Legislation Advances Several NCEDA Policy Priorities
A number of bills supporting of NCEDA’S ambitious 2019 legislative priorities are gathering positive momentum. Lawmakers have taken action on broadband, workforce development and economic incentives, issues that align with the organization’s public policy objectives.
“We are pleased at the progress for the NCEDA agenda, and the support from members has been effective,” said Dave Horne, a partner at Smith Anderson Law Firm who leads NCEDA’s lobbying team. Several key measures addressing the organization’s broadband, workforce development and incentives priorities are moving forward. “While gains have been made, much work is to be done, and we encourage members to respond to legislator communication requests.”
One week after the General Assembly’s “crossover” deadline, items gathering momentum included:
- The House-approved budget contains $2.8M in recurring funding for Career Coaches, a top priority NCEDA is pursuing in partnership with the NC Community College System.
- There is also $15M in recurring funds for the “GREAT” Program, one of three rural broadband measures the organization is supporting pursuant to its infrastructure priorities.
- As part of that same digital infrastructure priority was House passage of H387, which clears the way for Electric Membership Cooperatives to provide Internet services.
- S378 unanimously passed the Senate. This bill removes the state requirement for a redundant set of local hearings by county and municipal governments for economic development expenditures during the fiscal year.
- H258, which extends eligibility for Utility Account grant requests to include rural census tracts in most Tier 3 counties, passed the House by a comfortable margin.
- The House budget provides $250,000 in one-time promotional funds for EDPNC’s food-manufacturing cluster development efforts. Additional global marketing support for EDPNC and Commerce has long been an NCEDA priority.
“NCEDA leaders and members have joined together in making this success possible, along with the obvious and deft leadership of our lobbying counsel at Smith Anderson,” said Lawrence Bivins, managing director for policy and public affairs at NCEDA. Crossover amounts to “the legislative equivalent of half-time,” he says, “and there’s still plenty of game ahead.” The organization’s lobbying team anticipates more direct advocacy will be needed by NCEDA members as the 2019 General Assembly session moves into summer.