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July 28, 2015 

Debate on State Budget Heats Up, Uncertainty Regarding Session Adjournment

As North Carolina House and Senate leaders continue to negotiate a compromised state budget plan, key tax provisions led to a heated debate between the Senate and Governor McCrory last week. Senator Brown (R-Jones) held a news conference with rural counties to tout his proposed budget provision to redistribute sales tax revenue. As previously reported, the Senate included within its budget proposal a provision that would change the formula by which sales tax revenues are distributed to counties across the state. Under the current state formula, 75 percent of the revenues from the local sales tax are distributed to the county wherein the taxes are collected, with the remaining 25 percent distributed on a per capita basis.

Currently, local county commissioners have the option of distributing the local sales tax either per capita or based on property valuations. The Senate's budget includes a provision that would distribute all local sales tax revenues per capita, phased in over four years. The proposal also changes the local sales tax to a state sales tax, requiring distributions among counties and municipalities to be allocated per capita.

Following Senator Brown's news conference, Governor McCrory issued a statement saying he would veto any budget package if sales tax redistribution were to be included, calling the provision the "Tax Increase, Redistribution and Spending Act." The sharp words between the Senate and the governor highlight the divide within budget negotiations.

As the divide within budget negotiations widens, the Senate has reportedly shut down their traditional committee work, concluding Thursday. Rumor has it that the House will follow suit in shutting down their traditional committee hearings this week. With committee hearings coming to a stall, House and Senate leaders are expected to focus on finalizing a budget deal in the coming month(s). The House took their budget negotiations public last week, holding a hearing within the House Appropriations Committee, receiving an update from the state's Fiscal Research Division and allotting time for public comments. A follow-up hearing will occur Wednesday, July 29.

To read more of this week's legislative blog, written by Kerri Burke of McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC, click here.

To review the Charlotte Chamber's 2015-2016 Legislative Agenda, click here.

Legislative Alert

As the House and Senate conferees negotiate the differences in their respective budget proposals, it is critical that we contact members of the budget conference committees to urge them to expand the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program and to NOT change the current sales tax redistribution formula. The JDIG program is critical to our state for continued job growth. The Senate included changes to the program in their budget which limits its use in urban counties. The House passed HB 117 early in the session which expands the program. North Carolina is not in the economic development game without the program.

This proposal to redistribute sales tax collections would not be good for Mecklenburg County or the state of North Carolina. Mecklenburg County and other counties would receive less revenue under a redistribution impacting infrastructure investments, property tax rates and job creation. There are also potential impacts on bond ratings for communities because current revenues are already pledged for debt. We should urge members of the conference committees not to include this in the final budget.

Members of the conference committees can be found here.

Those from Mecklenburg County are included below. Click on their names to find contact information.

Representative Bill Brawley, Co-Chair
Representative Rob Bryan
Representative Dan Bishop
Representative John Bradford III
Representative Charles Jeter
Representative Jacqueline Schaffer
Representative Kelly Alexander
Representative Becky Carney
Representative Tricia Cotham
Representative Rodney Moore
Senator Jeff Tarte

Register Now for the 2015 Technology Summit

Advancements in technology are rapidly changing the landscape of business in the 21st century economy, as information is now more accessible than ever. How do we strategically use and analyze this information for decision-making in a data driven economy? How do we protect the data we collect from cyber risks? And, are we preparing the current and future workforce for these industry demands and opportunities?

The 2015 Technology Summit will take you on a journey though trending topics, including cyber security and data analytics, while challenging you to equip our local technology workforce. Along the way, there will be discussions with CIOs, technology innovators and leaders in academia.

This is a must-attend event for technologists, strategists and business leaders. Join us with more than 200 attendees Friday, August 28, at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Uptown. 

Click here to view the agenda and register for the 2015 Technology Summit.

Don't Miss the Deadline to Secure Your Hotel Room - 2015 Charlotte Region Chamber Trip to Washington, D.C.

The deadline to secure a hotel room reservation at the Grand Hyatt, Washington D.C. is Friday, July 31. The trip cost per person is $675.

