Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

League Bulletin

August 31, 2018

WHAT HAPPENED: Court action, and lots of it. Federal judges struck down the state's congressional district map again. Lawmakers are fighting to keep November's elections plans for those races unchanged. Separate constitutional amendment proposals bounced inside lawsuits. Gov. Roy Cooper has attempted another lawsuit to block the legislature's new rewrites of two of those proposed amendments. The N.C. Supreme Court told the state's elections board to pause ballot preparation as legal challenges continue. And more.
WHAT IT MEANS: The general election -- Nov. 6 -- is dead ahead. With so much in limbo, we're not sure​ what the ballot is going to look like or how this ultimately will affect the voting timeline. ​​
ON TAP: More court action, probably. The congressional district issue by itself is loaded with questions about when or whether the maps will be redrawn, and by whom if so. Separately, Gov. Cooper's ongoing ​​​challenge​ to the legislature's rewritten constitutional amendment ballot language adds additional uncertainty to the schedule. ​
THE SKINNY: The courts are going to determine a lot of what happens with our elections ahead, and the governor's ballot challenges were expected to get court attention today​ (Friday) as of this writing. For now, overall, we wait. But things change by the moment.

The N.C. Supreme Court this week told state elections officials to hold off​ on readying ballots for the Nov. 6 general election amid legal challenges over the ballots' contents. Specifically, they're over proposed constitutional amendments that the legislature hoped to put before voters. Challengers to those amendments say their wording is misleading and shouldn't be on the ballot, though lawmakers who penned the language say its straightforward and clear. In a press release Thursday, the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement pointed out that state law requires absentee-by-mail ballots be available 60 days before an election, or by Sept. 7 this year. "However, court action has effectively delayed the start of absentee voting this year, and ballots will not be ready by September 7," the press release stated. It added that ballots, under federal law, have to be available 45 days before an election, or by Sept. 22 this year.
"It takes about three weeks to prepare, print, test and deliver ballots to counties across the state," the state elections office continued. "To meet the federal deadline, that process should start around Sept. 1, although the State Board staff is exploring additional options to ensure federal compliance if delays continue." Elections officials also pointed out that the state's congressional district map has been determined unconstitutional, per a new ruling from federal judge​​s​ that deemed them excessively-partisan gerrymanders. How that will affect this year's elections plans has yet to be settled. The board said it would keep its social media channels, like Twitter​ and Facebook, active with timely information, which would also be available on its website,​.

More than 1,300 jobs were announced this week in separate economic development successes around the state, starting in Greensboro, where Publix Super Markets Inc. revealed plans to build a distribution center employing 1,000 workers. The first phase of the project would bring an expected $300 million investment. The City of Greensboro was among partners in the project. Moving south, the City of Fayetteville was a partner bringing local grants to a 208-job recruitment with Booz Allen Hamilton's newly announced expansion in that area. Most of those jobs will be information-technology focused, according to a press release with full details​. “The creation of these high-quality jobs confirms our status as a defense and innovation hub and brings important new career opportunities to our community,” said Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin in the release. And in Sanford, Dowa Thermotech Co. Ltd., which deals in industrial furnaces and related products, announced 109 jobs with a $22.5 million investment ahead. The payroll impact would be nearly $4 million. The City of Sanford was among many partners in the effort. Said Rep. Robert Reives in a Department of Commerce press release, “We’re proud of this collaboration and stand ready to assist Dowa Thermotech as they begin to grow in North Carolina."

The League is seeking local leaders to serve on its newly-created Broadband Task Force. Members of this group will serve as strategic advisors and ambassadors for changing state broadband policies to clearly allow local governments to build broadband infrastructure. If you are interested in becoming a task force member, please email League Legislative Counsel Erin Wynia​​.

​Over the past several months, the League has partnered with the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at the University of North Carolina’s School of Government on a statewide survey of the management and long-term planning practices and policies of North Carolina drinking water and wastewater utilities. The initial report on the results of that survey are now available and can be found here (click on the “Resources” tab). This report summarizes the data collected in the survey – a subsequent report will examine this data to attempt to determine any correlation between long-term planning and system resiliency. The League would like to thank the EFC for its ongoing partnership on these issues, and thank the 227 respondents – including 168 municipal utilities – who took the time to respond to this extensive survey. Keep an eye out for the League and the EFC’s annual survey of water and wastewater rates, which will be sent to utilities in the coming weeks.

The N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) on Thursday announced 138 regional projects it "anticipates funding and scheduling for construction over the next decade." These are "top-scoring" transportation projects evaluated among more than 900 across the state. They're expected to be programmed in the upcoming 2020-2029 State Transportation Improvement Plan​. "They include 115 highway projects programmed for $2.4 billion in funding, seven rail projects for $96 million, three ferry projects for $26 million, and three transit projects for $191 million," a press release says. NCDOT had released individual press releases for most regional divisions as of this writing. (Division One; Two​; Three​; Four; Five​; Six​; Seven​; Eight​: Nine​; Ten​; Twelve​).

North Carolina cities and towns continue to submit homegrown economic development stories to Here We Grow, the League's free storytelling site that shows how North Carolina benefits overall when each of us works to improve the places we live. Gastonia, Garner, Mills River and Asheboro are the latest to tell their stories on Here We Grow. "There’s never been a better time to live, work in or visit Gastonia," the city wrote in a detailed story of positive growth. In Garner, the town explains how it recruited Amazon for a major distribution center and 1,500 jobs. "Today will be remembered as the day that Garner entered a new era of prosperity and opportunity,” Mayor Ronnie Williams said. 
Mills River writes about its manufacturing growth. "Even in today’s economy, community supporters should still get excited about manufacturers choosing to grow in Henderson County," the town said. "Even more so when that company brings both a benefit to the workforce coupled with a sustainable focus." Asheboro notes that downtown revitalization is no passive thought. “We tell staff: pick one project and do it,” said City Manager John Ogburn. “Everyone loves a winner.” Public-private partnerships are also scoring wins for the town. 
What's your town up to? Here We Grow makes it easy to tell your economic development stories. It's not just a feelgood initiative; it helps to quantify what cities and towns are doing for the statewide economic health, and it gives you customizable resources. Don't have a login? Email about@ to change that, and check out the wealth of stories at Here We Grow​ now for plenty of inspiration.