Senator Brown Constituent Update March 7, 2013
Jones and Onslow Counties- 6th District
300-B Legislative Office Building
300 N. Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
March 7, 2013
The week has been busy. It is expected that the Governor will present his budget soon and I’ve been meeting with Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs to discuss budgetary goals.
On Tuesday, Senate Bill 58, Increase Funding for Dredging, was heard in the Senate Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee. In the past, federal funds have paid for dredging; however, these funds are no longer available. This bill would increase registration fees (which I absolutely hate) based on the length of the vessel in order to fund dredging of coastal shallow-draft inlets. A provision in the bill would require local governments to match state funding for any dredging project. As this bill moves to Finance, it is expected that the exemption for commercial fishing vessels will be removed. This is a fair compromise since all boat owners benefit from registration fees which in addition to paying for the regular dredging of shallow inlets also pay for boating access and enforcement.
On Wednesday, I met with Senate and House conferees to discuss Senate Bill 10, Government Reorganization and Efficiency Act. This bill eliminates or changes the compositions of several regulatory, rule-making and oversight boards, many of which have not been meeting on a regular basis. This bill will also allow the new Governor an opportunity to set a new direction for North Carolina state government by allowing him to appoint members who share his vision for reforming and fixing State government.
During the Wednesday session, I took a point of personnel privilege to speak on a topic which I’ve been attempting to address since elected to the Senate- rising property insurance rates. The Insurance Commissioner agreed to allow companies to raise homeowner’s insurance policies by a statewide average of 7 percent a year starting in July. The impact to coastal and beach properties is even more dramatic. Homes along the beach in Onslow county could be hit by a premium of as much 19.8 percent. The rest of Onslow County will see an 8.6 percent increase while Jones County residents fortunately will only see a 1 percent increase. The settlement also eliminates the need for a June hearing where the companies and Insurance Department staffers were scheduled to present arguments for and against the industry’s October increase request. If you are as frustrated as I am, I would recommend that you call the Insurance Commissioner at (800) 546-5664.
Thursday the Senate passed House Bill 10, Remove Route Restriction for NC 540 Loop. The bill will now return to the House for concurrence. This bill takes the General Assembly, a political body, out of the business of choosing which toll road projects should be built. The bill also removes the mandate in state law requiring proposed toll projects for Gaston County and Wilmington-area roads and for the Mid-Currituck Bridge to be built. Deleting the Garden Parkway, Cape Fear Skyway and the coastal bridge from state law won’t necessarily cancel these toll projects. They will revert back into the pool of road construction projects being evaluated and prioritized by the state Department of Transportation. This change would free up $63 million annually to increase the state’s Mobility Fund, which spends money on projects of statewide or regional significance that reduce congestion. Hopefully this will also help keep the Highway 17 project in Jones County on schedule.
I also met with North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association (NCADA) Board members. As a former Chairman of the NC Automobile Dealers Association, I know firsthand the importance of the automobile industry. In the State, it is estimated that 27,800 people are employed by new car and truck dealerships with a total annual payroll of $1.26 billion.
We are ready to assist you with any questions, ideas or concerns you might have. You may contact the office via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (919) 715-3034. If you need to contact me in the district, my number is (910) 347-3777.
Have a great weekend!