Today @NCCapitol (March 26): Cities chafe at bills curbing their power
Posted March 26, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Tuesday, March 26. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.
FIRST UP: The House Finance Committee meets at 8:30 a.m. today. The committee is scheduled to hear the bill that would allow Charlotte to use local taxes to fund upgrades to the Bank of America stadium in Charlotte where the NFL's Panthers play. The committee is also due to hear a measure that would repeal a 2009 law allowing the city to use 5 percent of its water revenues for infrastructure related to water repairs, like fixing torn-up streets and sidewalks. More on the Asheville bill below.
HOUSE TODAY: The full House is scheduled to take up a bill that would make concealed handgun permit information exempt from the state's public records law. North Carolina is one of seven states where such information is currently public.
The House is also scheduled to take up a bill dealing with how much supervision nurse anesthetists need when they practice.
Wake lawmakers hear from public on Dix, school board SENATE TODAY: The Senate is due to vote on a bill that would dissolve the lease for the Dorothea Dix property between the state and the city. Lawmakers in the Wake County delegation got an earful from backers of the park Monday evening, who turned out to a public hearing. WRAL.com will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
CITIES: Local governments around the state are eying action at the legislature warily say some lawmakers and advocates for cities.
The Asheville bill in House Finance this morning, for example, will hurt the city's efforts to finish the Azalea Rd project, which is a soccer complex east of Asheville, said Rep. Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe. She sponsored the 2009 measure that allowed for water system money to be put toward the effort.
"It is not a consensus bill – it is another effort by Rep Moffitt to govern Asheville from Raleigh, and it has to do with this longstanding opinion – not currently based in reality – that the city of Asheville is using water revenue to support its general budget, which is not true," Fisher said.
Fisher says it's representative of legislation seeking to curb cities' power across the state.
"It's just a very threatening atmosphere for cities," she said.
Letters from a bond lawyer and the state Treasurer's office raise questions about another bill that would move the Charlotte Douglas International Airport from the city's control and put it in the hands of a regional authority.
"Furthermore, we believe such legislation could have an impact on the North Carolina municipal bond market," wrote Deputy State Treasurer Vance Holloman Monday. "The fact that a North Carolina local government issuer of bonds has lost ownership and control of the asset as a result of General Assembly action would have to be disclosed in the official statement of any future revenue bond offerings. This disclosure could affect the cost of borrowing and desirability of North Carolina revenue bonds."
That potential impact on revenue bonds would give cities across the state a dog in the airport authority fight.
In a brief conversation Monday night, Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, that airport bill's primary sponsor, said that he had not thoroughly reviewed the two letters. However, he said one from outside bond counsel "just raises a lot of questions" rather than states anything definitively. And he said that Holloman's warning didn't seem to jibe with the letter from outside counsel.
Still, the Asheville and Charlotte bills along with other measures, such a bill condemning a lease between the state and City of Raleigh for the Dorothea Dix property, fit a pattern that local officials are beginning to take notice of, said Ellis Hankins, executive director of the N.C. League of Municipalities.
"It is fair to say that some municipal elected officials in different cities around the state are beginning to wonder whether there's reason for concern about proposed actions of the General Assembly having an impact on North Carolina's reputation for strong public finance," Hankins said.
COMMITTEES: For a full listing of committees scheduled for today, check the @NCCapitol home page. Among the highlights:
House Education (10 a.m. | LB 643): The committee is due to hear the "Back to Basics" bill, which would require elementary school students be taught cursive handwriting and the multiplication tables. WRAL.com will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
Senate Judiciary I (10 a.m. | LOB 1027): The committee is scheduled to deal with bills to restart the death penalty in North Carolina and to make it easier for certain midwives to practice in the state.
House Transportation (Noon | LB 643): Committee leaders anticipate taking a vote on a bill that would repeal the requirement that motorcycle riders over age 21 wear a helmet. WRAL.com will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
Senate Finance (1 p.m. | LOB 1027): The committee takes up SB 159, which would force counties to reassess property values if an "independent review" by an independent appraisal firm shows appraised commercial and home tax values assessed from 2008-12 don't reflect actual current market value.
EDUCATION BEAT: Some parents of home school students are wary of a proposal that would give them an income tax credit. "Most of us know that, along with government money, comes government regulation," said Nikki Esquivel, who has taught her children for 15 years.
Meanwhile, parents of Wake County public school students told lawmakers to leave school construction funding as it is. Filed by Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, Senate Bill 236 would give ownership and control of Wake County school buildings to the Wake County Board of Commissioners. Currently, the Wake County Board of Education has ownership and oversight.
BERGER: "In a four-minute-long voicemail for the StarNews left at 11:38 p.m. Friday night, New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger responded to Chairman Woody White’s call for his resignation," the paper reported today.
LICENSES: As of 5 p.m. Monday, the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles had processed 314 applications for licenses from those qualified under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, according to a news release. Monday "was the first day North Carolina completed issuances to young people approved by a federal program that grants temporary deferments on deportation for a limited period, usually for not more than two years to some immigrants brought to the U.S. as children," the release said.