NCACC Legislative Bulletin
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June 17, 2016
New version of land use regulatory bill released by Senate

Earlier this week, the Senate released a new version of H483 (Land-Use Regulatory Changes). The House introduced and passed some of these provisions last session within a short period of time to meet the crossover deadline; however, the bill did not move again until it was scheduled in Senate Judiciary I, emerging with additional changes this week. This bill would make wide-ranging, complex changes to land-use regulatory statutes that would limit county authority.

The bill is complex and we encourage you to work with your local experts to understand specific impacts in your county; however, a number of sections to note include: 
  • Sections 1 and 2 broaden current law governing vested rights and limit when changes to county ordinances are enforceable against developments. Broadly, this would allow developers to lock in existing land-use regulations once the first phase of a development begins regardless of how long it takes to finish.
  • Section 3 would allow challengers to skip appeals to a Board of Adjustment and go directly to court where they can rely on an expanded list of permissible defenses.
  • Section 7 would require, rather than allow, legal costs to be paid by the county if the court finds the county violated a statute or case law that clearly limited county authority. Later in Section 7, the bill specifies that legal costs may go to the winning private party in all other matters.
  • As counties work to address development challenges such as stranded subdivision roads, sections 8 and 9 would shift performance guarantee decision making and cost setting to developers, limiting county ability to recover costs for substandard or unsafe infrastructure.
The Senate’s proposed changes to H483 were briefly discussed on Tuesday in Senate Judiciary I before they ran out of time and rescheduled the bill for Thursday’s committee. However, the bill was again rescheduled until the next Judiciary I meeting on Tuesday, June 21st, after which it would go to Senate Commerce. The Association encourages members to contact your legislative delegation to express concerns with this bill.

Regulatory reform bill passed House floor

The House’s annual regulatory reform bill, S303 (Regulatory Reform Act of 2016), passed the House floor 109-0 on Thursday.  It was pulled from the calendar on Wednesday and referred back to the Regulatory Reform Committee to make a handful of substantive changes, including a few addressing county issues in the bill. Sections 2.5 and 2.6, in particular, would have impacted county land-use regulatory authority.

Section 2.5 originally exempted subdivision ordinances from applying in certain cases including a five acre lot divided up to three times. The redrafted version of the bill limits the use of this provision to once every 10-years and would still require certain zoning, ingress and egress regulations to be met.

Section 2.6 originally set a three year statute of limitations on enforcing land use violations that can be seen from a public right of way or are in plain view of the public, and would not endanger public health or safety. The amended bill sets a three year statute of limitations on violations that are known by the county government or have been reported to the county. It would set a six year statute of limitations on violations that can be seen by the public and are not hazardous to public health or safety.

S303 was approved by the House and has not yet been referred to a Senate committee for consideration.

Budget negotiations underway, county priorities highlighted

Budget negotiations between the House and Senate are well underway, and NCACC has identified several items in controversy of interest to counties. We have shared our position on the below items with both area-specific appropriations committee chairs and with the leaders of the full appropriations committees in both chambers. All signs point to a compromise budget becoming public late next week.
  • $30 million to fund recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Abuse
  • $25 million from the sale of Dorothea Dix  for a pilot to assist hospitals in constructing more behavioral health beds in rural counties
  • $1 million in planning funds for regional medical examiner prototype buildings in Forsyth, Buncombe, Pitt and New Hanover counties
  • $300,000 to create seven new positions in DHHS to help counties improve Medicaid application processing timeliness through data analysis, guidance and performance development
  • Assessment of school construction needs in LEAs with the lowest ability to pay and the highest needs in relation to capacity to raise revenue; establish a $50M Lottery Reserve fund for use pending outcome of study
  • Increase cap on lottery advertising from 1% to 2% of annual revenues
  • $3.8 million for state water and wastewater infrastructure grants for rural and economically distressed areas

Progress made on school board lawsuits goal

The Association’s goal to repeal the statute allowing local boards of education to sue county commission boards made some limited progress this week. A local bill placing a one-year moratorium on such lawsuits in Union County has passed both the House and the Senate. Since local bills do not require the Governor’s signature, S881 will become law as soon as it is ratified in both chambers. Another local bill, S382, became law this week. It modifies the previous changes to school administrative units in Nash and Edgecombe counties, including placing a 10-year moratorium on lawsuits in Nash County.

Your NCACC staff continue to have conversations about addressing the local school budget dispute resolution process at a statewide level. H561 is still in conference, and we hope to reach compromise on language allowing that bill to pass in some form before the end of the 2017 legislative session.
Bill to monitor lottery winnings of FNS benefits recipients

H1047 passed the House on June 16 and will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.

The bill would require the NC Lottery Commission to provide identifying information on lottery winners who win $2,250 dollars or more to the Department of Health and Human Services. DHHS would then be required to review and crosscheck this information with applicants for recipients of FNS benefits. If applicants or recipients have not reported lottery winnings of more than $2,250, DHHS is required to conduct a more extensive review to determine if fraud has taken place. 

The bill also directs the Legislative Research Commission to study limiting or disqualifying lottery winners or recipients of any other noncash, in-kind or other benefit from receiving FNS benefits.

Additionally, H1047 establishes disqualification periods for recipients who do not comply with work requirements.  There would be a three-month disqualification for the first violation; a six-month disqualification for the second and a permanent disqualification for the third violation. 

Houses passed local government assessments bill, goes back to Senate for review

The House passed S363 (Local Government Assessments) this week. The legislation authorizes local governments to fund critical infrastructure projects with funds from private developers, then issue assessments to benefited property owners to reimburse the private party. The types of projects allowed would be the same as local governments currently may fund through financing repaid by assessments. A public hearing is required before assessment would be allowed. The bill now goes back to the Senate for agreement on the House changes.

Other bills of interest

  • S575 (NC/SC Original Boundary Conformation) passed the House 101-11 on Thursday and was sent to the Governor for his consideration. North Carolina and South Carolina created a Joint Boundary Commission in 1995 to determine the exact boundary between the two states. As a result of its work, 19 homes and four businesses are impacted by a change in jurisdiction. The reestablished boundary goes through 54 homes and buildings. The bill allows property owners in N.C. who are now located in S.C. to continue sending their children to public or charter schools if they wish, among other accommodations.
  • H1035 (LGC/Training for Local Gov't Finance Officers) authorizes the Local Government Commission to require local finance officers and any local employee with finance duties to attend formal training if the commission determines a need, particularly if the local government has received a deficiency letter from the commission. The bill passed the House 112-0 on Monday evening and was referred to the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee.
  • S734 (Statewide Standing Order/Opioid Antagonist) authorizes the State Health Director to prescribe an opioid overdose inhibitor by a statewide standing order. This order makes it easier for a person to obtain naloxone hydrochloride from a pharmacy if that person believes a family member, friend or other person may be at risk of overdosing. These inhibitors block the effects of opioids thereby preventing overdoses and saving lives. The House approved the bill 112-0 on Monday evening and the Senate concurred with the House’s revisions 48-0 on Wednesday. The bill now goes to the Governor for his consideration.

This Week at the General Assembly

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