The city of Wilmington's state legislative goals are expected to include support for finding ways to fund transportation and infrastructure needs.
The Wilmington City Council heard a summary of the state and federal proposed goals Monday morning from the city's director of legislative and intergovernmental affairs, Kara Spencer, who has been in the post for a little over two months. New Hanover County's state legislators are Republican Senators Michael Lee and Bill Rabon; Republican Representatives Ted Davis and Charles Miller; and Democrat Rep. Deb Butler.
After being sworn in Wednesday, state lawmakers will head back to Raleigh at the end of January for their next session.
"At that point, we'll really begin in earnest our efforts to meet with them and to represent Wilmington's needs and priorities as laid out in our legislative agenda," Spencer told council members during Monday's agenda briefing. The council is scheduled to vote on a resolution authorizing the city's 2023 state and federal legislative agenda at its regular meeting at 6:30 Tuesday in the council's chambers at City Hall, 102 N. Third St.
Providing one example, she said state lawmakers could address transportation and infrastructure funding needs through discussions about alternative methods, such as increased electric vehicle and hybrid vehicle registration fees or a higher highway use tax.
Wilmington's proposed legislative agenda seeks to support transportation and infrastructure funding "that is reflective of the growth and needs of the Wilmington region and our state," according to agenda documents.
Spencer told the council, "We want to emphasize the importance of that transportation funding in terms of maintaining accessibility of the area. That's really a safety issue, so people in natural disasters before during and after, can have access to our city to and to their homes."
During Hurricane Florence in September 2018, flooding led to Wilmington being described as an island by national news sources because of road closures.
Other state goals included in the proposed agenda are to:
- "Support efforts to bridge North Carolina’s rural/urban divide and that benefit the entirety of our state, while opposing redistribution of sales tax revenue.
- Oppose legislation that undermines local government authority and revenue generation; including, but not limited to, municipal elections, sales tax revenue, and local stormwater policies.
- Continue to fund a strong film incentive program and consider public policy that positively impacts film jobs in our state.
- Support a strong and ongoing state response to the discharge of chemicals that may result in the impairment of our waterways, air, and drinking water that ensures that the polluters fund related costs.
- Continue to support revisions of gang and violent crime laws that provide additional tools to local law enforcement and prosecutors.
- Continue to make positive steps to respond to North Carolina’s opioid epidemic that include investments in mental health treatment and services at the local level.
- Support a consistent funding source for coastal infrastructure and shoreline protection that includes beaches, inlets, and waterways.
- Support state affordable housing program funding and the ability of cities to address local challenges such as a strong historic preservation incentive.
- Oppose modifications to the current Room Occupancy Tax distribution formula.
- Support recurring state funding for Regional Search and Rescue Teams."
The city's proposed federal legislative goals for 2023 are to:
- "Support additional funding for infrastructure, local transportation priorities, federal transportation grants and programs, and public transportation programs that emphasize resiliency.
- Support increased federal resources and programs for disaster recovery that have a greater focus on pre-disaster mitigation and flood-ready infrastructure.
- Support continued federal roles in beach, inlets and waterways infrastructure.
- Support resource allocation to local governments, first responders, and mental health entities as part of federal opioid epidemic response. Support Affordable Housing and Historic Preservation funding.
- Oppose seismic testing and offshore drilling off North Carolina’s coast due to grave concerns over adverse environmental and economic impacts to our state’s economy and environment."