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NCACC Legislative Bulletin
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House, Senate delaying action on State budget

While some discussions on parts of the state budget are underway in non-public meetings, for the most part the House and Senate are not actively negotiating differences between their versions. Finance Committee chairs are debating some of the proposed tax changes, and Health and Human Service Committee chairs are hashing out Medicaid reform, but it appears other variations in the two budgets remain as they were at the end of last fiscal year. One month into the new fiscal year, final numbers revealed a $445 million surplus from last year, giving lawmakers some breathing room as they plan the current year’s budget.

The full House Appropriations Committee is holding a series of public comment meetings on its budget, hearing from various stakeholders on their priorities. NCACC advocacy staff spoke at this week’s meeting on the importance to counties of funding for mental health, driver's education, broadband access in schools, and economic development incentives.

With the anticipation that various senators and representatives will soon begin budget deliberations, your government relations staff is meeting with Appropriations Committee chairs and others to advocate for outcomes that achieve Association goals or otherwise are advantageous to counties. As you are speaking to your legislators, please encourage them to support the following items of importance to counties in the budget:
  • Lower fee increases for medical examiner and autopsy fees;
  • Additional funding for mental health programs, particularly for additional crisis behavioral health beds across the state;
  • Full funding for driver's education;
  • Film incentives and historic preservation tax credits.

PSAP bill goes to conference committee

The NCACC advocacy team continues to talk with the sponsors of H512 (Amend/Clarify Back-up PSAP Requirements) regarding the counties’ concerns about the added costs associated with being required to provide 911 dispatch services for municipalities. Last week, the House voted not to concur with the Senate version of the bill, and a conference committee has been appointed to negotiate a compromise.

If your county would be negatively impacted by the current language of H512, please contact these members to share your concerns.

Robeson County sales tax bill passes House finance

A local bill in the House Finance Committee generated great discussion on the need for local revenue options as well as the need for additional school construction resources. On Thursday, the House Finance Committee approved H394 (Increase Options for Local Option Sales Tax), which gives Robeson County flexibility to use its existing Article 43 quarter-cent sales tax, which is restricted to transit, for school construction instead. Voters in the county must approve the tax by referendum prior to enactment.

NCACC staff spoke in committee in favor of the concept, highlighting the need for local flexibility. Many legislators echoed Association arguments expressing support for this option and the desire to expand the issue beyond Robeson County. The bill was approved on a voice vote and goes to the House floor next. The NCACC would like to thank House Finance Co-Chairs Rep. William Brawley (Mecklenburg) and Rep. Jason Saine (Lincoln) for bringing this issue up in the committee, and Rep. Ken Goodman (Richmond) and Rep. Mike Hager (Rutherford) for speaking favorably on this issue.

House approves bill to eliminate CRVs for misdemeanants

The House gave final approval this week to a bill that would eliminate confinements in response to a violation (CRVs) of conditions of probation for misdemeanants sentenced under Structured Sentencing. One of the issues addressed by the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) was the inordinate number of revoked probationers that are admitted to prison each year. Under JRA, a defendant on probation for a misdemeanor conviction may be sentenced to a confinement of up to 90 consecutive days for a probation violation that is not a new criminal offense or absconding from probation. If the amount of time left on the defendant’s sentence is 90 days or less, the CRV will be for the remaining period of the sentence.

In accordance with the Justice Reinvestment Act, a CRV must be imposed for the first two probation violations committed by the offender, and revocation will only occur after the defendant has served two CRVs. Sentences for misdemeanor convictions are typically less than 90 days, and CRVs for misdemeanor probation violations will often consume the entire period remaining on the defendant’s sentence, which is tantamount to a revocation. Because misdemeanor sentences are currently served in county jails, CRVs for misdemeanants could significantly strain county resources.

As recommended by the N.C. Sentencing and Policy Advisory Committee, S183 (Eliminate CRVs for Misdemeanants) does away with CRVs for misdemeanor offenders sentenced under Structured Sentencing. In lieu of CRVs, the bill requires 2 to 3 day periods of confinement for not more than 6 days per month for up to 3 months. These confinement periods, known as “quick dips,” shall be imposed for the first two violations, excluding new offenses and absconding from probation, and only after serving two quick dips will a defendant’s probation be revoked.

The bill passed the House on Wednesday and is awaiting approval by Gov. Pat McCrory.

Other bills of interest to counties

  • S332 (Register of Deeds-POA Indexing Fees) would impose an additional fee of $2 for each entity listed in an instrument that contains excessive recording data, which is defined as an instrument that includes more than 20 distinct entities. A debt instrument involving a securitized trust pool often includes an attachment listing hundreds of "trusts" that may have a limited power of attorney with the lending institution. It is often difficult for the register of deeds to determine whether these names must be indexed, and the process can be very tedious and time consuming. If the register of deeds concludes that the names must be indexed, he or she must charge the additional fee, and the presenter of the instrument may not waive the indexing requirement. S332 passed the House Judiciary II Committee this week and has serial referrals to Finance and Rules, respectively.
  • S386 (Register of Deeds/UCC Recording Fees) would specify the fee amounts for filing instruments covered by the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) with Registers of Deeds. The UCC regulates the recording of security agreements in which a financial loan is secured by collateral. S386 removes the cross-reference to the UCC in Chapter 161, which governs the Office of the Register of Deeds, and specifically sets out the fees that apply to services related to financial statements. The bill reported favorably out of House Finance this week and will likely go to the House floor early next week.
  • S273 (Motor Vehicle Tax: Waive Penalties/Interest) gives county commissioners the authority to waive penalties and interest accrued on delinquent motor vehicle taxes. Commissioners must provide a list of reasons for the waiver, and the authority would only apply to penalties and interest accrued for taxable years prior to July 1, 2013. The legislation was approved by the House Finance Committee this week without opposition, but members did express a desire to make technical and clarifying changes on the floor. The bill is scheduled on the House floor for Monday, Aug. 3.

This Week at the General Assembly

This Week at the General Assembly was not produced this week. Visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/ncacc1908 or our website to view This Week at the General Assembly.

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