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NCACC Legislative Brief
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Week of March 27- Summary of Proposed Legislation Potentially Impacting Counties

NCACC Temporarily Relocates to Offices on East Six Forks Road, Raleigh
This week, NCACC moved into its new temporary office space located at 353 East Six Forks Road in Raleigh. NCACC staff formerly located at the Quorum Center and the Albert Coates Local Government Center will now be co-located at the temporary office for the next year. We are in the process of getting settled and working through internet and phone connectivity issues, and apologize for any delay in responding to emails or phone calls. We appreciate your continued patience as we work toward becoming fully operational. NCACC is grateful for the support from the NC Medical Society, which is providing work space to our Government Relations Team, allowing them to remain in close proximity to the General Assembly during the legislative session.   
NCACC and NCSBA Present on School Facility Needs at General Assembly
This week, Johanna Reese, NCACC’s Director of Government Relations, and Richard Bostic of the North Carolina School Boards Association presented on public school facility needs to the House Appropriations Committee on Capital. The associations discussed their similar legislative priorities regarding additional revenue to address the staggering backlog of school construction, renovation, and maintenance projects and recommended a significant one-time infusion of funding in the form of a statewide bond, along with the establishment of dedicated funding streams so that districts have ongoing access to school capital funds from state and local sources. Several options proposed for reliable funding streams included returning the lottery allocation for school construction to 40% and authorizing more local option sales taxes for school construction. 
Bill to Restore Funds for Public School Construction (HB 481)
This week, HB 481 was introduced to distribute funds from the North Carolina Education Lottery for public school facilities. The bill would direct 40% of the revenue from the lottery to the Public School Building Capital Fund, and 50% would support reduction of class size in early education and pre-k programs for at-risk four-year olds. In addition, the bill directs 50% of revenues in excess of projections to school capital. This bill addresses NCACC’s top priority legislative goal. 
  • NCACC thanks Rep. Jamie Boles and Rep. Allen McNeill for their sponsorship and urges members to advocate for increased lottery revenue for school capital needs.
Bill to Issue $1.9 Billion Bond For School Facilities (SB 542)
Sen. Jerry Tillman, former Orange County commissioner Sen. Valerie Foushee, and Sen. Rick Gunn filed SB 542, which would provide, subject to approval by voters, the issuance of a $1.9 billion bond for public school facilities through grants to counties.  The formula for the distribution of funds takes into consideration ADM as well as “low wealth” and “small-county” designations. The legislation supports NCACC’s top priority legislative goal to provide additional revenue for school capital.
  • NCACC thanks Senators Tillman, Foushee and Gunn for their sponsorship and urges members to advocate for this bill.
Legislation Introduced to Expand Community Health Services (HB 536 / SB 424)
This week, legislation was introduced in both chambers, HB 536/SB 424, which would appropriate $2 million for a competitive grant program for two new facility-based mental health centers for children and adolescents, and $6.5 million for statewide expansion of the community paramedicine pilot program. The legislation also includes $225,000 to continue 13 community paramedic mobile crisis management program sites. The legislation seeks to improve access to behavioral health treatment facilities while reducing the use of emergency departments, and satisfies a major NCACC health and human services goal.
  • NCACC supports HB 536/SB 424 and thanks the House and Senate sponsors.
Legislation Introduced to Provide Medicaid Reimbursement for Transporting Patients to Mental Health Centers (HB 477 / SB 383)
On March 23, legislation was introduced in both chambers, HB 477/SB 383, to require the NC Department of Health and Human Services to make any necessary adjustments to establish Medicaid reimbursement for ambulance transports of Medicaid patients to behavioral health centers.  This legislation would support the work of county paramedics helping to reduce the use of emergency departments and improve access to behavioral health treatment facilities, and it satisfies a key NCACC health and human services legislative goal. 
  • NCACC supports HB 536/SB 424 and thanks its House and Senate sponsors.  
House Committee Passes Bills to Provide School Calendar Flexibility (HB 375, 389)
On March 28, the House Committee on Education – K-12 approved HB 375 and HB 389, which would provide some flexibility to adjust school calendars at the local level. HB 375 allows local boards of education to align school systems calendars to community college schedules. HB 389 would establish a pilot to assess the success of providing school calendar flexibility. The pilot would include 40 counties, giving local school administrative units the flexibility to determine starting and closing dates. The success of the pilot would be assessed by evaluating student achievement and summer internships. HB 389 would also seek to identify and quantify the communities that can support local school calendar control and those that cannot. HB 375 and HB 389 are consistent with an NCACC public education goal.
  • NCACC supports HB 375, which would achieve an Association public education goal, and supports HB 389.
Property Tax Relief Bill Passes House with Additional Changes (HB 2)
On March 29, the House passed a revised version of this session’s HB 2, which provides property tax relief for disabled veterans and surviving spouses of first responders. NCACC expressed concern that the lost revenue could hinder counties’ ability to meet their financial obligations. Earlier changes to the bill added a “hold harmless” provision, which allows counties to recover from the state lost revenue resulting from the tax relief mandated in the bill. The bill was amended again before passing the House to change the provision related to the exclusion of property value from an unlimited amount to a $100,000 cap. The bill goes to the Senate next.
  • NCACC thanks the bill’s sponsor for considering how it would impact counties and urges Senators to retain the “hold harmless” provision. 
Senate Bill Introduced to Address Longstanding County Legal Issue (SB 531)
On March 29, a bill to prevent school boards from suing counties was introduced in the Senate. SB 531 is identical to HB 305, which was introduced in the House earlier this month. The legislation would repeal the statutory authority to file suit against counties and would establish a procedure for resolving disputes between the board of education and board of county commissioners. Currently, a local school board has the statutory authority to file legal action challenging the sufficiency of funds appropriated by the board of commissioners. NCACC is concerned that the legal fees incurred as a result of these disputes takes resources away from students. Therefore, NCACC supports efforts to reverse adversarial dynamics between boards of county commissioners and schools. The Program Evaluation Division is working on a study of this process.
  • SB 531 is consistent with NCACC’s public education legislative goals and members are urged to seek support for this legislation.  NCACC thanks Senator Tommy Tucker, former county commissioner, and Senator Bill Rabon for their sponsorship.
Bill to Allow Separation Buyouts for Law Enforcement Passes House Committee (HB 284)
On March 30, the House Committee on Pensions and Retirement passed HB 284, which would allow separation buyouts for law enforcement officers and permit transfers under the special retirement allowance to be paid in whole or in part with employer contributions. It would also allow law enforcement officers who are members of the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System (TSERS) and the Local Governmental Employees Retirement System (LGERS) to retire with 25 years of creditable service. The bill now goes to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration.
House Committee Passes Bill Addressing Firefighter and Rescue Worker Retirement Benefits (HB 340)
On March 29, the House Committee on Pensions and Retirement passed HB 340, which would create a special allowance for firefighters and rescue squad workers. The original version of the bill applied to only firefighters, whereas the version passed by the committee would also include rescue squad workers. NCACC is working with the Treasurer’s office to determine cost to counties. The bill now goes to the House Committee on State and Local Government II.

