The legislature continued its rapid pace of the last few weeks before wrapping up on Thursday morning. Hundreds of bills were heard in both chambers ahead of the Thursday’s crossover deadline. Bill filings continued in the House, with a number of bills filed related to NCACC’s top legislative priority of expanding broadband access to underserved areas. Find below a list of bills that completed the crossover deadline, as well as new filings in the House.
House Bill 561: Local Confinement Facility Inspection Appeals
— allows a governing body, as well as sheriff or other administrator of a local confinement facility, to contest findings in a Department of Health and Human Services report of the facility. Current law only allows a report to be contested by a governing body when DHHS has ordered a corrective action or closure. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration. Please share any concerns you have on this change with NCACC.
House Bill 729: Charter Schools Omnibus
— allows counties to make direct capital appropriations to charter schools and authorizes counties to levy property taxes for these purposes. The bill passed the House this week. NCACC backed an amendment to remove the concerning provision from the bill, which was proposed on the floor but procedural movements prevented a vote on the amendment. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. NCACC urges you to contact your Senator(s) and let them know your concerns with the legislation.
House Bill 821: Award Atty. Fees in Certain Land Use Cases
— requires the award of reasonable attorneys' fees and costs to the prevailing party in cases in which the county is a party and found by the court to act against a prevailing party in a manner inconsistent with the provisions of its comprehensive zoning plan. The bill passed the House Judiciary 1 Committee this week and now heads to the House Local Government — Land Use, Planning, and Development Committee further consideration. NCACC recommends you share this legislation with your county attorney(s) for additional feedback.
Bills of Note
House Bill 218: Streamline Permits/Redevelopment of Property
— requires counties that implement water supply watershed protection programs to allow an applicant to exceed the allowable density under the jurisdiction's applicable water supply watershed rules under certain circumstances. The legislation also prohibits a county from considering a building footprint expansion of up to 20% of a site plan modification if certain criteria are met. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 291: Commercial Prop. Plan Rev./DOI Oversight
— requires local governments to review and issue building permit decisions on certain commercial and multifamily building plans within 21 days of submission, or within 15 days of receiving additional requested information or resubmitted plans. The bill also authorizes local governments and a building permit applicant to use an NC Department of Insurance qualified code enforcement officer, or contract with a third-party engineering firm, to perform initial plan reviews under certain circumstances. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 489: 2021 Building Code and Dev. Reg. Reform
— makes changes to the general contractor licensing process, as well as to laws pertaining to local governments' ability to regulate erosion. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 496: Property Owners' Rights/Tree Ordinances
— prohibits local governments from adopting ordinances that prohibit the removal of trees from private property. To do so, the local government would need express authority from a general or local law. Ordinances regulating the removal of trees from private property would be repealed if they are not already authorized by a local act or an express authorization of the General Assembly. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 664: County Service Districts/Early Childhood Ed.
— authorizes counties to establish service districts to finance early education programs. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 704: Local Option Sales Tax Flexibility
— modifies the existing Article 46 local option sales tax so that it may be levied at a rate of either 1/4 or 1/2 cent, and allows counties to specify on the ballot the use of the tax-for either any of the options listed in current property tax statutes or general purpose. The legislation aligns with NCACC's long-standing goals to expand the existing local revenue base of counties and authorize local option revenue sources already given to any other jurisdiction, to all counties, as well as allow counties to specify the use of a sales tax levy on the ballot. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 712: Preservation of Workforce Housing
— prohibits local governments that use conditional districts from imposing any conditions or standards on permit approvals other than those specifically authorized, if the development for which the permit is sought contains affordable housing units for families or individuals with incomes below eighty percent (80%) of the area median income. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 738: Recodification of Criminal Laws
— convenes a working group of legislators charged with gathering information from stakeholders, including NCACC, to make recommendations to the General Assembly regarding a streamlined, comprehensive, orderly, and principled criminal code that includes all common law, statutory, regulatory, and ordinance crimes. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration. NCACC supports House Bill 738 as a more measured approach to this issue than that found in Senate Bill 455
(Decriminalize Non-Statutory Offenses) and Senate Bill 300
(Criminal Justice Reform) which have both passed the Senate.
House Bill 794: Allow Schools in All Zoning Districts
— designates schools, including charter and private schools, as a permitted use in all zoning districts. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 797: Delegate Tax Overpayment Refund
— authorizes a county board of commissioners to delegate to the county manager, the county finance officer, or both the ability to grant a refund of an overpayment of the deed stamp tax. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 806: Study Water and Sewer Infrastructure
— directs the NC Department of Environmental Quality and the NC Local Government Commission to study specified matters related to water and sewer infrastructure and report those findings by March 1, 2022. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 812: Clarify Remote Meetings During Emergencies
— amends current law to clarify that a public body may take action during a remote meeting if it allows for submissions of written comments on the subject of the public hearing between the required meeting notice and 24 hours prior to the noticed time for the hearing. The bill also allows a public body that has issued notice for an in-person meeting to amend the notice to make the meeting a remote meeting up to six hours before the noticed time for the in-person meeting. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration. NCACC supports this legislation.
