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League Bulletin

October 26, 2018

WHAT HAPPENED: Early ballot-casting continued across North Carolina at a head-turning pace, though analyses are mixed. 
WHAT IT MEANS: Uncertain. A look this week from the News & Observer said voters here are submitting ballots much like they were in the 2014 midterms, while WRAL quoted sources comparing the activity to a presidential year. In a string of tweets Friday morning, frequently sourced political science professor Dr. Michael Bitzer said early voting in North Carolina was "on pace for a mid-term record." 
ON TAP: The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 5 p.m. Oct. 30. In-person early voting ends at 1 p.m. Nov. 3. Election Day is Nov. 6.
THE SKINNY: Running on sheer numbers, it's difficult to flatly compare voting activity year to year with the varying influential factors, this year including a modified early voting schedule, special statewide items like the six constitutional amendment questions​, and the lack of a U.S. Senate race. Either way, 2018 stands out, with nearly all 170 seats in the General Assembly contested, judicial races receiving a bigger-than-usual share of the public dialogue, and a stirred electorate nationally. Rest assured: this is not the final dispatch on the 2018 mid-terms.

The League’s newly formed Broadband Task Force kicked off its work this week with an initial discussion of the state’s broadband policy. Task force members also learned about legal changes needed to give local governments the ability to build and lease broadband infrastructure as part of a public-private partnership. Several dozen local officials belong to the group, where they serve as strategic advisers and leaders in the effort to bring community-led broadband to North Carolina. For an overview of broadband policy in North Carolina, the League has produced several resources, including this webinar and slide show presentation and a report, “Leaping the Digital Divide.” Contact: Erin Wynia​

Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday signed an executive order to establish a commission to ensure 2020 Census results reflect North Carolina fully and accurately. He also named members, including Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, to the body, called the North Carolina Complete Count Commission. The executive order notes that the decennial headcount will "determine how the federal government distributes $400 billion in funding, including an estimated $16 billion for critical community services, housing, economic development, as well as other needs and services in North Carolina." It adds that "planning, outreach, local government involvement and community education are required to ensure that the census is as accurate as possible." The commission is tasked with, among other things, helping the U.S. Census Bureau recruit North Carolinians to be census workers, developing public and private partnerships that help the cause, and strategizing ways to connect with "historically hard-to-count populations," which may include members of the military, rural residents and non-native English speakers. Joining Mayor Hemminger on the 24-member commission are state legislators and leaders from various public and private entities.

The League of Municipalities continues our fundraising campaign to get help directly to municipal employees who have suffered significant losses in the recent disasters affecting North Carolina. The Hometown Care Disaster Relief Fund will provide grants for municipal employees. To fund it, the League has made an initial donation of $25,000, and is soliciting donations directly from the League’s business partners, other state municipal leagues, and the general public. If you are able, please make a personal donation to the Hometown Care Disaster Relief Fund by clicking here and share the campaign on your social media accounts to better our chances of success. If disaster has affected you and you wish to learn more about the grant program, including information about how to apply for a personal grant, please see our Hometown Care page or contact Michael Naylor at​.

With the General Assembly’s passage of $800 million in additional state hurricane assistance, the Golden LEAF Foundation has been provided $20 million for grants to local governments to repair and replace vehicles, equipment, facilities, and water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. You can find the online application form and information about the program here and answers to frequently asked questions here.

The N.C. Department of Commerce has also announced that the state has received a federal grant to provide temporary employment to address hurricane damage and administration needs as a result of that damage. The grants for those jobs may last up to 12 months, and municipalities are among the entities eligible. There is no match required for organizations that meet eligibility requirements. The department says interested entities can contact their local Workforce Development Board of local NCWorks Career Center to learn more, and also visit

You can also find additional meeting dates for FEMA Public Assistance applicant briefings here, meetings that are considered crucial to receiving information necessary for federal reimbursement for debris removal and emergency protective measures. North Carolina and FEMA are now providing the first temporary housing units to households displaced by Hurricane Florence, and you can find information about that assistance here​.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service is accepting requests for assistance to help communities protect eligible infrastructure such as roads, bridges, housing and businesses from erosion and watershed hazards caused by Hurricane Florence. The deadline to request assistance through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program is Nov. 15. Learn more about the program here.

We're striding closer to one of the League's most important events -- the Advocacy Goals Conference -- and there's still time to register, with a lowered cost. This year, the conference is set for Nov. 29 at the Raleigh Convention Center. Registration is just $35 for the first municipal official and $10 for each additional registrant from the same town. By attending the conference, your municipality will have a voice and a vote as League members discuss and decide upon the issues that are prioritized when talking with state legislators and policy makers in 2019-2020. In order to have the most representative set of advocacy goals, we need as many cities and towns represented as possible. Register today.

Plan to attend the Advocacy Goals Conference not only for the important debate and voting on the issues that the League will prioritize during the upcoming state legislative biennium, but also to learn about available disaster-related resources for immediate recovery needs related to the hurricanes and preparation for future events. Lunchtime keynote speaker will be past National League of Cities president Melodee Colbert-Kean, a member of the Joplin, Mo., City Council and former mayor, who will discuss her city's resiliency after being struck by a devastating tornado in 2011.

The League’s 2018 Municipal Salary Survey is now available. The latest version of this annual survey includes salary information for a wide range of positions from more than 220 municipalities of all sizes across North Carolina. We at the League greatly appreciate all those who took the time to participate in this year’s survey. Results of the survey are free to access for elected officials and many employees of League-member municipalities. To access the survey, follow this link to log in to the League’s website. If you have not yet registered for a password, or have forgotten your existing password, you can address those issues at the above link as well.

Join the League and Duke Energy for a webinar on street lighting strategies and rate updates. This webinar is set for Thursday, Nov. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. and will serve as a continuation of discussions that began after the League in 2013 intervened in the utility’s rate cases before the N.C. Utilities Commission. In addition to offering technical expertise about the new rates for outdoor lighting, Duke’s outdoor lighting team will discuss the process and overview for converting lights to LED and give an update on their small attachment capabilities. For more information and to register, click here​.

North Carolina's top elections official issued an order last Friday to address difficulties that Hurricane Florence might have created for voter participation. Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the state's elections board, put out the emergency order for 28 counties in which Florence left substantial damage. Among provisions, it allows more time in those counties for elections offices to collect ballots, though some normal restrictions still apply. It also gives voters from those areas the ability to return their filled-out ballots to any early voting location in the state, instead of their own county. Click here for the full order (listing all eligible counties) and here​ for complete post-Florence information from the state elections office.