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League Bulletin

December 11, 2015

Gov. Pat McCrory says the passage of a long-term federal highway bill will help in the development of two high-priority transportation corridors in North Carolina. President Obama on Friday signed into law the $305 billion transportation spending plan, which will fund federal highway construction through 2021. The law's passage came after Congress reached a breakthrough in early November on transportation spending, signaling that a final agreement was likely. The agreement followed several years in which Congress could pass only short-term transportation fixes that state and local governments criticized for making long-term road planning difficult.

Governor McCrory said two major future interstate projects will benefit from the long-term federal commitment: the development of a Raleigh-to-Norfolk interstate corridor utilizing some portions of U.S. 17 and U.S. 64 and running through Rocky Mount, Williamston and Elizabeth City; and turning the existing U.S. 70 corridor from Goldsboro to Morehead City into an interstate-quality highway. Read previous League coverage about the federal highway bill here. Read media coverage about the passage of the bill here and here.   

House Speaker Tim Moore has announced the formation of a study committee to more closely examine transportation funding issues, including those surrounding the development of toll lanes on Interstate 77 near Charlotte. The 20-member House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and Long Term Funding Solutions will hold its initial meeting next Tuesday. Rep. John Torbett of Stanley is chair of the committee. The planned toll lanes on Interstate 77 and the elected officials who supported them have been criticized by opposition groups and residents in recent months.

Local government members of the 911 Board urged cities and towns this week to submit their required plans for back-up 911 call centers, or public safety answering points (PSAPs). A 2014 law requires all primary PSAPs to either construct back-up capabilities or enter into contracts with neighboring 911 centers for back-up capabilities. If a local government does not comply with this mandate by July 1, it risks losing its 911 fund disbursements. This week, the municipal representative on the 911 Board, Cornelius Assistant Town Manager Andrew Grant, noted that many local governments had not yet submitted plans to the board. He pointed local units with questions to 911 Board staff members Tina Bone (919) 754-6111 or David Dodd (919) 754-6625. Importantly, cities with primary PSAPs should be aware that the legislature passed into law this year a law that would give primary PSAPs a one-year extension to build out their back-up capabilities, if that city submitted a back-up plan to the 911 Board and was preparing to put it in effect. The League supported this effort to assist municipalities in complying with this new state mandate. Contact: Erin Wynia

UNC-Charlotte economist John Connaughton is predicting a relatively good year for the North Carolina economy in 2016. In his economic forecast issued this week, Connaughton projects "modest growth" and "a stable new year." His projections call for inflation-adjusted growth of 2.5 percent for the state's economy in 2016. He does say that the aging labor market may be causing long-term growth to slow. Read the full report here.

The candidate filing period for 2016 state offices continued this week, and former state Rep. Robert Brawley made the biggest splash with his unexpected decision to challenge Gov. Pat McCrory in the March GOP primary. Brawley, who is from Mooresville, served in the state House in the 1980s and 1990s, and then returned for a single term in 2013. He was defeated in a primary in 2014 after feuding with former House Speaker Tom Tillis and other House leaders.

The week's filings also saw state Sen. Buck Newton, a Wilson Republican, file to run for state attorney general one week after his Democratic Senate colleague, Sen. Josh Stein of Raleigh, filed for the office. Find a full list of candidate filings here, on the state Board of Elections website. Read media coverage of Brawley's primary challenge of the governor here.

The League's Legal Department has compiled a summary of select legislation enacted by the General Assembly during the 2015 session, continuing to assist cities and towns in understanding changes to state laws that might affect them. The Summary of Legislation, found here, includes the effective dates of the legislation, brief descriptions, and all Session Law references. It also denotes bills that should be carefully reviewed because of their particular effects on municipalities.
The General Assembly staff recently compiled and released a list of bills eligible for consideration in 2016 legislative "short session." The list, found here, is not comprehensive. It includes only those that passed one legislative chamber but not the other. Those bills met the so-called crossover deadline. However, the document also provides a full explanation regarding other types of bills filed in 2015 that may be eligible for consideration in 2016, as well as other types of new bills that might be considered.