Other Bills of Interest to Counties

  • Building Condemnation Bill Introduced in House (HB 530)
    • On March 28, HB 530 was introduced in the House, which would grant counties the same authorities as cities to condemn unsafe buildings.
  • Bill to Limit Use of Public Enterprise Funds Introduced in House (HB 503)
    • On March 29, HB 503 was introduced in the House, which would limit the use of public enterprise funds. 
  • Legislation Introduced to Limit County Zoning Authority (HB 507/SB 575)
    • This week, legislation was introduced in both chambers to limit county authority in establishing zoning regulations. This legislation is similar to a land use bill opposed by NCACC last session. HB 507/SB 575 would limit the applicability of zoning changes to multi-phase developments, allow developers to go directly to court challenging zoning decisions and changes, and would allow development to continue while challenges are pending.
  • NCACC Opposes Legal Notices Bill Filed in Senate (SB 435)
    • On March 28, SB 435 was introduced in the Senate, which would maintain the requirement for counties to advertise legal notices in local newspapers. 
      • NCACC opposes SB 435
  • Senate Bill Introduced That Would Ease Administrative Burden for Counties (SB 497)
    • On March 29, Senators Don Davis and Louis Pate introduced SB 497, which would streamline the process for non-profits to claim their sales tax exemption. This bill would help with sales tax administration for counties.
      • NCACC supports SB 497 and thanks Senators Davis and Pate for their sponsorship.
  • Senate Bill Introduced to Change Appeals Process for Property Valuations (SB 363)
    • On March 22, legislation was introduced in the Senate to change the appeals process for property valuations. The bill, SB 363, which updates the Machinery Act, would require Boards of Equalization & Review to accept a property valuation provided by a certified real estate appraiser chosen by the property owner during a hearing, rather than the county’s valuation.  Furthermore, it would mandate that subsequent appeals to the Property Tax Commission involve a property valuation from a certified appraiser mutually selected by the county and the property owner. The bill creates problems of equity and process for counties and property owners and significantly changes the current appraisal and appeal processes.
      • NCACC opposes SB 363 and urges members to relay county concerns to your Senators.
         

REGISTER TODAY FOR COUNTY EVENTS!


2017 District Meetings (April)
Throughout the month of April, NCACC will host a series of District Meetings throughout the state, which offer county commissioners and management staff the opportunity to discuss with other county officials and NCACC staff any issues impacting their counties.  This event is for county commissioners and staff, and there is no charge.  Each meeting is held from 5:30-8:00 p.m. and includes dinner.

You may view the schedule of 2017 District Meetings and register to attend HERE.

County Assembly Day (May 10)
On May 10, the NCACC is sponsoring its annual County Assembly Day to provide North Carolina county officials an opportunity to meet with state elected officials and hear from state leaders on key issues.  This event is for county commissioners and staff, and there is no charge.

Register to attend County Assembly Day HERE.
 

North Carolina Counties' Five Priority Goals

  1. Seek legislation to establish a new state-county partnership to address statewide public school capital challenges--including but not limited to maintenance, renovation, construction and debt--through a dedicated, stable funding stream that is consistent from county to county and sufficient to meet the school facility needs of all 100 counties.
  2. Seek legislation to repeal the statutory authority under N.C. Gen. Stat. 115C-431(c) that allows a local school board to file suit against a county board of commissioners over county appropriations for education.
  3. Support efforts to preserve and expand the existing local revenue base of counties, and oppose efforts to divert to the state fees or taxes currently allocated to the counties to the state. Oppose efforts to erode existing county revenue streams and authorize local option revenue sources already given to any other jurisdiction.
  4. Support increased state funding for transportation construction and maintenance needs, and support legislation to ensure that the STI funding formula recognizes that one size does not fit all and that projects in both rural and urban areas are prioritized and funded.
  5. Support legislation and funding to raise the Age of Juvenile Jurisdiction from 16 to 18 with the exception of felony crimes.

Go to www.ncacc.org/legislativegoals to review North Carolina counties’ complete 2017-18 legislative agenda.

Click here to view the latest episode of This Week at the General Assembly, the NCACC's made for government television show on legislation affecting county governments in the North Carolina General Assembly. 
Copyright © 2017 North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, All rights reserved.


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