Recent Blog Posts

  • The Governor’s Role in the Legislative Process

    Authored by: on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

    Today the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) convenes for the 2017-18 biennium.  With a Democrat as Governor and a strong Republican majority in the legislature, I have been reflecting on the dynamic that emerged when our state was in a similar situation in 2011-12.  During that session, Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed a record 19 bills and the legislature voted to override 11 of her vetoes. By comparison, the combined number of bills vetoed by other Governors is 16, and only 5 of those were overriden. Many will be waiting to see if the state experiences a comparable political “conversation” between the legislative and executive branches this coming session.

    This blog post answers some frequently asked questions about the Governor’s authority to take action on legislation ratified by the legislature. It also includes details about subscribing to or renewing your subscription to the School’s Legislative Reporting Service and a link to a fantastic new online learning tool called “How to Read a Bill.”

    Read more »

  • Property Taxes on Internet Sweepstakes

    Authored by: on Monday, January 9th, 2017

    One of my favorite movies turns 30 this year.  I love “The Untouchables” because it’s loaded with big stars (Costner, Connery, DeNiro), teaches key life lessons (don’t bring a knife to a gun fight) and–most importantly from my geeky perspective–taxes play a prominent role in the plot.  In the movie as in real life, gangster boss Al Capone is eventually imprisoned not for smuggling, extortion, or murder, but for income tax evasion.

    Why am I talking about Al Capone and his tax problems? Because internet sweepstakes parlors seem to be making a comeback in North Carolina. And the dubious legality of those businesses raises important questions about a local government’s authority to tax illegal activity. Read more »

  • Local Acts Relating to Health and Sanitation: Supreme Court Weighs in On Asheville and Boone Cases

    Authored by: on Thursday, January 5th, 2017

    Article VII, sec. 1 of the North Carolina Constitution gives the General Assembly almost unlimited power to create local governments, and to define, expand, and limit their authority. Does this power allow the legislature, by local act, to require the city of Asheville to transfer its water system to a newly formed water and sewer authority? The North Carolina Supreme Court has said it does not. Does it permit the legislature, by local act, to eliminate the town of Boone’s authority to exercise regulatory powers outside the town limits? The North Carolina Supreme Court has said it does. Both opinions involve interpretations of Article II, sec. 24(1)(a) of the North Carolina constitution, which prohibits local acts relating to health, sanitation, and the abatement of nuisances.

    Read more »

  • 2016 Disaster Recovery Relief – Special Session Legislative Update

    Authored by: on Thursday, December 15th, 2016

    During this week’s special legislative session called by gubernatorial proclamation, the General Assembly enacted legislation appropriating funds and authorizing programs to provide disaster relief to individuals, businesses, and local governments impacted by natural disasters that have stuck North Carolina this fall.  Beginning with Tropical Storm Hermine in early September, followed three weeks later by Tropical Storm Julia, and then with Hurricane Matthew striking just two weeks after that, eastern North Carolina was pummeled by winds, rain, and heavy flooding which in some areas equaled or exceeded that of Hurricane Floyd in 1999.  While the east was still watching flood waters subside, wildfires ravaged areas in the western part of our state.  Sixty-six counties were covered under a gubernatorial emergency declaration in Hurricane Matthew with 49 of those counties covered under a , and 47 counties were covered under a gubernatorial emergency declaration for the western wildfires.  In response to the devastating impact of these natural disasters, the General Assembly enacted the Disaster Recovery Act of 2016.  The act was approved unanimously by both the House and the Senate and signed by the Governor.  This post summarizes the appropriations and programs authorized under the act.

    Read more »

  • Reshaping Suburban Spaces

    Authored by: on Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

    There is no constant in community. Population ebbs and flows; market preferences shift; the economy fluctuates. Each community evolves. In many suburban places across North Carolina—indeed, across the U.S.—that evolution includes a move toward more density, more mixed uses, and more connected neighborhoods. Communities are grappling with questions about how these places will change. What is the local government’s role in this transition? How does a city or county encourage the redevelopment of suburban spaces? And what are the practical and political implications?

    A new School of Government report, Reshaping Suburban Spaces, considers these questions and explores how communities across North Carolina are responding. Read more »

  • Refunding Other Taxes and Fees

    Authored by: on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

    Time for a pop quiz: G.S. 105-381 governs refunds and releases (aka waivers) of which of these local government taxes and fees?

    A.  Property taxes.

    B.  Occupancy taxes.

    C.  Solid waste fees.

    D.  Water & sewer fees.

    E.  All of the above.

    The answer is . . . Read more »

  • The Future of the Affordable Care Act and the Future of My Guide to the ACA

    Authored by: on Thursday, December 1st, 2016

    As some readers know, I have been working on a guide to the Affordable Care Act for local government employers for the last year. That book manuscript was set to go to the printer on November 17th – the week after the presidential election. With the November 8th election of Donald Trump as President and of a majority-Republican United States Congress, the question naturally arises: what will happen to the Affordable Care Act? After all, both Mr. Trump and Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal the ACA. Must employers still observe the ACA’s employer mandate and file information reports on compliance with the employer mandate with the IRS in 2017? For myself and for the School of Government, an additional question arose: should we proceed with the publication of a book about a law that may shortly be repealed? To learn more about what might happen to the ACA and when, and about how to access my book manuscript while the ACA is still in effect, read on. Read more »