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League Bulletin

October 4, 2019

​WHAT HAPPENED: While observers kept eyes on budget possibilities in the Senate -- remember the House's recent budget-veto override vote​ that caught many by surprise -- this week's conversation fell more on any remaining priority bills and standalone spending authorizations, the latter per North Carolina's ongoing lack of an approved-and-signed state budget. "There's no sense holding those things up because of an unrelated disagreement on the budget overall," Senate leader Phil Berger said at a press conference. Next week, he said, is less certain but could involve long days.
WHAT IT MEANS: The General Assembly began the 2019 long session on Jan. 30. We've said before that some weeks had felt like wind-downs on legislative activity. Now, in October, with moves on those "mini" budget bills to fund programs or projects around the state, some top lawmakers indicate they're ready, to some degree, to turn off the lights and call it a day. There's still some work on the table in the meantime. 
ON TAP: Adjournment? Senator Berger said he wants to close down his chamber by Oct. 31. That doesn't preclude reconvenings, though, as some big-ticket items like redistricting and Medicaid hang in the air.
THE SKINNY: General Assembly leaders may discuss the road ahead over the weekend, deciding or at least working toward understanding what the final priorities will be. Bills still in play right now that don't meet the cut aren't immediately doomed, as the 2020 continuation of legislation business -- known as the short session -- will begin in the spring. Read on for more of this week's activity.

It wasn't a flurry, of course, but bills did advance through the legislature this week. HB 387 Growing GREAT (previously titled "Electric Co-Op Rural Broadband Services"), is one of those "mini" budget bills expanding the GREAT program to Tier 2 counties, though local governments remain ineligible for the funds, meant to expand broadband opportunities. The bill passed the Senate and went to the House for concurrence. HB 100 DOT Budget for 2019-2020 Biennium represents another budget move, which this week also passed the Senate and awaits House concurrence. HB 283 Conner's Law would increase the penalty for assaulting a law enforcement officer or emergency personnel, and also would provide an additional death benefit for public safety employees murdered in the line of duty. As of this writing, the bill was on the governor's desk. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger are discussing other bills of importance that may need action before the long session ends and, according to their comments and media reports, may bring about some long days of voting next week. 
Meanwhile, to address some outstanding issues, the House this week made additions to the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources agency bill when considering it this week. SB 433 DNCR Omnibus & Other Changes​ now includes provisions of interest related to providing emergency operating funds for utilities, clarifications of the uses and reimbursement procedures for certain coastal storm funding, and inventorying fire retardant foam. The utility provisions tweak the process to provide emergency funds when a water or wastewater utility is operating at a deficit that became law last week in SB 691 Emergency Operating Funds for Utilities and incorporate the emergency operating funds concept as an additional use of the Viable Utility Reserve fund (if it becomes law). The Viable Utility Reserve fund passed the General Assembly in two vetoed bills (HB 966 2019 Appropriations Act and SB 553 Regulatory Reform Act of 2019), would provide grants to assist utilities in becoming self-sustaining and merge, and was result of a yearlong legislative study that focused on the more than $17 billion of water and sewer infrastructure needs statewide. (A previous edition​ of this Bulletin has coverage.) SB 433 also directs the N.C. Policy Collaboratory to inventory certain fire retardant foam used by local government fire departments and to create a process for collecting and disposing of the foam that is no longer in use. Fire retardant foams have been linked to the presence of certain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS chemicals) found in drinking water supplies. SB 433 passed the House this week and still needs to be taken up by the Senate for concurrence. 

The League has released its most recent Quarterly Revenue Report, available in an interactive Microsoft PowerBI format, as well as PDF. As always, both are housed on​ the League’s website. The latest report includes state-collected local revenues received by local governments for the fourth quarter of the 2018-2019 fiscal year, as well as a recap of the entire year’s trends. The state-collected local revenues included are local option sales and use taxes, utility sales taxes (on electricity, piped natural gas, telecommunications, and local video programming), beer and wine excise tax, and solid waste disposal tax. Direct questions to League Research Strategist Caitlin Saunders​ or Director of Research Chris Nida​.
Governor Roy Cooper announced a spate of  appointments to state boards and commissions this week, with Wilmington Mayor Pro Tem and League Board of Directors Member Magaret Haynes among them. Haynes will fill an at-large seat on the body that keeps a focus on economic development and education via arts for all. Governor Cooper also annouced to the Arts Council the appointment of Edward P. Norvell, who vice-chairs the Salisbury Public Art Committee. Eric J. Lindstrom, a Cumberland County-based architect who has "personally worked on transforming numerous historic buildings in downtown Fayetteville," was also appointed, a press release said. See the complete list of appointments online​

​Cities and towns are stacking up at Here We Grow, the local economic-development storytelling platform from the League and partner WRAL TechWire. Look for one from the Town of Sedalia​ about its longterm redesign project that changes pass-through travelers into visitors. Said Serita Faison, member of the planning board, “We want when people come through to want to hang around. And we want the people of our town to be comfortable coming out.” Other new reading at covers the road to bustling activity in Halifax; how Blowing Rock is future-minded on infrastructure; and satisfying local demand for more recreational opportunities in Pleasant Garden. There's a lot of inspiration at Here We Grow right now in chronicling how cities and towns are making meaningful investments that help the economy and quality of life. Join the movement today; send an email to or​ for login credentials. Haven't told your town's story yet? Here We Grow has a statewide audience and is important for showing communities' collective impact.

​Grammy Award-winning artist Common and cities-focused author Peter Kageyama are booked to keynote this year's City Summit​, the National League of Cities' annual conference that draws local government officials and supporters from across the country for a better tomorrow. It's set for Nov. 20-23 in San Antonio, Texas.  "The conference will offer local officials education for professional development, discussions on common challenges and new trends affecting cities and proven best practices that will improve local communities," says NLC. "Exclusive to NLC’s fall conference, mobile workshops offer city leaders a chance to see the success of peers during guided tours of noteworthy municipal projects." You can learn more about the 100-plus educational sessions and networking opportunities, and so much more, at Registration is open​.