Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

League Bulletin

October 25, 2019

WHAT HAPPENED: A lot more than in the past couple weeks -- and some welcomed news in the General Assembly-approved extension of the historic rehabilitation tax credit, so important to the economy, state's history and revitalizations that boost local property values and quality of life. Otherwise, new legislative language came up on various topics, like redistricting reform and smokable hemp (proposed to be outlawed next June), as well as a provision that could boost sales tax revenue for cities and towns.
WHAT IT MEANS: Enough sizable items moved this week, along with board appointments often reserved as session closing duties, to come off as clues that we're truly nearing an end -- granting we've said this in various ways in recent weeks. 
ON TAP: If the 2019 long session really does have a checkered flag on the rise, it doesn't mean an end to all legislative business for the year. We may see an adjournment resolution of sorts that calls lawmakers back to Raleigh for matters hanging out there, whether that's this year or in early 2020, ahead of the legislative short session that usually begins mid-year. The even-numbered-year short session is generally meant for continued consideration of active, leftover bills from the long session as well as budget tweaks -- though recall that we don't have a comprehensive budget in law this year; just a series of approved "mini" budget bills that at this point tally close to what a comprehensive budget would anyway. 
THE SKINNY: You probably have it by now. It's been a much busier week as lawmakers tighten their stares on final priorities, including the historic rehabilitation tax credit they've extended four years. Read on for more updates from the week.

The House and Senate this week moved together on legislation, HB 399​, to continue valuable tax programs like the state's Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (HTC), with an expansion to the mill rehabilitation credit as well. This represents a League goal for the betterment of the economy and job opportunities. Set to time out this coming January under previous legislation, lawmakers have pushed the HTC sunset to January 2024. When approved in legislation, these programs frequently come with expiration dates lawmakers periodically analyze and consider for extension. The chambers ironed out differences in their drafts of the legislation with a conference report this week that won final Senate adoption unanimously before being enrolled. The measure was previously part of the comprehensive state budget that never found approval per disagreements among the legislature and the governor on other, unrelated components. 
Currently in the House Finance Committee after Senate approval this week is SB 557 Various Finance Law Changes​, which includes what could boost sales tax revenues for communities. A section of the bill, titled "Marketplace Facilitators to Collect Sales Tax," obligates online marketplace facilitators (like Etsy and in some cases Amazon, where the seller is a third party going through an online platform) that meet certain threshold requirements to calculate, collect and remit sales tax on third-party sellers' behalf. This follows June 2018's applauded U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc.​, which determined that states can enforce sales tax collection on online retailers that have no physical presence in the state. It was a recognition of the disparity between brick-and-mortar retailers, which have to collect sales tax, and online businesses that, as the court pointed out with its ruling, could undercut on prices and advertise "tax free" sales that brick-and-mortar competitors couldn't. North Carolina began collecting online sales taxes in November 2018; this legislation closes a gap in collection requirements.

In a separate finance measure this week, SB 578,​ is a modification to the state's Film and Entertainment Grant Fund. The bill as of this writing sits in the House Finance Committee after Senate approval Thursday. It would reduce the spending threshold for production companies to qualify for the grants, ideally increasing attractiveness as parts of the state -- like Wilmington, long carrying the nickname "Hollywood East" -- is reportedly​ experiencing its best year of film activity since 2014. The bill also, separately, includes a reduction to the state's corporate franchise tax that isn't likely to track well with the governor's office. 
Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday had announced the creation, by executive order, of what's called the Governor's Advisory Council on Film, Television and Digital Streaming. "North Carolina’s natural beauty, welcoming communities, and local talent make it a perfect home for the film industry,” said Governor Cooper in a press release. “This advisory council will play a critical role in helping the industry flourish, which creates good-paying jobs right here in North Carolina.” Expansion of the film grant program would satisfy another policy goal set by cities and towns ahead of the long session.

Here We Grow, a special initiative of the League with partner WRAL TechWire, is based on the fundamental recognition that when our individual towns and cities thrive, our state collectively thrives. That’s always been the case. Investment by cities and towns in streets, in water and sewer infrastructure, and in parks and other amenities has established the foundation that has allowed businesses to thrive and grow. And it’s those investments that help build upon our outstanding natural resources allowing us to enjoy a great quality of life.
You'll find hours and hours of reading at highlighting specific cities and towns, like the recent piece on Oxford​ and how hot sauce of all things is heating up economic development there. Recently added to, TechWire's feature page about Here We Grow, are thorough stories on communities like Waynesville and Mebane, each explaining their states of growth and how they're managing it for the best of the economy and quality of life. 
Here We Grow is free to League-member cities and towns. Don't miss your chance to become a part of this storytelling engine. Send an email to League Communications Associate Jack Cassidy for information and login credentials.