Time is running out! Pre-register today for CityVision 2018. Set for Hickory on Sept. 19-21, CityVision is the League's premier event full of engaging keynote speakers and informative sessions that will give you the tools you need to face the challenges in your hometowns head on. This year, CityVision will offer roundtable 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. This is the best opportunity for municipal officials from around the state to dive deep into issues like broadband and technology, infrastructure, branding your municipality and, most of all, grants -- finding the money you need to prepare your municipality for tomorrow. State Attorney General Josh Stein is also on the agenda to discuss the scourge of opioid abuse and how communities can fight back. The annual conference also is where members elect officers and make any constitutional or bylaw changes. Pre-registration ends Friday, Aug. 24, so register early to avoid increased walk-in registration fees.
The General Assembly has adjourned its extra session after weekend floor votes overriding two of the governor's latest vetoes. Now in law, HB 3 sets the captioning for all six constitutional amendments that the legislature is putting before the electorate this fall, with House and Senate leaders saying the bill was necessary to give voters simple, non-political language. The title of each proposed amendment will be "Constitutional Amendment," instead of more descriptive writing that legislative leaders say could confuse or mislead voters. The other bill, SB 3, shows a judicial candidate's party affiliation only if they had not changed that affiliation within 90 days of registering for that office.
The bills' objectors quickly filed lawsuits. One of them, from the NAACP and Clean Air Carolina, seeks to block four of the proposed amendments on the grounds that they were unconstitutionally drafted. Gov. Roy Cooper is suing to preserve certain powers, like appointments, that two of the constitutional amendment proposals would transfer to the General Assembly. Supreme Court candidate Chris Anglin is suing to restore the "R" designation he wants on the ballot next to his name, the mechanics of SB 3 having removed it. Anglin has said he will withdraw from the race if his legal challenge, scheduled for a hearing next week, isn't successful. A hearing on the challenges to the constitutional amendment proposals is set for Aug. 17. The Insider State Government News Service reported on Friday that the N.C. State Board of Elections had hoped to finish work on the ballots this week but, per the lawsuits, is unsure it can have them ready in time for the intended Sept. 7 issuance of absentee postal ballots.
The N.C. Department of Revenue announced this week that, beginning Nov. 1, it would begin requiring certain retailers to collect state and local sales and use taxes on all online purchases. The requirement will apply only to retailers with more than $100,000 in online sales or more than 200 transactions sourced to North Carolina in a calendar year. It will also apply only to sales made on or after Nov. 1. The department’s directive comes in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision (highlighted in the June 22 Bulletin) in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., in which the court found that physical presence is not necessary to create “substantial nexus” between a seller and a taxing state. The Department of Revenue did not release any estimates of the amount of additional revenue expected to be collected from online retailers. Several national groups have produced estimates, such as this one from the Government Accountability Office from Nov. 2017, that focus on the total amount of state and local tax revenues estimated to be collected under directives like this one. Even prior to this directive, some large online sellers had already been collecting sales and use taxes in North Carolina. Revenues from sales in the month of November will generally begin to be distributed to local governments in the February sales tax distribution. Local governments may wish to wait until receiving distributions in February and beyond before assessing the amount of any increase in sales tax revenue they will see.
Legislators on Monday dove into policy issues surrounding new modes of transportation that may appear futuristic now but are under development and coming cities’ way. Responding to presentations regarding autonomous vehicles, bikeshares, electric scooters, and micro-transit, members of a House interim transportation committee raised questions regarding public safety, tax liability, and insurance. Committee members posed inquiries to speaker Rodger Lentz, the City of Wilson's chief planning and development officer, regarding the city’s pursuit of a micro-transit solution to meet its mass transit needs. Lentz explained that he hoped micro-transit, which uses an app-based technology similar to ridesharing services like Uber, would eventually expand Wilson’s ability to connect residents to shopping and doctors’ appointments. This committee discussion represented the first time many of these modes of transportation had been discussed in the N.C. General Assembly, though the legislature has discussed autonomous vehicles for several years now. As a result of those discussions and a 2017 law, the League and several city officials now participate in an advisory committee tasked with making policy recommendations on topics such as public safety, transportation planning, insurance, and licensure of autonomous vehicles. Contact: Erin Wynia
The National League of Cities will accept applications starting Monday, Aug. 13, for its board and other networking positions. Click here for a form to fill out. Those who do will receive updates and tips on the application process.