Continuing Education For General Contractors Passes Senate, Now Heads To House
One of NCHBA top legislative priorities, SB 55 (Continuing Education for General Contractors) [primary sponsors: Senators Rick Gunn (R-Alamance), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Don Davis (D-Greene)] passed the Senate today by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 33-2. In his remarks, Senator Gunn (pictured) explained that the purpose of the bill was to enhance the professional competence and responsibility of licensees. The bill now heads to the House where 87 of the 120 members have signed on as principal or co-sponsors.
The bill received a unanimous vote from the Senate Rules Committee on Monday with Senator Paul Newton presenting the bill there. SB 55 requires 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 “on-line.” NCHBA is very appreciative of the leadership of our primary sponsors and the 33 other members of the Senate who were co-sponsors.
Another of NCHBA’s top pro-active bills is HB 675 (2019 Building Code Regulatory Reform) principally sponsored by Representative Mark Brody (R-Union), Dennis Riddell (R-Alamance), Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) and Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland). The bill has been scheduled to receive a hearing next Thursday in the House State and Local Government Committee when the House returns from its “spring break”. The bill would address a wide range of issues that builders have faced during the development and construction phase of building a home, including:
- Requires the North Carolina Building Code Council to create an inspection form to be used by engineers and architects and clarifies that they can inspect foundations and underslabs.
- Adds a new level of inspector, residential changeout inspector, to assist with minor inspections which will free up existing inspectors to concentrate on new construction.
- Prohibits local governments from requiring developers/builders to bury existing power lines or bury relocated power lines that are located outside the subdivision. It also prohibits local governments from setting minimum square footage requirements for residential structures which is a major obstacle to the construction of workforce housing in those jurisdictions who enforce such requirements.
- Creates an exclusion from the NC Building Code for motion picture, television or theatre stage sets.
- Requires the North Carolina Building Code Council to conduct a cost/benefit analysis for a five-year period of all proposed changes to the North Carolina Energy Conservation Code.
- Requires the North Carolina Building Code Council to study options to dispose of dirt, sand, gravel, rock, concrete or other nonhazardous material at the site of construction including porch fill to decrease the volume to solid waste disposal facilities.
- Requires that a local government cannot impose a local ordinance or other policy other than those required under the NC Building Code to receive a temporary certificate of occupancy.
- Clarifies that it is illegal for someone to falsely claim to be a North Carolina licensed general contractor or suggests in connection with any business activities regulated by the North Carolina General Contractors Licensing Board.
- Requires if that a local government chooses to have plan review that the review for residential building plans must be performed within two business days for plans sealed by an engineer or architect. The plan review must take place within five business days for all other residential building plans.
- Extends the time period for reporting fifteen or more framing violations to the North Carolina Department of Insurance to October 1, 2021.
- Allows a private property owner to select a testable backflow device for irrigation systems if it is in compliance with the North Carolina Plumbing Code.
The NCHBA Legislative team has worked closely with Rep. Brody, the NC Department of Insurance and local government representatives to craft legislation which would make additional significant improvements in the system.
SB 355 (Land-Use Regulatory Changes) principally sponsored by Senators Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Sam Searcy (D-Wake) was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week where it faced strong opposition from local governments and from at least one developer. Efforts are underway to craft changes which would resolve certain objections while preserving the objectives of the bill. For example, a change would clarify language regarding the practice of some landowners to voluntarily offer conditions, in the context of conditional rezoning discussions, which could not otherwise be required. It is anticipated that the product of the ongoing effort will be calendared for consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee when the Senate returns from its “spring break”.
In other floor action today, the Senate unanimously passed HJR 253 (Confirm James Gillen/Industrial Commission) and HJR 254 (Confirm Ken Goodman/Industrial Commission) which were Governor Cooper’s latest nominees to the commission which administers and adjudicates claims in the state’s workers’ compensation system. NCHBA, the NC Chamber and the NC Retail Merchants Association led business community efforts in 2011 to bring about needed workers’ compensation reforms including legislative confirmation of nominees to the Industrial Commission (IC).
Because of opposition from the business community, Governor Cooper’s last two nominees to the IC were not confirmed by the General Assembly. However, prior to this session, the Governor nominated both Deputy Commissioner Gillen and Representative Ken Goodman who both enjoyed our full support. NCHBA Executive Vice President Mike Carpenter testified in favor of both nominees on Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Nominations. Having now been confirmed by both bodies, Gillen and Goodman will shortly be taking their seats on the commission.
The chairs of the Senate Finance Committee rolled out legislation, SB 622 (Tax Reduction Act of 2019), which would reduce taxes on personal income and the franchise tax. Over the last six years, the Republican majority has made tax reform a major priority. This year’s overhaul would increase the standard deduction on personal income tax filers and drastically reduce the rates on the franchise tax which is of particular interest to S and C corporation filers, including many of our members. Currently, the franchise tax is calculated at $1.50 per $1,000 of net worth. The bill as drafted would reduce that to $1.30 per $1,000 in the 2019 tax year and $1.00 per $1,000 in 2020. Senate Finance Chair Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) explained that the ultimate goal was the total elimination of the franchise tax. This legislation preserves a 2017 NCHBA amendment which restored the ability of our members to deduct their real estate Indebtedness when calculating the net worth of their business for franchise tax purposes.
The NCHBA Legislative Reception and Legislative Day are right around the corner. Don’t miss this important opportunity to ensure that the home building industry in North Carolina remains strong. Make your plans to attend today!
Legislator of the Week
Senator Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus, Union)
Senator Paul Newton is a primary sponsor of two very important bills on our legislative agenda this session – SB 355 (Land-Use Regulatory Changes) and SB 55 (Continuing Education for General Contractors). We thank Senator Newton for his leadership on these issues and for helping shape policies that keep housing affordable for North Carolina families.