WHAT HAPPENED: The General Assembly on All Hallows' Eve adjourned the 2019 long session. Well, sort of.
The House and Senate this week approved separate bills designed to provide additional disaster relief to communities and residents affected by recent hurricanes, but ultimately were unable to settle differences and agreed to do so through conference committee negotiations.
The House proposal, HB 1023 Storm Recovery Act of 2019, would have provided $280 million for a range of disaster recovery needs, tapping the state’s Rainy Day Reserves for the money. The Senate, using a previously unrelated House bill as its vehicle for additional disaster dollars, HB 200 2019 Storm Recovery Act, directed that the money come from the state’s existing General Fund and mostly focused on providing matching funds for federal dollars. That bill would appropriate $132 million to match federal grants and provide additional dollars for road repairs. The bill includes another $20 million for rural health care, but is contingent on overriding a veto of the state budget bill.
House and Senate negotiators could reach a compromise and then approve that legislation on Nov. 13, when the General Assembly is slated to briefly reconvene.
The end-of-session flurries included bills of interest to cites and towns, covering online sales tax collections and a more competitive film grant program. The chambers sent the governor SB 557 Various Finance Law Changes on Oct. 31, with it language that would increase sales tax collections, and subsequently the revenue for local governments, as sales taxes would apply to more online purchases and accommodates bookings. (A potential tripping point for the bill came with an added provision — ultimately removed and passed without it — to tax vaping products.)
Meanwhile, SB 578 Reduce Franchise Tax/Expand Film Grants found approval, though the bill’s corporate franchise tax cut was not popular with the chambers’ Democrats and may face a veto from the governor. The second piece of the bill, to boost the state’s film grant program, is supported by cities and towns as it aligns with an advocacy goal they set before the session got underway. Last week’s Bulletin has background on both items.
The League’s 2019 Municipal Salary Survey is now available. The latest version of this annual survey includes salary information for a wide range of positions from 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.
Kay Hagan, a former state lawmaker and later North Carolina’s first female Democratic senator, has died at age 66.
“She made it a mission to inspire young people - especially young girls - to enter public service, and she served as a role model to so many,” said Gov. Roy Cooper in an Oct. 28 statement upon her passing.
Past political opponent U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis said he was “absolutely heartbroken by Senator Kay Hagan’s sudden passing and we extend our condolences and prayers to her loving family and many friends. We join all North Carolinians in remembering her dedicated and distinguished record of public service to our state and nation.” Hagan’s family said in a statement: “We already miss her humor and spirit as the hub of our family, a role she loved more than anything. Nobody could light up a room and make people feel welcome like Kay.” News reports and tributes have the details.