Gov. Roy Cooper this week declared a state of emergency for all 100 counties as Hurricane Irma churned toward the U.S. "There is a lot we still don’t know about this storm, but we do know that North Carolina can expect to feel some sort of effects as soon as early next week, and now is the time to get prepared," the governor said in a press release. The National Weather Service is updating its public advisories steadily online with the latest details.
The state of emergency went into effect at 8 p.m. Thursday, and officials urged preparation in all regions of the state. According to the press release, state transportation crews will be ready to address issues in their purview. State emergency management officials also advise the public to follow their Twitter and Facebook accounts for up-to-the-moment info. Real-time traffic and weather information is additionally available on the ReadyNC mobile app. More about the state-of-emergency is in Executive Orders No. 20 and 21.
More than $6 million in grants for local parks and recreation projects were announced this week. The money, helping 22 projects across the state, comes through the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. "I am proud that our Parks and Recreation Trust Fund is able to support these local projects to strengthen communities," Gov. Roy Cooper said in a Thursday press release, which noted that state grant officials considered 60 applications in all. "These projects are shining examples of how we can make the most out of our communities," State Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi Hamilton said. "From small towns to big cities, these projects will create new opportunities for us all to connect with our fellow North Carolinians." The press release has the full list of grant recipients.
The Insider State Government News Service reported on Friday that about 20,000 drones are now registered in North Carolina, mostly to hobbyists and with the remaining smidge in use for commercial or government purposes. Local governments are still imagining uses for drones, which was partly the focus of a forum that the League held late last year (video) with state and municipal officials. Additionally, the League's podcast took on the topic, with an in-depth look at the National League of Cities' guide for local governments on drone policy and applications. Local governments that operate their own drones include the Town of Manteo, which has dispatched the aircraft in situations like storm aftermaths and quick damage assessments.
Just one bill was pending on the governor's desk as of Friday morning, according to the legislature's online index. That was HB 56 Amend Environmental Laws, which received final House and Senate approval last week. The bill included a few items of interest to local governments, such as the establishment of a coastal storm damage mitigation fund, a riparian buffer tax exclusion, clarification of setback determination for permitted disposal systems, and a GenX water response, among other things, as reported in last week's LINC'ed IN.
The legislative chambers may send more bills to the governor after they reconvene on Oct. 4. A blog post by Rep. Chuck McGrady provides perspective about the October session, which he noted could include constitutional amendments, overrides of vetoes and additional redistricting work.
The U.S. House on Wednesday passed the HR 3388 SELF DRIVE Act, a bill meant to make information on highly automated driving systems available to prospective buyers. The National League of Cities (NLC) responded with the following statement:
"City leaders welcome the promise of safer roads and reduced congestion that autonomous vehicles (AV) can offer our communities. As AV legislation advances, we call on Congress to ensure a safe and effective rollout of AVs on city streets. Cities have been the testing ground for this technology, and local leaders remain committed to ensuring that AVs are integrated onto our roads in a safe and timely manner.”
The NLC released a report earlier this year on AV technology's implications for cities and their governments. Findings from that report are discussed on Episode 24 of Municipal Equation, the League's biweekly podcast.
Hurricane Harvey's devastation in Texas could temporarily impact funds in the Hurricane Matthew relief pipeline. The State Port Pilot newspaper of Southport this week reported that local government emergency managers received word that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was restricting funds that had been marked for Matthew recovery efforts amid the focus in Texas. The restriction is temporary, the newspaper reported.