State Legislators Give Home Builders Reason to be Optimistic about the 2013 Session

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Senators Tommy Tucker, Jeff Tarte and Joel Ford joined State Representatives Ruth Samuelson, Rob Bryan, Rodney Moore, Robert Brawley and Bill Brawley for the NCHBA/REBIC Legislative Forum Friday afternoon at Myers Park Country Club

Speaking at a joint REBIC/NCHBA forum at Myers Park Country Club Friday afternoon, legislators from Mecklenburg, Iredell and Union counties gave home builders many reasons to be optimistic that 2013 would be one of the most pro-business sessions in North Carolina history.

During a 90-minute Q&A session focusing on critical issues for the home building industry, the eight legislators offered their perspectives on everything from Tax Reform to a bill that would eliminate the ability of local governments to regulate the architecture of new homes. Here are some of the highlights:

On a Bill Prohibiting Local Architectural Design Requirements …

  • Every legislator on the panel agreed they would support legislation similar to SB 731, which passed the Senate in 2011;
  • Senator Jeff Tarte  (Mecklenburg), the former mayor of Cornelius, says he remembers the absurdity of watching his town commissioners debate “which shade of yellow they were going to allow on the exterior of a new commercial building” and supports getting local government out of the architecture business;
  • Representative Bill Brawley (Mecklenburg) said he expected another, more comprehensive piece of legislation would emerge from his Local Government subcommittee and cover both residential and commercial construction. Brawley, a commercial broker, was a strong supporter of SB 731 in the last session, but felt it didn’t go far enough.
  • Representative Ruth Samuelson (Mecklenburg), the Republican Caucus Leader, told builders she has “a lot of passion about this issue,” and promised it would get through.

On a bill requiring a Sunset Provision for all State Administrative Rules …

  • Representative Samuelson, who co-sponsored the bill with Representative Rob Bryan and others, said “the idea is to not allow any of our 29,000 administrative rules to stay on the books indefinitely when they’ve outlived their original purpose.”
  • Representative Bryan (Mecklenburg) likened the proposal to “calling it zero-based regulating,” while Senator Tarte suggested a form of the federal pay-go rule: “We should revoke two laws for every new law we pass.”
  • Representative Rodney Moore (Mecklenburg) took a more cautious approach, saying that while he supported regulatory reform in concept, “how we go about it is something we have to be careful about.”

On legislation to Change the Building Code Cycle and Limit the Number of Local Inspections …

  • Senator Tommy Tucker (Union), a mechanical contractor and Charlotte HBA member, shared his own frustration with the lack of uniformity in local code inspections, and said he would support efforts to bring more predictability to the building and permitting process.
  • Representative Samuelson, responding to the chaotic introduction of the 2012 Residential Building Code last spring, suggested a bill that would require codes can be only enforced after they are available online or in print for a set period of time.

On State Tax Reform …

  • The panelists all agreed that some type of Tax Reform would occur during the 2013 session, but most expressed concerns about the plan introduced last month by Senator Bob Rucho.
  • Senator Tarte, who did support much of the Rucho plan, said “the goal should be to broaden the base and lower the rate. If we continue to take away from the most productive, they will quit.” But he also acknowledged that the plan would continue to evolve and encouraged the industry to provide him and his colleagues with specific feedback and ideas.
  • Representative Samuelson was blunt in her criticism of Rucho’s plan, saying “the Speaker has made it clear (it) would not be acceptable to the House. We’re going to tweak it.” She specifically took issue with the proposal to raise revenue from a 1% Real Estate Conveyance Fee.
  • Representative Robert Brawley (Iredell) also agreed that reform was needed, but cautioned his fellow legislators on how aggressive of a plan to pursue. “Our economy is so delicate, if we do anything too drastic, it’s going to kill us.”

Thanks to all the legislators who carved out time from their busy schedules to spend time with home builders from around the Charlotte Region and give their perspectives on the 2013 session!

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