Legislative Priorities Make Progress

House and Senate Appropriation leaders spent much of last week seeking to iron out differences between the spending plans adopted by each body. That conference report will then have to pass both chambers before being sent to the Governor. It is believed that both chambers have agreed on a final spending target. Several members indicated that they planned to work through the weekend in an effort to complete this task in the next few days.

On Tuesday evening, a stakeholder meeting was convened on SB 355 (Land Use Regulatory Changes) [Senator Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Senator Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus), Senator Sam Searcy (D-Wake)] in an effort to address specific concerns raised by local government advocates. Most of the provisions contained in this legislation have been in bills considered in both the 2015 and 2017 sessions, including:

  • 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

Tuesday’s meeting was called by the sponsors of the bill in an effort to see if those concerns could be accommodated. NCHBA’s legislative team indicated that it was open to reasonable modification of the bill. It is anticipated that this bill will be heard next week in the House Regulatory Reform Committee.

Another of NCHBA’s top pro-active priorities, HB 675 (2019 Building Code Regulatory Reform), sponsored by Representatives Mark Brody (R-Union), Dennis Riddell (R-Alamance), Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), and Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland), was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday. The bill addresses several important issues that are now impacting the industry, including expediting the plan review process and prohibiting local governments from requiring minimal square footage of new homes. Senate Commerce Committee Chair Rick Gunn (R-Alamance) indicated that the bill would likely be heard in committee next week.

NCHBA’s bill which would make several desirable changes to the performance guarantee process was referred to the House Regulatory Reform Committee. SB 313 (Performance Guarantee to Streamline Affordable Housing) [Senator Andy Wells (R-Catawba), Senator Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) and Senator Mike Woodard (D-Durham)] would make refinements in NCHBA’s 2015 performance guarantee reform legislation. These refinements include setting the length of the performance guarantee at one year, unless the developer elects to extend the guarantee; and that all administrative fees are included in the 125% cap on performance guarantee set by the 2015 law. The chairs of the House Regulatory Reform Committee have indicated that this bill will be heard next week.

SB 55 (Continuing Education for General Contractors) is slated to be heard in the House Finance Committee this Wednesday. The legislation is sponsored by Senators Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Don Davis (D-Greene). The bill would require at least one qualifier of a building, residential or unclassified licensee to obtain 8 hours of instruction annually as a requirement for license renewal. Starting in 2021, all 8 hours can be satisfied by taking approved courses online.

Finally, we are proud to recognize Representative Dean Arp (R-Union) as our “NCHBA Legislator of the Week”). Representative Arp is a longtime supporter of the home building industry, currently serving his 4th term in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Professionally, Dean is a licensed structural engineer who is extremely knowledgeable on the issues facing our industry. During his tenure, NCHBA has worked closely with Representative Arp on many issues. For example, he was the primary sponsor of HB 120 (Building Code: Local Consistency) during the 2013 session which limited the types of inspections to those listed in the North Carolina Building Code. We thank Representative Arp for his hard work on behalf of home builders across the state!

Legislator of the Week

Representative Dean Arp (R-Union)

Representative Dean Arp has long supported NCHBA’s legislative priorities. In 2012, he was one of the original sponsors of our first Building Code Regulatory Reform bill. There have been four additional such bills in the years since and Representative Arp has always championed them. We thank Representative Arp for his leadership in helping NCHBA keep the dream of home ownership attainable for North Carolina families.