Recent Blog Posts

  • Local Beer and Wine Privilege License Taxes

    Authored by: on Monday, January 30th, 2017

    Sadly the Panthers are not returning to the Super Bowl this year. Despite Cam’s absence from the big game, much of America will still be watching. And drinking. A lot.

    One frequently cited study suggests that over 325 million gallons of beer will be consumed during the big game.  That seems high, as this Asheville newspaper points out. But regardless of the actual total, we know that beer and wine sales soar during the week before the Super Bowl.

    What does this have to do with local governments?  Taxes.  All of those Super Bowl six-packs purchased in North Carolina were sold by retailers that paid local privilege license taxes on their business activities.  Read more »

  • One Oath or Two? What is THE Oath of Office?

    Authored by: on Friday, January 27th, 2017

    Article VI, Section 7 of the North Carolina Constitution instructs anyone elected or appointed to public office in this state to take and subscribe – that is, swear (or affirm) and sign – the oath prescribed therein before entering upon the duties of the office. A number of statutes echo this requirement. For example, G.S. 153A-26 and 160A-61 collectively direct all county and city officeholders to take and subscribe the constitutional oath. The oath is expressly required by several statutes pertaining to designated local government offices, including those of mayor and councilmember (G.S. 160A-68(b)), police chief and police officer (160A-284), tax assessor (105-295), and tax collector (105-349(g)).

    General Statute 11-7 sets out another oath that, according to the statute, must be taken and subscribed by every person elected or appointed to public office in the state. Despite obvious similarities, the wording of the constitutional and statutory oaths is not identical. This blog post considers whether it is really necessary for incoming officeholders to swear and sign both oaths. It also offers a combined version of the two oaths that incoming officeholders could use. Read more »

  • Post-Inauguration Update on the Affordable Care Act and the New FLSA Salary Threshold

    Authored by: on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

    Two of the very first actions taken by President Trump after his January 20 inauguration involved issues of great concern to employers: the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the future of the new U.S. Department of Labor regulation raising the minimum salary required for an employee to be exempt from the overtime requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In his first Executive Order the President declared that it is the policy of his administration to seek prompt repeal of the ACA —  although the Executive Order itself did not make any changes to the ACA statute or regulations. Later that same day, the President directed federal agency heads to postpone by 60 days the effective date of any new regulations scheduled to take effect – which means that the new FLSA minimum salary overtime regulation will certainly not take effect before March 21, even if the temporary injunction restraining their implementation is lifted. It may, of course, never take effect given the change in administrations in Washington. Read more »

  • Legislative Preview: Ideas from the Interim

    Authored by: on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

    This post is co-authored with Christine Wunsche, the Director of the School of Government’s Legislative Reporting Service.

    Tomorrow, January 25, the North Carolina General Assembly returns to Raleigh to begin the business of the new biennium. Here at the School of Government, we are all waiting anxiously to see what bills will be filed in our respective areas of work. While Christine and I would rather not try to predict the topics that will be of interest this year, we can preview some of the bills that have already been drafted and ideas that have been recommended by oversight committees or study commissions. While there is no guarantee that these ideas will make it into actual legislation this session, these types of proposals often garner some interest because legislators and others have invested a significant amount of time in studying the issues involved and crafting solutions. If you want to get a jump start on just a few of the bills or committee recommendations that may surface this session, read on…

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  • 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.”

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  • 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.

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