Several Legislative Priorities Pass

It Was A Busy Week At The General Assembly
HB 948 Building Code Regulatory Reform passed the House by a vote of 104-0 on Thursday. One representative nearly missed the vote but had his vote added shortly after this photo was taken to bring the “aye” votes to 104.

Leadership in both the House and Senate continue to push for an early adjournment. Rumors started to swirl this week that both chambers would work to finish up most of their legislative agenda this week with the hope of turning their attention next week to constitutional amendments that would be added to the November ballot.

The budget will become law on July 1. The House took the official step to override the Governor’s objection on Tuesday. The Senate took the same step last week, mostly along party lines. The 2018-2019 budget contains one of NCHBA’s top session priorities — a  crucial provision which will allow for RMI repair contractors who pay sales tax on materials for an RMI project to pay the sales tax at the retail level and receive credit on the tax dollars submitted to the Department of Revenue.

Our top legislative priority, HB 948 (Building Code Regulatory Reform) was sent to the Governor on Thursday. The Senate approved the legislative priority on Wednesday by a vote of 47-0, with the House concurring with the Senate changes by a margin of 104-0 on Thursday. As highlighted in previous updates, the bill contains provisions that will expedite the inspection process for builders across the state. The latest version of building code regulatory reform was made possible by the leadership of the bill sponsors Representatives Mark Brody (R-Union), Dennis Riddell (R-Alamance), Carla Cunningham (D-Mecklenburg), Larry Potts (R-Davidson).

HB 826 (Clarify System Development Fees), another of our session’s pro-active measures, was also sent to the Governor on Thursday. The bill contains four important elements. First, it amends the planning horizon for capacity fee calculation starting from not less than 10 years to 5 years. It also allows system development fees to be paid later in the development process. Furthermore, the bill requires the Environmental Management Commission to study and update the water and sewer use numbers for homes. These rules haven’t been updated for over a decade and current construction techniques use significantly less water. Updated water usage rules are needed to accurately calculate system development fees. Finally, the bill contains a provision sought by local governments that clarifies system development fees can be used to secure revenue bonds for water and sewer systems.

NCHBA worked with other interested parties to form a consensus on this legislation that will allow for a smoother and more cost-effective implementation of last year’s capacity fee authority. Senator Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) carried the legislation through the Senate, while Representative Dennis Riddell (R-Alamance) was gracious enough to allow one of his bills to be used as a vehicle. These important changes would not have been possible without the assistance of these two fine legislators.

The General Assembly continued its annual regulatory reform efforts this week. Both chambers offered a conference report with HB 374 (Regulatory Reform Act of 2018) that includes a wide range of ongoing deregulation measures that will improve the business environment. Regulatory relief has been an annual priority for members of the General Assembly. This year’s legislation includes provisions that will help the home building industry, including allowing a licensed soil scientist to inspect and determine that soil and land conditions have not be altered on a site where an onsite wastewater permit was previously issued and it had expired. Last year, the General Assembly grandfathered permits that had expired due to inaction. Grandfathered permits dating back to January 1, 2000, are deemed valid as long as the ground conditions remain unchanged. Some local governments misinterpreted last year’s law and failed to allow work to proceed, thus requiring this additional legislative fix.

HB 573 (Business/Regulatory Changes) cleared the Senate on Tuesday and passed the House today. The bill directs the council to provide an exemption for detached and attached garages located on the same lot as a dwelling from any requirements in the energy efficiency standards contained in the residential and energy conservation codes. This provision will save builders significant sums in unnecessary energy requirements for the non-living space. Another change allows wastewater systems to be installed within 50 feet of a well (instead of the current 100-foot setback), thus allowing builders to build homes on smaller lots.

Finally, much of your legislative team’s time this week, and during this session, was devoted to securing the passage of another of NCHBA’s top legislative priorities HB 507 (Land Use Regulatory Changes). This legislation, principally sponsored by Representative Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe), passed the House back in April of last year. In an effort to get the bill calendared for Senate action, NCHBA engaged in negotiations which resulted in several key provisions being removed from the bill. This reduced version was taken up by the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday where it was passed by a unanimous vote. It was then taken up by the Senate Rules Committee on Thursday where it was again unanimously given a favorable report. The bill was calendared for floor action today but was removed and referred back to committee when NCHBA refused to agree to remove another key provision important to our members. The bill is likely dead for the session but we plan to come back with the full bill in 2019. Although the effort ultimately proved unsuccessful, we greatly appreciate Rep. Jordan’s remarkable leadership efforts.

Bills On The Move

Legislator Of The Week

Representative Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe, Watauga)

Representative Jordan is a proud member of the Ashe/Alleghany HBA and one of NCHBA’s most steadfast supporters in the General Assembly. He is a sponsor of HB 507 Land Use Regulatory Changes, and just this week he carried the bill through two Senate committees without a dissenting vote. The North Carolina Home Builders Association thanks Representative Jordan for all of his work to keep housing affordable in NC.