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League Bulletin

November 1, 2019

​WHAT HAPPENED: The General Assembly on All Hallows' Eve adjourned the 2019 long session. Well, sort of.

WHAT IT MEANS: It came with a number of final pushes on legislation, including sexual assault law reforms to present to the governor, and without an override of his state budget veto.​ Legislators also approved measures on online sales tax collections (a plus for local government revenues) and expansion to the state’s film grants. Other measures, like a technical corrections bill considered at the end, did not make it through. Neither did a disaster recovery bill that saw the chambers unaligned on spending, but it could get more attention soon.

ON TAP: It may not have that finale feel, as legislators are slated to return in a couple weeks, on Nov. 13, and per the adjournment resolution​ will be able to take up remaining business in work on conference reports, though congressional redistricting is meant to be the main focus.

THE SKINNY: It’ll be January before we know it, and the General Assembly is set to return then as well in a session (not to be confused with the short session to begin later in 2020) eyeing conference reports, veto overrides and more, including possibly attention to N.C. Department of Transportation funding issue. On a side note, we hope you enjoyed your Halloween. Read on for more treats.

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 adde​​d 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.  

Join the League and Duke Energy for a webinar on street lighting strategies and rate updates. This webinar will be held on Thursday, Nov. 18, from 1 to 3:30 p.m​. and continues discussions that began after the League intervened in the utility’s rate cases before the N.C. Utilities Commission in 2013 and 2017.

This an opportunity for League members and Duke Energy Outdoor Lighting to discuss outdoor lighting rate updates, process and overview for converting lights to LED, any upcoming projects (including small attachment capabilities), and address any questions municipal customers may have.

For more information and to register, click here.