Members of the Home Builders Association of Charlotte (HBAC) and the Charlotte chapter of NAIOP made separate trips to Raleigh last week, but lobbied members of the General Assembly on similar issues, including reform of isolated wetlands regulations and repeal of the Protest Petition statute.
In meetings with legislators in both the House and Senate, members talked about the importance of regulatory reform for job creation and economic development. And with just two weeks elapsed in the 2015 Short Session, both chambers are already poised to take up critical legislation in this area in the days ahead. Here are some of the key bills REBIC and our partner organizations are currently monitoring:
- S 734 – Regulatory Reform Act of 2014: This 62-page omnibus bill addresses issues across a wide range of industries, from fertilizer to air quality, and includes on provision that would be particularly helpful for the development industry:
“§ 143-750. Permit choice: If a permit applicant submits a permit for any type of development and a rule or ordinance changes between the time the permit application was submitted and a permit decision is made, the permit applicant may choose which version of the rule or ordinance will apply to the permit. This section applies to all development permits issued by the State and by local governments.”
Another section would expand the real estate license exemption for employees and managers of limited liability companies, partnerships and closely held businesses. This provision is opposed by both the North Carolina Association of Realtors(R) and the North Carolina Real Estate Commission, both of which are working with Senate leaders on substitute language.
- HB 1141/SB 737 Amend Isolated Wetland Regulation establishes authority for DENR to regulate isolated wetlands. The amount of impact allowed would be greater than 1 ac east of I-95 and greater than 1/3 ac west of I-95. Also changes the current mitigation ratio to 1:1. REBIC, NAIOP and the North Carolina Home Builders Association (NCHBA) believe that this is a good first step, but will lobby for more clarity in the definition of isolated wetlands.
- HB 1163/SB 776 Streamline Rulemaking Process would require agencies to certify that they adhered to regulatory principles that reduce the regulatory burden, base rules on sound scientific and technical information and that achieve the desired result in the most cost-effective manner.
- HB 1081/SB 765 – Reform Agency Review of Engineering Work creates a process for the review and revision of agency permitting processes. The bill requires state and local permitting agencies to standardize the process of review and comments on Regulatory Submittals and to create an informal internal review process for use at the Submitting Party’s request in the following circumstances: (1) the inclusion in a Regulatory Submittal of a design or practice sealed by a Professional Engineer but not included in the Regulatory Authority’s existing guidance, manuals, or standard operating procedures (sets out procedures for the review); (2) a disagreement between the reviewer of the Submittal and the Submitting Party regarding whether the authority identified by the Authority for revisions or requests for additional information designated as required justifies a required change.
- HB 1050 Omnibus Tax Law Changes would reinstate for one year the authority of local governments to collect a Business Privilege License Tax, but then phases out that tax entirely on July 1, 2015. The change could mean a loss of tens of millions for large cities like Charlotte, which may impact local property taxes. Other provisions impose an excise tax on the liquid used in e-cigarettes and clarify language in last year’s tax reform legislation. The bill was approved by Senate Finance on Tuesday night, and now heads to the floor for a vote.
- HB 150 – Zoning/Design & Aesthetics Controls: REBIC’s top legislative priority, a 2013 bill that would clarify that local governments lack the authority to regulate the aesthetic design of single-family homes, duplexes and townhomes, was briefly placed on the Senate calendar last Monday night before being pulled with the rest of that night’s agenda and sent back to the Rules Committee. After passing the House last year 98 – 18, this critical piece of legislation is still awaiting a vote on the Senate floor, and REBIC will continue working with NCHBA to bring it to the Governor’s desk.