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League Bulletin

November 9, 2018

WHAT HAPPENED: More than 52 percent of North Carolina's registered voters cast ballots in the 2018 midterms that culminated Tuesday, weighing in on races and ballots measures local to federal with unofficial tallies that add up to changes in the political dynamics here.
WHAT IT MEANS: Again, results are unofficial until the canvass, counting of provisional ballots, and settling of any recounts. Some races right now are too close for final words. With so many variables, it could be weeks before we close the books. But as it stands the Republicans will no longer have a supermajority in the General Assembly in the next biennium, giving new weight to the role of the governor.
ON TAP: The current, pre-election legislature is still in effect, and will meet at least one more time -- on Nov. 27 -- before the 2019 class moves in. For that "lame duck" session, General Assembly leaders said they wanted to set legislation on any constitutional amendments voters approved on the ballot. Four of the six proposed amendments passed.
THE SKINNY: A game shift is ahead for our legislature, with different powerplayers, committee chairs and styles of doing business (budgeting included). In the meantime, we applaud this election's incumbents and candidates, regardless of results, for their dedication. More election news follows in this Bulletin.

Eclipsing the 2014 midterm turnout of 44 percent, North Carolina's voters cast more than 3.71 million ballots in the 2018 midterms in what represents at least 52.38 percent of registered voters and record early-voting participation. While this year's ballot lacked popular statewide races like governor and U.S. Senate, it came amid heightened public attention to state and federal politics, a slate of six proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution, and massive ad spending.
The General Assembly's staff has produced unofficial lists of presumed seat-winners for the N.C. House and Senate, whose Republican supermajorities are broken under the current tallies. The breaking of a supermajority generally gives more sticking power to Gov. Roy Cooper's priorities and veto-stamping while legislators in the expanded minority party would expect more room to negotiate bills. Republicans maintain simple majorities in both chambers, with a 66-54 advantage in the House and 29-21 in the Senate by preliminary counts, subject to change amid too-close-to-call results in some districts. Recounts appear possible in six races. Taking these moving parts into account, a League analysis estimates 22-25 percent of the General Assembly overall will be new legislators. That breaks down to 24-30 percent in the Senate and 21-23 percent in the House.
Voters approved four of the six constitutional amendment proposals​. Amendments intended to protect the right to hunt and fish, strengthen victims' rights, cap the income tax rate at 7 percent and require identification to vote all passed by several percentage points. Voters rejected by wide margins amendments dealing with authority over judicial vacancies and the state's board of elections and ethics issues. General Assembly leaders have said they'll focus on legislation related to any greenlit amendments when they reconvene the legislature on Nov. 27 (a session they scheduled several months ago).
At the federal level, neither U.S. senator from North Carolina was due this year, but all congressional seats were, being on a two-year cycle. By the preliminary numbers, Democrats were unable to flip any Republican-held seats in North Carolina, leaving it a 10-3 advantage for the Republicans, although the U.S. House overall experienced a Democratic takeover.
The ballots also featured judicial contests. Voters sent Democrat Anita Earls to the state Supreme Court in a highly watched three-way race while fellow Democrats turned over seats with victories on the state Court of Appeals. 
While even-yeared elections are mostly county to federal, there were a few municipal races on local ballots. Those and all other results are viewable in simple formats with breakout details here.

It's one of the League's most important events, and the deadline to register is right ahead. Sign up by MONDAY, NOV. 12, to attend the 2018 Advocacy Goals Conference scheduled for Nov. 29 at the Raleigh Convention Center. At this event, League members will determine priority issues for cities and towns in the General Assembly's 2019-2020 biennium. Register to attend so you can:
-represent your municipality’s positions and ideas;
-consider important policy issues and learn how cities and towns are affected;
-cast your municipality’s vote for League members’ 2019-2020 legislative goals;
-network with fellow elected and appointed municipal officials.
The conference will feature special guests Gov. Roy Cooper, State Treasurer Dale Folwell and Melodee Colbert-Keen, who was mayor of Joplin, Mo., in 2011 when an EF-5 tornado took the lives of 161 people​. Keen, a past National League of Cities president, brings a close perspective on natural disaster recovery, timely on minds here in North Carolina. 
During the Advocacy Goals Conference, attendees should plan to visit the Disaster Response & Recovery Resource Center next door to the conference ballroom. Disaster preparedness and response is vital to cities and towns, and we want to connect you to the resources you need. Cities and towns face a multitude of potential disasters that demand municipal response, be they hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, fires, or other situations. Make sure your municipality is prepared before disaster strikes. The Disaster Response & Recovery Resource Center will help you know who to call, find out how to plan ahead and ask specific questions of the experts.
Don't wait. Sign up today to attend this important event for North Carolina municipalities.

