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League Bulletin

November 16, 2018

WHAT HAPPENED: Elections officials' hard work might've culminated with Election Day, but it didn't end there. They've been sorting out thousands of absentee and provisional ballots that figure in to candidates' final returns, which is partly why we always refer to election-night tallies as "unofficial." 

WHAT IT MEANS: Some races are so close that these ballots could tip the scales (or widen leads​). Media reports are highlighting as many as six General Assembly seats within slim-enough margins​ for recounts.​​

ON TAP: After a Thursday spent readying these collected ballots, certification is expected today, though we still might have to await recount results where requested. At least one recount request is already on file, according to news outlets​.

​THE SKINNY: It's possible that an election-night winner or two will see different results when all is said and done. But the current legislative roster isn't retired. Lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene at noon Nov. 27, with chamber leaders saying they need to pen legislation for the components of state constitutional amendments (like a voter ID requirement) that voters approved this election, and put more focus on hurricane recovery, though lawmakers are not limited to those topics.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger are looking to continue their chamber leadership in the next biennium.  Per election results, Republicans have maintained their majorities in the state House and Senate, and the News & Observer is reporting that Representative Moore and Senator Berger are asking their members to maintain them in the top seats. Majority party members determine their respective leaders each biennium with caucus votes.

North Carolina municipalities could see substantial losses of video programming revenue under a pending federal proposal, the League warned in comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week. If enacted, the FCC proposal would apply current federal rules on local cable franchises to statewide cable franchises like the one in North Carolina. Under such a move, revenues from the current 7 percent state sales and use tax on video programming could see reductions. While the reductions would hit state government's bottom line as well, the League estimated that in fiscal year 2017-18 the FCC proposal would have translated to a $15 million statewide reduction in North Carolina municipalities’ revenues. Also in its comments, the League spoke against counting the value in-kind contributions, such as the costs of providing cable service to each local government building, in further offsetting the amount of video programming revenues intended for municipalities. The National League of Cities opposed this rulemaking​ as well. The next steps for the FCC include reviewing comments on this proposal and considering whether to formally propose the rule. Contact: Erin Wynia​​

Jacksonville Council Member Angelia Washington has a new, national leadership role for municipalities with her election to the National League of Cities (NLC) Board of Directors​. “This is a remarkable accomplishment, and we are proud of her, and the voice that she will add to the national conversation from Jacksonville,” city Mayor Sammy Phillips told local media. The election happened at NLC's annual conference, CitySummit, held this year in Los Angeles. League President and Jacksonville Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lazzara and City Council Member Brian Jackson were also in attendance, according to the city. Council Member Washington is not new to NLC, though -- last year she joined the organization's Council forRace, Equity and Leadership, as covered in the Jan. 12 League Bulletin.
Additionally, Gov. Roy Cooper has appointed Burnsville Town Council Member Helen Proffitt McIntosh to the N.C. Code Officials Qualification Board. This board oversees licensing and discipline of local building inspectors. Council Member McIntosh occupies a seat designated for an elected official of a city with less than 5,000 residents. 

All municipalities should take action now to meet a required Dec. 1 legislative reporting deadline. The reporting requirement, included in HB 379 Recodification Working Group, passed into law in late June and directed all units of local government to create a list of ordinances enforced as a criminal offense -- with a description of that conduct -- and to submit the list to two legislative oversight committees by Dec. 1. While the law did not specify the exact format of the report, UNC School of Government faculty member Trey Allen explained the requirements and offered his thoughts on what the reports could contain in this Coates' Canons blog post​. The post also contains directions on how to submit the reports. Contact: Erin Wynia​

Thanks to your many contributions, the League's Hometown Care Disaster Relief Fund is able to provide personal grants directly to employees of League-member North Carolina cites and towns who suffered significant uninsured losses from Hurricane Florence and other natural disasters. Among contributors, Cavanaugh McDonald Consulting matched dollar-for-dollar the Leagues $25,000 initial funding for the program. We'd also like to thank all contributors to the GoFundMe page the League set up for Hometown Care. If you are able, please make a personal or corporate donation by following that link and share the campaign on your social media accounts to expand our chances of success. For more details, please visit Hometown Care's main page​

The N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) invites all North Carolinians to provide their thoughts about the biggest transportation challenges for our state in a 10-minute online survey that went live this week. The survey also queries respondents on the future of our state’s transportation system, and allows for specific suggestions for your region using an interactive map​. Please fill out the survey yourself, and encourage your colleagues and community members to do the same. The survey results will help NCDOT update its plans and provide a 30-year transportation blueprint for the state. Read more about this effort, dubbed NC Moves 2050, on the initiative’s website​.