Several Legislative Priorities – Including CE For GCs – Await Governor’s Signature

One of NCHBA’s top legislative goals was sent to the Governor last Tuesday afternoon. SB 55 (Continuing Education for General Contractors) cleared the House 108-3 and now awaits the Governor’s signature. The legislation requires at least one qualifier of a building, residential or unclassified licensee to obtain 8 hours of instruction annually starting in 2020 as a requirement for license renewal. Starting in 2021, all 8 hours can be satisfied by taking approved courses online. NCHBA is very appreciative of the leadership of our primary sponsors Senators Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Don Davis (D-Pitt) in the Senate and the support that House sponsors Representatives Larry Potts (R-Davidson), Mark Brody (R-Union), Julia Howard (R-Davie) and Ashton Clemmons (D-Guilford) showed in guiding the bill through their respective chamber.

SB 355 (Land-Use Regulatory Changes), sponsored by Senators Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Sam Searcy (D-Wake), was also sent to the Governor on Thursday afternoon after the Senate voted 47-1 to concur with the changes made in the House. This bill was the result of a stakeholder process that produced an agreement that local government advocates did not oppose.

This legislation helps level the playing field between landowners and local governments by integrating permit choice and vesting laws to ensure that the rules are not changed in the middle of a development project. In addition, the bill will:

  • Protect landowners against 3rd party rezoning efforts.
  • Allow certain claims to bypass the Board of Adjustment and proceed to Superior Court.
  • Place limits on conditional zoning abuse, while preserving flexibility for developers.

NCHBA’s legislative team would like to thank the House sponsors who helped guide the companion bill through that chamber, including Representatives Destin Hall (R-Caldwell), John Bell (R-Wayne), Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth) and Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland). We would also like to recognize the stakeholders who made the passage of this legislation much less contentious, including the NC League of Municipalities, the NC Association of County Commissioners, the city attorney for Raleigh, and other local government and development advocates.

Along with SB 55 and SB 355, another legislative priority was sent to the Governor last week. SB 313 (Performance Guarantee to Streamline Affordable Housing), sponsored by Senator Andy Wells (R-Catawba), Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) and Mike Woodard (D-Durham), makes several refinements in our successful 2015 effort to reform the performance guarantee process. NCHBA was able to work out these changes in pre-session negotiations with the NC League of Municipalities to make it a consensus bill. The bill allows the city, county or developer to determine the amount of the performance guarantee based on 100% of the cost of the entire project, plus an additional 25% to account for inflation and administration cost. Furthermore, the bill allows the local jurisdiction to require that the performance guarantee be posted at the plat recordation or a later date at the local government’s discretion. Finally, the bill allows the developer to determine the type of performance guarantee to be posted.

This legislation passed unanimously in the Senate, and on Wednesday it passed the House by a vote of 114-3. 

HB 492 (Simplify Builders’ Inventory Exclusion), sponsored by Representatives Mark Brody (R-Union), Julia Howard (R-Davie) and Brian Turner (D-Buncombe), will likely be heard by in the Senate chamber early week after clearing the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Rules Committee. The bill will simplify the process of claiming a tax benefit. In 2015, NCHBA legislative staff worked hard for the passage of HB 168 (Exempt Builders’ Inventory) which allowed a builder to claim an exemption from higher property taxes on land and houses held for sale by a builder to the extent that the increase is attributable to subdivision or other improvement. This law excludes from the annual tax bill any increased assessment arising from the improvements on any land or home held for sale. Currently, a builder is required to file for this exemption every January in the tax office of the county where the property is located. This bill would relieve the builder from having to file for this exemption every year after filing the first year as long as the property continues to be held as the builder’s inventory.

This bill was not opposed by local government advocates and easily cleared both the House and Senate Chambers.

Two additional NCHBA legislative priorities will likely be heard on the Senate floor this week. 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), will address a wide range of issues that have hampered builders across the state, including expediting the plan review process and forbidding local governments from requiring minimal square footage of new homes.

The second bill, HB 268 (Amend On-site Waste Water Laws), sponsored by Representatives Mark Brody (R-Union) and Michael Wray (D-Northampton), disallows several newly enacted rules that would have had a negative impact on homes built with septic systems. The bill creates a task force that will craft new rule recommendations that will both suit builders and protect the environment. The legislation provides NCHBA with a seat on this task force which is to report its findings to the Department of Health and Human Services by October 31, 2019.

Finally, a conference report for the state spending plan cleared both chambers on Thursday and was sent to the Governor. That was the last major hurdle legislative leaders had before clearing the way for a possible adjournment. The Governor indicated on Friday morning that he intends to veto this spending plan, leaving the immediate future of the session unclear.

Legislator of the Week

Representative Ashton Clemmons (D-Guilford)

We would like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank our Legislator of the Week: Ashton Clemmons (D-Guilford). Representative Clemmons is currently serving her first term in the North Carolina House of Representative and has proven to be a friend to housing and housing affordability. She was a primary sponsor of HB 162 (Continuing Education for General Contractors), which was the House companion to Senate Bill 55. We thank Representative Ashton Clemmons for being a great friend to the housing industry!