House Bill 813: Prohibit State Agencies Payment of Ransomware
— prohibits a state or local government entity from paying an entity engaged in a cybersecurity hack and clarifies which government entities are required to report to the NC Department of Information Technology. The bill has passed the House and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 820: Construction Contract Changes
— makes changes to the design-build statutes and makes other changes related to construction contracts. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 829: 160D Technical Correction
— clarifies that the limits on the ability of a local government to adopt or enforce regulations restricting private residential real property rentals are not limited to regulations under a local government's building code or minimum housing code. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 885: Modernize Sewer Overflow Notification
— requires the owner/operator of any waste treatment facility to provide notice to the local health director for the county in which a discharge occurred and to provide notice to customers of the wastewater collection or treatment facility or other interested parties by posting notice on the website of the system owner or operator. The bill passed the House and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 911: Regulatory Reform 2.0
— prohibits a local government from adopting ordinances requiring that an owner or manager of a rental property maintain any permit to lease or rent the property unless the property has received significant violations of ordinances in the last year. The legislation has been filed and referred to the House Regulatory Reform Committee.
House Bill 934: Student Success Program
— appropriates $170 million from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund to mitigate the impact of learning loss due to COVID-19. The bill was filed and referred to the Education K-12 Committee.
House Bill 947: The G.R.E.A.T Broadband Expansion Act
— expands the G.R.E.A.T program in a number of ways. Of particular interest to counties is a provision establishing the Completing Access to Broadband Fund, which allows counties to request funding for either a defined eligible project area that is mutually identified by the county and the NC Department of Information Technology, or for a project that was not awarded a grant in the most recent round of grant awards. Priority is given to counties that have utilized DIT's Community Broadband Planning Playbook and meet certain other criteria. The legislation would also allow counties to leverage American Rescue Plan funds to use for broadband projects. The bill has been filed and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Public Utilities.
House Bill 950: Expand Broadband-Unserved/Underserved Areas
— establishes the $25 million County Broadband Development Fund and authorizes counties to coordinate with a qualified private provider in the state to expand broadband service to unserved households, and establishes a bidding process to contract with a qualified private provider. The bill also allows counties to initiate a bid process with a qualified private provider and specifies required elements of an application by a qualified private provider, including a detailed outline of the project. The bill has been filed and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Public Utilities.
Senate Bill 265: Bond Information Transparency
— requires local governments to disclose certain information to voters prior to issuing general obligation bonds. Information would be filed with the NC Local Government Commission, as well as the clerk of the board of the issuing entity, and posted online, but information would not appear on the ballot. In addition, the bill allows the LGC to withhold sales tax distributions if an entity has not filed an audit with the LGC. The withholding would be 150% of the cost of an audit. Upon an entity's filing of the audit, the funds would be returned. NCACC is opposed to this provision and looks forward to working with the State Treasurer on a compromise. The bill has passed the Senate and now heads to the House for further consideration.
Senate Bill 453: Modernize ABC Controls
— allows a county to adopt an ordinance authorizing its ABC stores to accept an online order for alcoholic beverages sold in the stores. The bill passed the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee this week but did not receive a vote by the full Senate.
Following the announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week, the NC Department of Health and Human Services
amended the statewide Standing Order to authorize health care providers to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine through an Emergency Use Authorization to adolescents ages 12 through 15.
Governor Cooper issued two Executive Orders this week extending previous authorizations for remote shareholder and nonprofit meetings
and to allow regulatory flexibility for vaccination efforts
. He also issued Executive Order 213
declaring a state of emergency due to the unanticipated shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline and Executive Order 215 lifting certain COVID-19 restrictions.
The Office of Recovery Programs in the US Department of the Treasury released this week an Interim Final Rule and accompanying guidance
for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. See the links below for more information. Counties should visit the newly-created Submission Portal
to request funds directly from Treasury.
The NCACC COVID-19 Revenue and Budget Report
(April 2021) reviews how the COVID-19 public health pandemic has impacted primary sources of local government finance over the past year, and how counties have responded through fiscal planning and budgeting.
‘Creating Emotionally Healthy Workplaces’ Recap
NCACC hosted an interactive virtual session on May 12 with Leisha DeHart-Davis, Director of the Local Government Workplaces Initiative at the UNC School of Government, on Creating Emotionally Healthy Workplaces. Professor DeHart-Davis shared insight into recognizing personal stressors, organizational stressors and signs of burnout; and how to support the mental health of employees who may be struggling with pandemic-related issues.
If you would like to view the recording of the session, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
LGFCU Excellence in Innovation Awards Application Deadline Extended
The 2021 Excellence in Innovation Awards program is now accepting applications. In addition to the ongoing work taking place across county disciplines, special consideration will be given this year to COVID-19 response efforts. Click HERE
for more information on the awards program. Award applications are due, May 21, 2021.