The N.C. Court of Appeals has issued an order that assures nearly all law enforcement jurisdictions in the state can take action locally against unlawful electronic gaming or video sweepstakes operations. The new order specifically restricts a temporary restraining order (TRO) that came out of Onslow County Superior Court earlier this year favoring an electronic gaming company that was challenging the state's law against video sweepstakes businesses. Although the TRO came out of Onslow County, law enforcement officials across the state believed it tied their hands from enforcement against sweepstakes machines. The Court of Appeals order, entered last Friday, renders the TRO invalid for all jurisdictions not party to the Onslow case, coming as good news for police chiefs and sheriffs who were ready to act on such operations in their jurisdictions but held back per the TRO.
A proposed settlement to an HB2-related lawsuit would order that "transgender people are not prevented from the use of public facilities in accordance with their gender identity." The scope of "public facilities" in the proposal, which Gov. Roy Cooper's office made public on Wednesday, is limited to those in executive branch agencies including the governor's and attorney general's offices. "The Executive Branch Defendants, in their official capacities, and all successors, officers, and employees are hereby permanently enjoined from enforcing Section 2 of H.B. 142 (the bill that replaced HB2 but is still being challenged as discriminatory) to bar, prohibit, block, deter, or impede any transgender individuals from using public facilities under any Executive Branch Defendant’s control or supervision, in accordance with the transgender individual’s gender identity," the proposal states. Media outlets are reporting that the parties who brought the lawsuit are willing to settle on those terms. General Assembly leaders including Sen. Phil Berger spoke out against the proposed settlement.
Governor Cooper also on Wednesday signed an executive order "to promote diversity and prohibit discrimination in government agencies and government contracts in an effort to make North Carolina a welcoming place to all." The executive order pertains to state government, but notes that "it is necessary to provide state and local government actors with clarity and guidance regarding existing laws and policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation...." Section 5 of the executive order affirms "that all counties, municipalities, political subdivisions, local government agencies, and private entities in North Carolina may establish their own policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based upon Prohibited Grounds in employment, the provision of services, and contracting." As it relates to municipalities, internal anti-discrimination policies and contracting, Section 5 of Governor Cooper’s Executive Order largely reiterates and clarifies longstanding law and the changes approved in March.
U.S. senators on Thursday approved an amendment to their budget layout that could jeopardize the state and local tax deduction, or SALT, which has been a central focus between city officials and Capitol Hill in recent weeks. The amendment, put forth by Sen. Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, labels the SALT deduction as a candidate for cutbacks in plans for tax reform, though it doesn't specifically order any changes to it, Route Fifty reported.
The National League of Cities (NLC) quickly reacted. "Local leaders know that SALT prevents double taxation by allowing millions of middle class families to deduct their local property, sales and income taxes, and helps local governments raise the revenues needed to make critical investments in infrastructure, public safety and education," said NLC President Matt Zone. He added: "Any plan that truly claims to grow the American economy must include cities." The National Governors Association also weighed in, calling the amendment disappointing, according to Route Fifty. LINC'ed IN has included calls in recent weeks for local officials to contact their members of Congress to reinforce support for SALT.
Programs are underway now to prepare for the 2020 Census. "The Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program is a once a decade opportunity for local governments to verify the Census address list for their area, and an accurate address list is important to getting Census questionnaires to every household," says an announcement from the State Data Center. Census staff will be holding LUCA training sessions around the state starting next week. Additional sessions are being scheduled as well.
These sessions are free and are aimed at local government staff who may be involved in address verification. The sessions will begin at 9 a.m. and will last a few hours each. If you plan to attend a LUCA training session, please complete the "LUCA Training Notification" document.
Lawmakers returned to Raleigh this week to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of SB 656 Electoral Freedom Act of 2017. The Senate began the override Monday night and the House followed through on Tuesday. LINC'ed IN reported on the bill and its veto last week. The legislation changes the definition of "political party" by reducing the number of signatures needed to form a new one and for unaffiliated candidates to get ballot access eligibility. It also eliminates judicial primaries for the 2018 general election. Governor Cooper reacted to the override in a statement.
After the override, a new, separate bill materialized for a constitutional amendment that would create two-year terms of office for justices and judges. SB 698, filed by Senate Rules Chairman Bill Rabon, is titled "Increase Voter Accountability of Judges." News outlets have captured some of what legislators are saying about the proposal.
Officials are invited to comment on the 2018 Annual Action Plan draft and Substantial Amendment draft of the 2016-2020 Consolidated Plan, both of which are now on the N.C. Department of Commerce State Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) website. An Oct. 13 announcement from the department says: "The Substantial Amendment is adding the Neighborhood Revitalization as a third category to the CDBG Program. Comments concerning the 2018 Annual Action Plan and Substantial Amendment can be made anytime during the next 30 days."
CDBG funds are available to local governments for projects to enhance the vitality of communities by providing decent housing and suitable living environments and expanding economic opportunities. These grants, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, primarily serve persons of low- and moderate- incomes.
Read the new issue
The new issue of Southern City magazine gives a closer look at two of North Carolina's longserving elected officials. On the cover is Zebulon Mayor and Immediate Past President of the League Bob Matheny, who discusses his first spark of interest in municipal office four decades ago, the changes he's seen in his town over the years, and his philosophies on growth and a government that connects well with residents. Sen. Angela Bryant is this issue's featured legislator. She outlines her life of service, past time on the Rocky Mount City Council, challenges she's weathering as a lawmaker now in her sixth term, and inspiration to carry on. There's plenty more to read in the new Southern City, a bimonthly publication from the League. It's an important advocacy and learning tool for municipal officials and the general public alike.