Recent Blog Posts

  • Controlling H1N1 Flu in North Carolina

    Authored by: on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

    UPDATE February 28, 2017: This post has been updated to delete links to resources that are no longer available online. The post itself has been retained to provide historical information about the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak, and to serve as an example of how North Carolina communicable disease control law provides for disease control measures during an emerging illness event. 

    You’re no doubt aware that there has been an outbreak of H1N1 flu (formerly called “swine flu”) in North Carolina this summer. To date, 175 state residents have been hospitalized and nine have died from this new strain of flu. Of the 660 cases that were reported to the state’s flu surveillance system between May and August, 587 (nearly 90%) were H1N1. However, because the vast majority of cases are not reported, state health officials estimate that there actually have been between 30,000 and 50,000 cases of H1N1 in North Carolina already. Read more »

  • Impending Local Sales and Use Tax Changes: The Final Phase of Medicaid Funding Reform Legislation

    Authored by: on Monday, August 31st, 2009

    The General Assembly enacted Medicaid funding reform legislation in 2007. The cornerstone of the legislation was the state assuming the counties’ Medicaid costs, but it contained several other provisions that impact counties, municipalities, and local school administrative units—including the repeal of a one-half cent local sales and use tax and the change in allocation method of another one-half cent local sales and use tax. Many of the legislation’s provisions were implemented in phases, over a three-year period. The final provisions become effective as of October 1, 2009. This post briefly summarizes the changes that will occur on that date. (Note that a detailed description of the entire Medicaid funding reform legislation and its impact on local units is available here.) Read more »

  • Who needs a hybrid? Regulation of golf carts on local streets

    Authored by: on Monday, August 31st, 2009

    In recent years, the General Assembly has enacted numerous local acts authorizing dozens of cities and one county to allow and regulate golf cart use on city and county streets. Absent this authority, golf carts cannot be driven on the streets or highways because state law both requires that a vehicle intended to be operated on the highways be registered and prohibits the registration of golf carts. See G.S. 20-50(a); 20-54(8).

    This session, the General Assembly enacted S.L. 2009-459 (H 121), which allows all cities and counties to regulate golf carts. Read more »

  • New Life for Old Development Approvals

    Authored by: on Friday, August 28th, 2009

    UPDATE September 2013: The permit extension law was subsequently extended an additional year. For a review of the extension, click here.  The law has now expired. For a review of the impacts of the expiration, click here.

    One consequence of the depressed economy of the past few years was the demise of previously approved development projects. In many instances the market for potential sales was greatly depressed or necessary financing became impossible to secure. While the development business has always had some permitted projects that never make it to construction, the number of delayed and cancelled development projects rose significantly during the recent recession. The General Assembly decided in 2009 to provide relief to permitees facing the grim prospect of seeing their development approvals expire before a project could get underway. Read more »

  • Rescheduling a Recessed Meeting

    Authored by: on Friday, August 28th, 2009

    UPDATE August 2013: For more on this topic, click here.

    It’s getting late and the board members are tired, so, rather than trying to complete its regular meeting agenda the board votes to recess the meeting until 7:00 p.m. a week later.  A couple of days before the meeting is to resume, however, it becomes clear that several members are not going to be able to attend the recessed portion of the meeting.  The board would like to reschedule the recessed meeting.  Is there any way it can do so? Read more »

  • Animal Shelters: More Changes on the Way

    Authored by: on Thursday, August 27th, 2009

    UPDATE September 2013: In 2013, the General Assembly enacted legislation to shift oversight for some of these sheltering requirements to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. See related blog post here.

    State legislators and regulators have dedicated a lot of time and energy to animal shelters over the last few years. After a rather tumultuous rulemaking process, public shelters are now subject to regulatory oversight by the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. As a result, shelters across the state have been adapting facilities, changing policies and procedures, and seeking required training for staff in an effort come into compliance with the new regulations. But just when they thought that they had it all under control…

    Read more »

  • Public Hearings for Economic Development Incentives: An Unwritten Rule?

    Authored by: on Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

    North Carolina local governments frequently use cash grants as an economic development incentive to lure businesses into their respective jurisdictions. The grants are authorized under the Local Development Act, G.S. 158-7.1 et seq., but a quick read of the statutes might obscure the need for a public hearing prior to approving such incentives. To understand the source of this hearing requirement, you have to look closely at the statute and the case law.

    Those familiar with the Local Development Act are aware of the stringent notice and public hearing requirements for activities related to acquiring, improving, and conveying property authorized by subsection (b) of G.S. 158-7.1, such as constructing and conveying shell buildings, extending utility lines to a facility, and engaging in site preparation. For those enumerated activities, the hearing requirements are clearly spelled out in G.S. 158-7.1(c) and (d).

    But what about an appropriation for a cash incentive to induce a company to bring jobs and capital investment to North Carolina? Some argue that the award of a cash grant is not authorized by the property-related provisions of subsection (b); rather, they suggest that the authority to offer cash incentives is likely derived from the general grant of authority described in G.S. 158-7.1(a), which is a catch-all authorization for economic development appropriations. If that were the case, then a cash incentive would conveniently avoid all of the procedural requirements associated with property-related activities authorized under subsection (b). That argument just doesn’t hold up under closer examination. This post explains why. Read more »