The never-ending session

A special thank you to our outstanding lobbying team, led by Chief Lobbyist, Cady Thomas, for a great and successful 2019 session. The summary below was compiled by one of our contract firms, Focus Public Affairs.

The General Assembly’s long session got off to a slow start in January as members and lobbyists alike acclimated to the Republican’s loss of supermajorities in the 2018 election and a large class of freshmen.

The loss of the supermajorities in both the House and Senate increased Governor Cooper’s bargaining power with the legislative branch. Though budget negotiations halted over Medicaid expansion, Democrats, Republicans, and Governor Cooper worked together on many bills introduced this legislative session. Medicaid expansion remains at the center of the partisan standoff over the budget which was vetoed on June 28, 2019.

The House successfully overrode Governor Cooper’s budget veto on September 11. The Senate placed the override vote on the calendar during the final days of the legislative session in 2019 and ultimately recessed for the year without taking an override vote.

When members returned for a three-day session in November, their main focus was congressional redistricting. The three-judge panel that ruled the legislative maps unconstitutional also ruled that the NC congressional maps could not be used for the 2020 election. The court did not give a time frame for completion; however, the General Assembly took action early as to not affect the candidate filing period in December potentially offsetting the primary. These redrawn maps were approved by the court.

So, what happened to NC REALTORS’ tracked legislation?

Our outstanding Lobbying Team has closely monitored problematic legislation and successfully worked to keep it at bay throughout the session. In total, the team tracked more than 350 bills. Though a significant portion of them were classified as monitoring, we chose to focus heavily proactive engagements, while standing ready to address issues which took aim at REALTOR priorities.

Below is a quick run through of just some of the bills that we followed this year. Prior to the conclusion of the legislative biennium next year, we will complete a comprehensive review of all of the pieces of legislation that we followed.

2019-2020 NC REALTORS Legislative Priorities

Association Health Plans—PASSED

                SB 86/HB 464 – Small Business Health Care Act

Allows for the creation of Association Health Plans in North Carolina

Private Roads—PASSED

                HB 620/SB 480- Street Database/Manual/Public Record Except

Requires NCDOT to compile a readily available “Public Street Information Database” by January 1, 2020, which would be updated monthly and convey information regarding the status of federally owned roads, State-owned and maintained roads with a State road number assigned.

Historic Preservation Tax Credits—PASSED

HB 399 – Historic Preservation Act of 2019. Disaster Area Bldg Rehab Tax Credit

Extends the sunset of the existing Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit from January 1, 2020, to January 1, 2024

Economic Development—PASSED

Funding for the Job Development and Infrastructure Grant (JDIG) and One NC programs in funding proposals.

SB 466 – EDPNC Modification

Revises the contract requirements to no more than three years. Eliminates the fundraising requirements and instead allows EDPNC to receive funds from fund-raising efforts and sources other than State funds.

Other Legislation of Interest

HB 131 – Repeal Map Act

Repeal the Transportation Corridor Official Map Act and make necessary conforming changes to other statutes.

HB 200 – 2019 Storm Recovery/Var. Budget Corrections

·         Hurricane Florence Disaster Recovery Fund ($70,812,336) for DPS to use for State match for Hurricane Florence federal disaster assistance programs.

·         State Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund ($33,173,258) for DPS-DEM allocate:

o    $11,197,013 – Hurricane Matthew state match for federal disaster assistance

o   $4,176,245 – Hurricane Michael state match for federal disaster assistance

o   $17,800,000 – Hurricane Dorian state match for federal disaster assistance and funding state assistance programs

·         DEQ ($17,600,000) for match additional federal funds for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund

·         Appropriates $5,000,000 to the Office of State Budget and Management for the State Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund to ensure that sufficient funds are available to provide relief and assistance for Hurricane Dorian, recent storms, and future emergencies.

·         Allocates $9,800,000 to the DPS – DEM to be used to expand flood mitigation studies and  for water level and breach monitoring systems for 1,510 high and intermediate risk dams.

