Crossover Deadline Passes And NCHBA’s Legislative Priorities Remain Active
This session’s “crossover deadline” came and went last week without the normal legislative frenzy which typically marks its passing. It is a legislatively-created obstacle designed to reduce the number of bills that remain eligible for consideration for the rest of the long session and next year’s short session.
Any bill (except those with an appropriation or finance provision) must pass its body of origin and be read into the other body by that date. Of the roughly 1,700 bills introduced into this session, fewer than half survived the deadline and remain eligible.
Typically, the deadline produces sessions that last well into the night with frequent recesses for committee meetings. That was not the case this year as the leaders in both chambers did an effective job of moving bills to ensure that there would not be a backlog in the waning hours. Your NCHBA legislative team worked closely with committee chairs over the last month to calendar all of our key legislative priorities well before last Thursday’s deadline.
One of our top session priorities cleared the Senate on Monday night in a strong bi-partisan vote and was sent to the House. SB 355 Land-Use Regulatory Changes, sponsored by Senators Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Sam Searcy (D-Wake), passed the Senate on a vote of 39-9, despite objections of local government advocates.
The bill helps level the playing field between landowners and local governments by, among other things, the following:
- Integrating permit choice and vesting laws to ensure that the rules are not changed in the middle of a development project.
- Protecting landowners against 3rd party rezoning efforts.
- Allowing certain claims to bypass the Board of Adjustment and proceed to Superior Court.
- Placing limits on conditional zoning abuse, while preserving flexibility for developers.
While local governments and other parties have objected to portions of this legislation, NCHBA has strongly maintained that it is needed to ensure more certainty and fairness in the land development process. With our approval, the bill was amended to include the provisions of SB 422 (Planning/Development Changes) which combine and modernize existing city and county planning and zoning chapters. This bill has been introduced in the past several sessions at the behest of the NC Bar Association. Now that the bill has “crossed over” to the House, it is anticipated that a stakeholder group will be convened among interested parties both to explore language alternatives and to ensure internal consistency between the two parts of this bill.
In the House, we will work closely with the sponsors of SB 355’s companion bill Representatives Destin Hall (R-Caldwell), John Bell (R-Wayne), Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth), and Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland).
The sponsors of SB 355, Senators Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Sam Searcy (D-Wake) did an outstanding job in guiding this bill through the Senate. It is critical to this bill becoming law that it receives strong support from both sides of the aisle. Sam Searcy, a freshman legislator from Wake County with past experience in land development, worked hard in his caucus to ensure this result. In fact, 11 of the 20 Democrats who were present on Monday night voted for SB 355 (joining all 28 GOP Senators present and voting). As a result of his dedicated efforts, we are delighted to name Sam Searcy as our “NCHBA Legislator of the Week”.
Another of our legislative priorities also cleared the Senate on Monday evening by a unanimous vote. SB 313 (Performance Guarantee to Streamline Affordable Housing), sponsored by Senators 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. We were able to work out these changes in pre-session negotiations with the NC League of Municipalities so it is a consensus bill.
Crossover marks the unofficial halftime of the General Assembly’s long session so it’s a good time to see where our top legislative priorities stand:
- SB 55 (Continuing Education for General Contractors): Passed Senate on 04/18/19; received by House
- SB 355 (Land-Use Regulatory Changes): Passed Senate on 05/06/19; received by House
- HB 675 (2019 Building Code Regulatory Reform): Passed House on 04/29/19; received by Senate
- SB 313 (Perf. Guar. to Streamline Afford. Housing): Passed Senate on 05/06/19; received by House
- HB 492 (Simplify Builder Inventory Exclusion): Passed House 05/02/19; received by Senate
- HB 873 (System Development Fee/Clarify Time of Charge): Passed House 05/02/19; received by Senate
- HJR 254 (Confirm Ken Goodman/IC); HJR 253 (Confirm James Gillen/IC): Both Confirmed to N.C. Industrial Commission on 04/22/19
- HB 268 (Disapprove Certain On-site Wastewater Rules): Passed House 04/26/19; received by Senate
- SB 367 (Clarify Property Owners Rights): Passed Senate State and Local Government Committee but not further pursued; other alternatives under examination
- SB 406 (Limit Conditional Zoning): Introduced in Senate as placeholder; not calendared
On the defensive side of the ledger, NCHBA was able to satisfactorily amend the following bills:
- HB 858 (Interior Design Profession Act) excluded general contractors; bill not subject to crossover
- SB 576 (Consumer Protection/Roofing Contractors) excluded general contractors and roofing subcontractors working for general contractors; does not appear that bill made crossover
- SB 242 (Recreational Land Fee Changes—Harnett Co.) capped fee at its present level of $500; received in House
In cooperation with a broad business community coalition, NCHBA formally opposed HB 611 (Amend Rules of Evidence) sought by the plaintiffs’ lawyers. This bill would have repealed a key provision of the 2011 tort reform law which the business community was successful in passing. Finally, HB 877 (HOA and Condo Declaration Amendments) would have reduced the threshold by which a planned community declaration could be amended from 67% to 50%. NCHBA opposed this change and the bill was not calendared. Neither of these bills survived crossover.
Both chambers return to work next week. Senators will turn their attention to crafting their version of the budget, while House members will resume a more routine legislative pace.
We hope you will make plans to join us in Raleigh on May 21 and 22. NCHBA needs you to personally add your voice in support of our legislative agenda and housing affordability!
NCHBA’s annual Legislative Reception will be held on Tuesday, May 21 starting at 6:00 pm at the NC Museum of History. NCHBA Legislative Day will follow on Wednesday, May 22, when members will gather at the Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh to visit with their respective legislators.
YOU are the strongest and most effective advocates for North Carolina’s home building industry. Make your voice heard!
Legislator of the Week
Senator Sam Searcy (D-Wake)
Senator Sam Searcy is a freshman legislator from Wake County and has fast become a reliable supporter of NCHBA’s pro-housing agenda. Senator Searcy is one of the primary sponsors of SB 355 Land-Use Regulatory Changes, a top NCHBA legislative priority this session. We thank Senator Searcy for his outstanding leadership on this issue and for his support of our industry.