Legislature files dozens of bills in first days
by Anna Oakes
The N.C. General Assembly short session convened May 14, and legislators quickly began moving on a number of bills, including legislation that met the crossover deadline in 2013.
The Legislature is expected to act swiftly on bills to adjourn the short session in just a few weeks. Following are a few of the bills filed last week. The Legislature will also consider and pass an appropriations bill amending the two-year state budget enacted in 2013.
House Bill 1050: Omnibus Tax Law Changes
House Bill 1050, "Omnibus Tax Law Changes," would make several amendments to North Carolina's tax laws following last year's reforms. A proposed $100 cap on local business privilege licenses would impact the revenue streams of the state's cities and towns.
Legislative staff estimate the cap could cost cities up to $25 million, but the N.C. League of Municipalities believes losses could be higher.
S729: Governor's Coal Ash Action Plan
As expected, the Legislature filed legislation outlining a plan to close or convert the state's 33 coal ash ponds. Gov. Pat McCrory last month presented draft legislation with his proposal to address coal ash handling, but Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Hendersonville), co-sponsor of Senate Bill 729, told media that the governor's plan does not go far enough.
In February, a broken pipe released an estimated 39,000 tons of coal ash and millions of gallons of coal basin water into the Dan River.
S739: Amend Hotel Carbon Monoxide Alarm Requirement
Sen. Dan Soucek of Boone is a co-sponsor of a bill, Senate Bill 739, that would amend the carbon monoxide alarm requirement for hotels that the General Assembly passed last year. The proposed changes specifies that lodging facilities subject to the law include extended-stay tourist homes and bed and breakfast inns and modifies the required locations of alarms to be dwelling or sleeping units instead of every enclosed space with a fossil fuel-burning heater.
The legislation also allows for a carbon monoxide detection system to be used in lieu of the electrically wired units required by the 2013 law.
The General Assembly enacted the regulations last year after three people were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in the Best Western hotel in Boone.
H150: Zoning & Aesthetic Controls
The Legislature last week returned to a bill introduced in 2013, House Bill 150, that would restrict local governments' ability to set design and aesthetic standards for single-family and two-family (duplex) residential structures.
Boone Planning & Inspections Director Bill Bailey said last year that the town has very few regulations related to single-family structures.