·         $15,000,000 to the DPS, Office of Recovery and Resiliency for local government loan and grant programs for disaster related recovery.

·         Flood insurance Pilot Program to receive $2,000,000 to develop a program to help pay for the cost of up to two years’ flood insurance for eligible applicants and properties. The applicant earned no more than eighty percent (80%) of the subject area median income during the preceding calendar and the property is the primary residence.

HB 675 – 2019 Building Code Regulatory Reform 

Prohibits cities and counties from enacting ordinances establishing minimum square footage for residential structures.  It provides that any inconsistent city or county ordinances are void and unenforceable.

SB 355 – Land-Use Regulatory Changes

Prohibits initiation or enforcement of a zoning amendment that down zones property without the written consent of all property owners subject to the amendment, unless the amendment is initiated by a city or county.

Prohibits cities and counties from including as a permit condition requirement for which either the city or county does not have authority to regulate taxes, impact fees, certain building elements, driveway related improvements, or other unauthorized limitations on land development or use. Prohibits, without the written consent of the rezoning applicant, the denial of a conditional rezoning request based on conditions not authorized by statute.

G.S. 160D-5-1 requiring a local government to have a comprehensive development plan in place before adopting and applying zoning regulations.

G.S. 160D-10-6 shortening the list of mandated contents in development agreements and would authorize the parties to the agreements to negotiate terms for providing public facilities and other amenities and sharing in their costs.

SB 420/HB 523 – NC Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

Enacts the North Carolina Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (NCSCRA). Concerning the rights provided to servicemembers to extend residential lease agreements which expire while the servicemember is engaged in certain active duty, including members of the NC National Guard, or of another state and reside in this state.

SB 483/HB 922 – Vacation Rental Act Changes

Properties covered by the Vacation Rental Act are subject to the statutes governing local government enforcement to perform periodic inspections for hazardous and unlawful conditions.

SB 505 – Rural Job Retention Act

Expands the types of businesses eligible for an award from the Job Maintenance and Capital Development Fund to include a heritage manufacturing employer that plans to retrain and relocate at least 400 of those employees to a facility located in a tier two area.

SB 523 – Rev. Laws Clarifying & Administrative Changes

Eliminates language that gives the Department authority to assess retailers for use tax in certain situations regardless of the retailer’s liability for sales tax under-collection related to certain RMI, real property contract, and service contract transactions. Clarifies the conditions under which the taxpayer is entitled to relief with respect to the under collection of tax for linen rentals. Clarifies that a special election for a local option sales tax cannot be held within one year from the date of the last preceding election. Managing real property is not a taxable service under current law. RMI services provided by a real property manager under a property management contract are subject to sales and use tax if more than 25% of the time spent managing the property for the billing or invoice period is attributable to taxable RMI services. Certain RMI services provided by a real property manager under a property management contract are excluded from taxation, and from the 25% calculation.

SB 557 – Various Finance Law Changes

Requires an accommodation facilitator to file annual reports providing the property owner’s name, the property owner’s mailing address, the physical location of the accommodation, and gross receipts information for the rentals. [NC REALTORS OPPOSES this requirement]

Clarifies that the tax changes made regarding RMI apply to existing contracts. This clarification ensures that those contracts do not need to be renegotiated. Effective when it becomes law and applies retroactively to July 26, 2019.

SB 590 – Modify Continuing Ed for Real Estate Brokers 

Makes changes to the continuing education requirements for real estate brokers allowing online classes, reduces to 18 months the time new licensees have to complete a post-licensing education program, consolidates state statues in Article 3 of Chapter 93A, and reenacts the fee schedule in Article 3. Effective July 1, 2020.

Combines group licensed schools and continuing education sponsors as “certified education providers.” Substitutes certification requirements in lieu of licensing requirements for certified education providers, who will no longer submit financial data to the Real Estate Commission prior to certification.

Allow the exemptions to licensure under 93A to apply to timeshare salespeople who are employees of the company that owns the development.

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