Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 2:40 PM

Important Bill For Local Tax and Economic Development Changes is Mired in the Muck

WARNING! THIS BILL WAS NOT ENACTED!
The clock ran out on HB 1224 and we've had our fingers crossed for two weeks hoping that having the House and Senate both in session tomorrow might yield some legislative love and perhaps another look at HB 1224 -- which is somewhat controversial but contains for important provisions we'd like to see passed.

This bill was introduced in the House to make changes to the economic development fund called JMAC (Jobs Maintenance and Capital Development). Typically when the JMAC is amended it is to assist a certain manufacturer with converting its manufacturing process to change its product. For example, Domtar used to make paper in northeastern NC - I think I remember it was for the bags that dog food is sold in. It received JMAC funding to convert that process to make the paper/pulp product that is the absorption in disposable diapers. Anyhow, the latest change was to allow a manufacturing process to become more energy efficient and reduce emissions, slightly lower some employment-related thresholds, and add $10 million to the fund still capping each project award at $6 million annually. We hear it was Evergreen Packaging.

The Senate made this bill a new animal by incorporating local sales tax changes and others in what became a controversial bill. The House rejected the bill and a conference agreement was reached. The Senate adopted the Conference Report but the House referred it to its Rules Committee before it left town, adding more bad feelings to an acrimonious political atmosphere.

The conference report for HB 1224, which did not become law, does the following:
  • limits the local government sales and use tax rate to 2.5%;
  • allows Durham, Orange, Forsyth, Guilford, Wake and Mecklenburg Counties to retain a local sales and use cap of 2.75% if a majority of voters in those counties approve the levy of a 0.25% sales and use tax for public transportation, for public education, for general purposes, or for a combination;
  • directs Revenue Study Laws Committee to study historic rehabilitation incentives;
  • adds "historic rehabilitation incentives" grants;
  • makes various changes to tax and economic development laws;
  • clarifies the confidentiality of unemployment compensation records; and
  • makes technical corrections to the revenue laws.
The politics will continue as both chambers of the General Assembly are working/meeting/fighting/ignoring/adjourning on Thursday. This bill is eligible for consideration tomorrow but we hear the House won't take it up.

Reminder! This bill has not been enacted!

Link the Conference Committee Report here: http://www.ncleg.net/Applications/BillLookUp/LoadBillDocument.aspx?SessionCode=2013&DocNum=9708&SeqNum=0

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