You've seen the press accounts about the NC General Assembly clumsily working its way to a resolution on the budget. Both chambers are making moves to indicate that the end of the "short" session is near and a deal may be close to wrap up this year's legislative activity.

While most of the media attention has been focused on teacher pay and medicaid reform, a number of other items have found their way to the finish line that need the attention of the design & construction community.

With all three of the following issues, time is of the essence. Many legislators are indicating that there is only one week left before they leave Raleigh for the year.

We are asking for your assistance in contacting your Senate and House representatives on any, or all, of the following items. (Legislator contact information can be found at  www.ncleg.net)

I. Historic Preservation Tax Credits

Yes, this is still hanging out there, and as the budget negotiations have dragged on, we are fearful that legislators in both chambers have forgotten that this is a critical piece of the budget bill and can't be forgotten in the rush to the end of session.
You've done a great job so far with the multiple alerts we've sent, but it's time your Senators and House Representatives hear from you again!
We have gotten the best results from the personal stories you've told about the historic buildings you've brought back from decay through the use of the Historic Tax Credits. Please continue to discuss the jobs and economic development associated with these revitalized historic buildings.
Ask your elected officials to support Governor McCrory's proposal for a successor program to the Historic Tax Credits -- the Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program -- to continue investments in preserving our historic buildings. Details can be found in this presentation and in this summary. This is the version included in the House Budget.


II. Energy Code Roll Back

HB 201, the measure that would roll back the 2012 NC Energy Code to the 2009 version, has been lurking around the Legislature since last year. A coalition of design, construction and  clean energy business interests have been successful in slowing its progress but it appears to have new life and was amended on Thursday in the Senate Rules Committee to offer existing buildings, and building additions an option to use the 2009 Energy Code. The bill was also expanded to include controversial language on redefining impervious surfaces as it relates to built upon area.

North Carolina has developed a tremendous industry around energy efficiency and clean energy generation in the last 6 years. A recent non-partisan report concluded that the clean & efficient energy sector has contributed $1.4 billion in project investment in the state, created or retained 21,163 jobs and will save consumers $173 million in cost by 2026. In addition, Duke Energy sees no need for nuclear plant expansion in its current 15-year planning cycle due to lower than expected demand.

The only way these gains have been accomplished is through the delicate balance of the renewable energy portfolio standards, the creation and extension of energy tax credits and a building code that recognizes the importance of raising energy efficiency standards for construction. All three of these issues create the stool on which our economic success is balanced. HB 201 cuts one of these important legs of the stool from our jobs and economic gains of the last six years and hampers our future success.


III. Local Sales Tax Options

On Wednesday the Senate Finance Committee rolled out HB 1224 that would have a significant impact on the future of local option sales taxes.The bill would set a cap of 2.5% for local-option sales taxes and would force counties to choose between public transportation or public education when utilizing the tax. This new law would replace the county's existing authority to levy unlimited 1/4 cent taxes for any public purpose authorized by the voters. In essence, it severely limits local communities' flexibility to use the sales tax to address their local capital construction needs including public schools and transit.

Two weeks ago the Governor signed HB 1043, which among other things, created a Blue Ribbon Commission to review the state's long-term building infrastructure needs and recommend funding alternatives to address those needs. It is anticipated that the local sales tax will be one of the funding mechanisms to be studied. HB 1224 would preemptively eliminate the inclusion of local sales tax in this broad study of how the state can best serve its long-term building needs.

This study Commission was the priority item for the North Carolina Recovery Coalition (AIA, AGC, PENC & ACEC) for this legislative session and a focal piece for our joint legislative day in May where the design & construction industry unveiled our Blueprint for Economic Recovery. (video on industry efforts.) We need for this Commission to study all of our funding mechanisms and not let HB 1224 undermine its work before it even gets started.


Thank you for your assistance on any, or all, of these important issues to the design and construction community. Again, your legislator contact information can be found at  www.ncleg.net .

AuthorDavid Crawford