Sanford and Garner are not only the latest to share their chronicles of economic progress on Here We Grow -- the statewide economic development storytelling site from the League and WRAL TechWire -- they're also repeat storytellers. Every League-member municipality is invited to post as many economic development articles as they wish on Here We Grow, and both Sanford and Garner are taking full advantage. 
Sanford's latest on the site looks at a cooperative endeavor between the city and Chatham County that is expected to serve as an economic development catalyst for the greater region. Garner tells us about Downtown Garner's strong entrepreneurial support and a business incubator that has opened there. “Downtown Garner is uniquely positioned to help creative and tech businesses bridge the gap from small-scale startups to growing companies with a growing workforce,” Downtown Development Manager Mari Howe says in the story.
Here We Grow is all about highlighting what our cities and towns, of any size, are doing to grow their economies, which collectively spell success for the state as a whole. Any League member can use this storytelling tool for free. Just send an email to to obtain login credentials.

Effective this past Monday, the League's Bryan Leaird has a new role with the organization as its Associate Executive Director of Risk Management Services. Leaird, who has been with the League for six-and-a-half years and was immediately prior its Director of Risk Control, will now oversee the daily operations of the League's three insurance pools. "I look forward to working with the League staff and our members as we continue to strengthen these pools that we established to better serve our members," said Leaird, whose pre-League titles included risk control manager for the City of Charlotte and general manager of safety and security for the Charlotte Area Transit System.
In other transitions, this one bittersweet, League General Counsel Kim Hibbard has announced her retirement after just shy of three decades with the organization. Hibbard -- who joined the League in September 1989, has played central roles in innumerable legal accomplishments and has long been known as a dependable resource for our cities and towns -- plans to make it effective at the end of March. "I would like to convey how much I’ve enjoyed my time at the League and my thanks to the many municipal officials I’ve had the opportunity to work with."
Hibbard will be succeeded by current Associate General Counsel John Phelps, who has worked alongside Hibbard since he arrived at the League in 1995. "She is a talented professional with the highest ethical standards who will be greatly missed by the staff, the League Board of Directors, the RMS Trustees and all the representatives of our membership," said Phelps of Hibbard. "I wish her the very best in retirement." Phelps said he considers it the "highest compliment" to have been asked to serve as general counsel. "I look forward to working with our League staff and the elected and appointed officials serving our membership as we continue to promote good government and vibrant cities and towns across the state," he said.
​The League is also proud to announce that Brian Leonard has joined as its newest Associate General Counsel. Leonard is a licensed attorney in North Carolina and Tennessee, with more than 11 years of experience as a practicing attorney and more than four years as an in-house attorney for two of the state's largest municipalities. Prior, he served as Associate General Counsel for the City of Greensboro and Assistant City Attorney for the City of Fayetteville. Leonard has also taught business law courses at Campbell University, North Carolina Wesleyan College, and Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. We're thrilled to welcome him to our staff.
A new grant program administered by Golden LEAF for local governments impacted by Hurricane Florence will come into discussion on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at informative sessions in Pender and Craven counties. The Pender County meeting will begin at 10 a.m. at Burgaw Depot and Event Center, 115 S Dickerson St., Burgaw. The Craven County meeting will begin at 2 p.m. at Craven Community College, Orringer Hall, 800 College Ct., New Bern. General information about the program and application process is available here. Find a copy of the application here.

A live webinar on Thursday, Nov. 15, will inform interested parties about FEMA procurement requirements. "Complying with these federal procurement requirements is absolutely essential to maximizing your opportunity for FEMA reimbursement of your disaster recovery expenses," says an announcement for the webinar, set for 9:30-11:30 a.m. "Failure to follow federal procurement requirements is the #1 reason why local governments are denied FEMA Public Assistance reimbursement." Access the webinar here or call (800) 320-4330 and enter participant code 987582.​

The League's Hometown Care Disaster Relief Fund was created to provide personal grants directly to employees of League-member North Carolina cities and towns who suffered significant uninsured losses from Hurricane Florence and other natural disasters, and your donations to the fund are truly making a difference. The League 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 fund by clicking here.
Please share the campaign on your social media accounts to better our chances of success. While we recognize that this effort will not come close to making up for the sacrifices and losses of these valuable employees, we hope that it helps. We want to be a part of the Hometown Care they deserve. ​​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​​​.

If you've heard about the inaccuracies in the national broadband map from the Federal Communications Commission but don't know the particulars, check out this episode of the League's podcast, Municipal Equation, for a great primer. We hear from experts in different sectors on why it's so important to highlight these inaccuraces, as the map is a basis for policymaking and funding in the quest to connect unserved or underserved areas with the quality internet speeds that are so important to our personal and economic futures.