League members were a noticeable presence at the Legislative Building this week as action continued around HB 117 NC Competes Act. The Senate passed the revised sales tax reallocation plan this week in a 34-12 vote, and then had local government officials supportive of the plan attend a rally in front of the Legislative Building. That same day, a group of municipal and county officials from Carteret County, which would lose revenue even under the revised plan, met with legislators including the bill sponsor, Sen. Harry Brown, to discuss their opposition.
The latest version of the Senate sales tax reallocation plan would distribute locally-authorized sales taxes back to counties and the municipalities in them on a 50-50 per-capita and point-of-purchase basis. The bill represents substantial movement from earlier versions that would have distributed local sales taxes either wholly or mostly on a per-capita basis, but would still mean revenue losses for urban and tourist counties. Currently, 75 percent of sales taxes are distributed to counties on a point-of-sale basis, while 25 percent are returned on a per-capita basis.
Besides sales tax reallocation, the bill includes provisions providing business recruiting incentives that are key to bringing jobs to the state. The provisions address a League Municipal Advocacy Goal. Senator Brown has noted his work with the League and other groups in the revisions to the plan, and League members and staff continue to discuss revenue options for municipalities as a part of those discussions. (See above.)
We want to thank all League members for their contacts with legislators on these crucial revenue issues. Also, thanks to Senator Brown and to the number of legislators who have recently agreed to sit down with municipal officials from across the state to discuss the effects of the plan. You can read media coverage about the week's events here. This video from the NC Insider focuses on Wednesday's activities surrounding the plan and features Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas. Contact: Rose Williams
The House and Senate this week approved a continuing budget resolution to keep funding state operations through Aug. 31, giving themselves an additional two weeks to reach a budget agreement. The previous continuing resolution, passed just before the July 1 start of the fiscal year, was set to expire today. Only two House members voted against the new continuing resolution, but the issue was more contentious in the Senate. Sen. Tom Apodaca spoke against the measure, saying legislators had had long enough to discuss the budget and that the budget uncertainty was hurting school districts. In the end the Senate approved the continuing resolution by a vote of 33-9. Yesterday afternoon, Speaker of the House Tim Moore told WRAL that the House and Senate were close to agreeing on a total spending number for the budget and he was optimistic a budget could be passed before the Aug. 31 deadline. Rep. Chuck McGrady, one of the chairs of the House Appropriations Committee, indicated that he would be spending the weekend in Raleigh working on the budget. Contact: Chris Nida
Governor Pat McCrory rallied supporters of historic preservation tax credits before the State Capitol on Wednesday, while Senate leader Phil Berger suggested there may be movement on the issue. Governor McCrory, speaking to about 125 people, said conservatives and liberals alike should agree that the tax credits encouraging private investment in historic buildings are good for Main Street economic development across the state. He was joined by Secretary of Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz and other cabinet officials, along with several legislators. Several municipal officials were among the crowd of supporters.
In her remarks, Secretary Kluttz noted the League's work with her office and the McCrory administration in promoting the importance of the historic tax credits. The tax credits expired in December, and the House has passed both separate legislation, HB 152 New Historic Preservation Tax Credit, and a provision in its version of the budget that would restore an historic tax credit. Rep. Stephen Ross, a primary sponsor of the bill, also spoke at Wednesday's event.
Although Senate leaders have opposed bringing back the credits, Senate leader Phil Berger told the N.C. Insider this week that they are not dead this session and will be a part of budget discussions. The restoration of the tax credits are a key League legislative advocacy goal. The League thanks the governor, Secretary Kluttz, Representative Ross, and all legislators for continuing to examine the importance of the tax credits to economic development efforts in towns and cities across North Carolina. We also want to thank League members for their work in promoting the issue, contacting legislators, and helping Secretary Kluttz in her tour of historical properties. Read media coverage of the event here and see a video from the governor's office here. Contact: Scott Mooneyham
The House and Senate gave their OK this week to final legislation that will extend the time for local governments to develop back-up 911 center capabilities. The approval of the conference report to HB 512 Amend/Clarify Back-Up PSAP Requirements means that funding cannot be withheld for 911 call centers as long as local governments can show substantial progress is being made in developing back-up capabilities for primary 911 centers, or public safety answering points (PSAPs). The progress would have to be shown by July 1, 2016.
The bill now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory to be signed into law. Last year, the League successfully blocked language in a bill that could have forced municipalities to build costly new facilities in order to demonstrate back-up capabilities for 911 centers. The conference report did remove from HB 512 a provision that the League worked hard to have added in the Senate, which would achieve a top League legislative priority by preventing municipalities from being additionally charged for county services when those services are already funded through county property taxes.
After working with the League and other stakeholders, the conferees determined that there were too many questions to keep the provision in the final recommended version. Fortunately, this allows the League to continue to seek legislative action on HB 730 County Provide 911 Dispatch Services, which passed the House unanimously in April and would achieve the same goal. The League thanks Rep. Jason Saine, Rep. Susan Martin, Sen. Louis Pate and the other conferees for working on these important provisions and seeking the League's feedback. Contact: Sarah Collins