The Charlotte region chambers will host our annual trip to Capitol Hill on September 8-9, 2015. The trip will be held in conjunction with the North Carolina Business & Economic Development Summit hosted by members of our North Carolina Congressional Delegation. Attendees will represent the Charlotte region business community during this two-day event. The trip agenda includes a reception with the North Carolina Congressional delegation, meetings with members of the administration, business networking and more.

Registration cost covers hotel accommodations at the Grand Hyatt, Washington, D.C. for one night, four meals (two lunches, one dinner and one breakfast), conference and panel discussions, and transportation to program activities. You don't want to miss this unique opportunity to learn more about the chamber's public policy advocacy, while networking with regional business leaders and elected officials - all in the nation's capitol.

Please note, the registration fee does not include travel to and from Washington. Book your travel early to take advantage of low fares. Recommended arrival on September 8 is between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. if flying into Reagan National Airport or by 10 a.m. if flying into Dulles or BWI airports. Formal program activities will end after lunch on September 9.

For more information, contact Carrie Cook.

Click here to register, view this year's itinerary and more.

Could EPA's New Rule Leave You Stuck in Traffic?

In the coming weeks, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to finalize a new ozone standard that will be among the most expensive regulations in our nation's history. The rule is projected to reduce national GDP by $140 billion annually and eliminate 1.4 million jobs. To make matters worse, the effect on transportation funding could lead to even worse gridlock in your area.

The EPA will finalize a new regulation on ground-level ozone that will lower the current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a level of 65-70 ppb (or even lower). This proposal comes despite the fact that ozone emissions have been cut in half since 1980.

If the EPA's rule proceeds as planned, large portions of the country would immediately violate the new standard. And if a state or locality cannot comply with the EPA's tighter restrictions, the agency has the authority to impose severe penalties, including withholding federal transportation funding for highway and public transit projects.

The Energy Institute launched a new report, "Grinding to a Halt: Examining the Impacts of New Ozone Regulations on Key Transportation Projects," that details why compliance with the EPA's tightened standards will be difficult, if not impossible, in many areas of the country and what could happen as a result. The first in the series focuses on the Washington, D.C, region, with other major metropolitan areas to follow.

Cutting off federal transportation funding is a severe penalty that has rarely been used in the past. If the EPA's proposed ozone rule is finalized as proposed, more than 5,500 counties nationwide are expected to violate the more stringent standard. Because many of these areas will be unable to develop compliance plans that meet the EPA's expectations, transportation funding penalties are likely to rise dramatically.

The U.S Chamber of Commerce, along with the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable, encouraged the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce to sign a joint letter to be sent to President Obama that urges him to retain the current ozone standard.

We need your help to raise awareness of this poorly understood and potentially major consequence of the EPA's ozone rule. Please use this report to educate and mobilize your elected officials and influential stakeholders, so that they can pressure the White House into setting the standard at a more reasonable and attainable level.

Don't let EPA's proposed ozone standard bring your transportation funding to a halt.

Click here to read the joint letter to President Obama.

Aviation Committee Meeting

The Aviation Committee will meet Tuesday, August 4, at 8 a.m. Wilson Air Center will host the chamber's Aviation Committee at its facility at 5400 Airport Drive, Charlotte, NC 28208. The committee will hear from General Manager Vince Papke, about the corporate aircraft services offered at Wilson Air Center and the work they do. Following the presentation, Mr. Papke will take the committee on a bus tour around the FBO campus.

Committee meetings are free to chamber members, but registration is required. To register for this committee meeting, click here.

For questions regarding this committee meeting, please contact Laura Guacci at 704.378.1322.

Workforce Development and Education Committee Meeting

The Workforce Development and Education Committee will meet Wednesday, August 12, at 8:30 a.m. at the Charlotte Chamber. The committee will host Jimmy Chancey, career and technical education director at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and Melissa Verea, career pathways director at MeckEd, who will speak in a panel discussion with the committee regarding the work Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and MeckEd do together.

To register for this committee meeting, click here.

For questions regarding this committee meeting, please contact Laura Guacci at 704.378.1322.

For the 2015 calendar of all upcoming public policy signature events, click here