​, who sponsored the bill, indicated support for ensuring local governments receive more revenue than before. The bill sponsors have signified there is still work ahead and welcome feedback from interested parties.
​Among other bills that saw activity this week: 

-​Budget: Without a state budget in law yet, the legislature sent the governor a limited stopgap bill, HB 961 Ensuring Authorization of Federal Funds​.​​ The bill lists ​implicated programs​, many of which are under the Department of Health and Human Services or are for community development​​.

-Utility safety: The Senate passed HB 872 Underground Utility Safety Act/Changes​, which would make various technical changes to the Underground Utility Safety and Damage Prevention Act​ and give more authority to the Underground Damage Prevention Review Board. The bill was the result of a broad stakeholder process and now goes to the governor for his signature.

-Traffic control: HB 784 Traffic-Control Training Program​ passed the House and has gone to the Senate for consideration. It would direct law enforcement agencies to increase the age requirement for traffic-control officers and set up a training course in the community college system.

-Hemp: After disagreements on a proposal to define ​​non-psychoactive smokable hemp as marijuana, a House committee this week approved a substitute version of SB 315 North Carolina Farm Act of 2019​ ​defining them differently. ​WRAL coverage of the story includes viewpoints from law enforcement.​

​Amid a recent General Assembly discussion of pre-empting local regulation of short-term rentals, WRAL interviewed League Director of Political Communications and Coordination Scott Mooneyham about why local governments -- knowing best the circumstances and wishes of their communities -- should maintain the option of local authority. While commercial hotels and motels in dense areas are typically adhering to zoning regulations, short-term rentals like Airbnbs are becoming defacto hotels in residential areas, which some communities have sought to regulate for the protection of neighbors, Mooneyham noted in the piece that aired last weekend. "Those people need to be protected, their quality of life needs to be protected, and the investment – the most important investment most people will ever make – needs to be protected," Mooneyham said. The full video and accompanying article are on WRAL's website​

The Town of East Spencer and the City of Durham are the latest communities showing the economic development strength of local communities at Here We Grow, a partnership between the League and WRAL TechWire​ sharing potent stories of responsible growth and great returns as driven by North Carolina's municipalities. For the Town of East Spencer, a 1,500-population town in the Piedmont, the motto since 2012 has been "Change the Image and Change the Mindset." At, the town explains how they've done just that​ with wise planning, aggressive grant pursuits and healthy involvement from residents. In Durham, it's the story​ of how the city's government used local funds to leverage private investment and encourage economic stability in historic Northeast Central Durham, which in recent years had seen business closures and bad ripple effects. It's turning around now. "The restoration and redevelopment of these properties has helped the continued revitalization and vitality of this targeted commercial corridor and its surroun​ding neighborhoods," a city official said. Read all about it at Here We Grow, and please consider sharing your municipality's story as well. Cities and towns across the state are flexing talents and resources to enable prosperity, bring new jobs and enhance the quality of life. Contact​ for more information. 

The State Water Infrastructure Authority has signed off on $112 million in loans for communities' water and wastewater needs. The loans vary in size and are going to communities from the mountains to the coast. The Town of Murphy is down for almost $795,000 for sewer fixes; the City of Fayetteville is getting $22.5 million in wastewater system funding. "These loans begin to address the challenge based on the greatest need," Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press release​. It notes that the 20-year water-and-sewer infrastructure needs-list ranges from $17 to $26 billion. The press release has full information about the funding source and projects that have received aid.