One of NCHBA’s top legislative priorities passed its first hurdle last Wednesday. SB 55 (Continuing Education for General Contractors) (Primary Sponsors Senators Rick Gunn, R-Alamance; Paul Newton R-Cabarrus & Don Davis, D-Greene) received overwhelming support and a favorable report in the Senate Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee. It now heads to the Senate Finance Committee.
The legislation would require at least one qualifier for a building, residential or unclassified licensee to obtain 8 hours of instruction annually as a requirement for license renewal. Those 8 hours can be obtained either in the classroom or, beginning in 2021, online. Two of the hours will include a mandatory class approved by the NC Licensing Board for General Contractors, while 6 hours will be at the election of the contractor from sponsors and classes likewise approved by the board. The elective hours will provide the contractor with the flexibly to choose courses that best fit his or her individual construction needs.
Once approved by the Senate Finance Committee, the bill will go to the Senate Rules Committee as a last stop before heading to the Senate floor.
As a result of Senator Gunn’s leadership on this issue as well as his long history of supporting pro-housing legislation, NCHBA has proudly named Senator Rick Gunn as our “Legislator of the Week.”
Another of NCHBA’s top pro-active bills, SB 355 (Land Use Regulatory Changes), will likely be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. Senator Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), will take the lead in handling the legislation and will be assisted by Senator Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Senator Sam Searcy (D-Wake). Most of the provisions contained in this legislation have been in bills considered in both the 2015 and 2017 sessions. They include:
- Providing better protections to landowners by integrating permit choice and vesting safeguards
- Prohibiting rezoning petitions from being filed by anyone other than the landowner, his or her agent or the local government
- Allowing certain claims (e.g., constitutionality, illegality, preemption, takings) to be filed directly in Superior or Business Court bypassing the Board of Adjustment
- Allowing landowners to challenge illegal conditions imposed by local governments which were agreed to in order to obtain government approvals
- Adoption of a more realistic standard to award attorneys’ fees to landowners who successfully contest illegal actions by local governments
- Limiting illegal conditions in the issuance of conditional zoning and in special or conditional use permits
- Providing uniformity on curb cuts on state roads in municipalities
- Strengthening the doctrine of preemption with respect to the uniform statewide building code
It is anticipated that the bill will draw opposition from local governments. However, legislation from prior sessions containing identical or similar provisions have garnered strong bi-partisan support and we expect that to happen again.
Senator Tom McInnis (R-Richmond) introduced legislation this week which would expedite the road acceptance process by the North Carolina Department of Transportation for public subdivision roads located outside of municipalities. SB 480 (Subdivision Streets/DOT Acceptance) would take a major step forward in solving a longtime problem caused by the failure of DOT to timely accept roads completed to its standards. Consequently, this delay has left homeowners in a state of limbo.
After the NC Department of Transportation (DOT) agrees to accept a county subdivision road, the developer will post a 15% maintenance bond. This bond will be returned upon the earlier of the completion of the subdivision or two years. Also, the legislation would direct NCDOT to work with counties to create a database which would convey the status of roads within each county. This provision will provide greater clarity to homeowners and prospective buyers on the status of the road (i.e., private, NCDOT maintained or municipal).
Over 200 bills were introduced on Monday and Tuesday, which was the Senate public bill filing deadline. Even more bills are anticipated to be filed in the House as its April 23rd bill filing deadline approaches. The pace is already increasing and will become even more frantic over the next several weeks as the May 9th “crossover” deadline approaches. A bill has to pass its body of origin and be read into the other body by that date to remain eligible for further consideration during this year’s long session or next year’s short session.
Our primary focus over the next several weeks will be to ensure that our pro-active bills meet this deadline.
Finally, NCHBA’s Legislative Reception and Legislative Day are just around the corner. May 21st will mark our 2nd Quarter Meeting followed by an always-popular reception honoring members of the General Assembly and Council of the State at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. The NCHBA Legislative Day will be held on May 22nd at the General Assembly. This is your opportunity to tell lawmakers about the issues facing our industry!
Legislator of the Week
Senator Rick Gunn (R-Alamance, Guilford)
Senator Rick Gunn of Alamance County is one of the primary sponsors of SB 55 (Continuing Education for General Contractors). We thank Senator Gunn for his leadership on this issue and for helping shape policies that keep housing affordable for North Carolina families.