The N.C. Court of Appeals has backed the state's rejection of a 2014 insurance industry request to raise homeowner insurance rates by a statewide average of 25 percent. Instead, after rejecting the request in December 2014, State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin had ordered a 0.3 percent average decrease. The appellate court on Tuesday agreed with Commissioner Goodwin's conclusion that the insurance industry, represented by the N.C. Rate Bureau, hadn't shown substantial data to back its request for an increase. The commissioner had also noted that a rate-hike had just gone into effect the year before. The Rate Bureau, meanwhile, contended that despite that increase, which came in 2013 and averaged 7 percent, homeowners' premiums remained inadequate to cover risk.
The Rate Bureau took the disagreement to court, unsuccessfully, per Tuesday's ruling. "The evidence in the record supports the Commissioner's critical findings and ultimate conclusions," the court found. "This action will save homeowners hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance premiums," Commissioner Goodwin said in a statement. Rate-increase cases usually come every couple of years and often create most worry for property owners in coastal communities, seen by the industry as most at risk to seasonal storm damage and subsequently slated for higher increases. The appeals court's decision doesn't mean individual communities won't see rate increases; some western North Carolina communities, for instance, may be in line for higher premiums, reports the Asheville Citizen-Times. Click here and here for more news coverage.
The League on Thursday released an in-depth 2016 End of Session Bulletin detailing the accomplishments of cities and towns during the past legislative session, as well as the legislation and issues affecting them. The 44-page document includes summaries of dozens of bills that the League lobbied during the session. As the Bulletin makes clear, the successes during the 2016 session were made possible only because of the advocacy of League members. The League staff thanks all of our members for their hard work and many endeavors to pursue favorable outcomes before the Legislature this year.
Is there value in training elected officials for town management? If so, is it worth budgeting for? For sure, according to remarks in a recent news article that highlights League and UNC School of Government (SOG) offerings that can help public officials do their most with their roles. "It is our opinion that attendance to these types of training classes is an effective use of town money,” the Asheboro Courier-Tribune quoted a state treasurer's office spokesperson as saying. The newspaper took on the topic this week in a report noting that state law only mandates ethics training for elected officials, with any other form of training optional. But those options, including training offered by the League and SOG, can give officials advanced knowledge and insight in a variety of specific areas. SOG Chief Counsel Dr. Frayda Bluestein pointed out how the League's upcoming annual conference -- CityVision 2016, Oct. 23-25 -- will give elected officials a key opportunity. "Our general sessions are focused upon subjects which will help elected officials do their jobs,” League Director of Public Affairs Scott Mooneyham told the newspaper. Click here to read the full article.
A federal appeals court has denied a request from state leaders to stay the ruling that struck down North Carolina's voter ID law. The state sought the stay pending an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. That's according to the Associated Press, which on Thursday reported that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reasoned that preventing harm to voters is a higher priority than granting a stay. Federal judges last Friday struck down the 2013 voter ID law after concluding the legislature passed it with "discriminatory intent" against black voters, though legislators who crafted the law said it was a protection from voter fraud. According to the AP, attorneys seeking the stay in the ruling's enforcement may pursue other legal options.
Episode Four of the Municipal Equation podcast is out! Click here to listen. This time, we journey into the psychology of moving from place to place in search of the perfect town or city to settle down in -- if there is such a thing. Sometimes, it comes with finding creative ways to build a relationship with your locale -- a topic of research with huge insights, not only for residents of any town but for local public officials as well. "I think there are a lot of ramifications for municipal governments," says our guest, Melody Warnick, author of a new book, "This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live." You can listen to the episode over and over again and still find new takeaways. Find this and past episodes here, and click here for your free iTunes subscription (and please leave a good review). Municipal Equation is the League's own podcast addressing the challenges, solutions and new ideas orbiting municipalities and their residents. If you have an idea for a show -- perhaps highlighting unique work your town is doing to improve quality of life or efficiency -- email League Advocacy Communication Associate Ben Brown.
Could Charlotte become a major league soccer city? Bob Morgan, CEO of the Charlotte Chamber, thinks so, according to a report in the Charlotte Observer this week. According to the newspaper, Morgan pointed to a friendly game the city hosted last Saturday between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan that drew more than 50,000 people. "Soccer is but one example of part of a broader culture, one of a city and a region that is forward-thinking, and that is and will continue to attract companies and people," the article quoted of Morgan.
The League's Government & Public Affairs team said a warm goodbye to summer intern Bailey Recktenwald last week. In her internship at the League, Bailey learned about the legislative process, the workings of municipal government, and local politics. She also took a deeper dive into an area of special interest, GIS, assisting the team with multiple online mapping projects. This fall, Bailey returns to UNC-Chapel Hill, where she is a sophomore studying geography and public policy. Best wishes to Bailey for her bright future!