North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

May 10, 2024

Members of the North Carolina General Assembly were back in Raleigh this week for a round of committee meetings and floor votes in each chamber. House and Senate appropriations chairs continued to meet behind the scenes throughout the week to negotiate an agreement on how to spend additional state dollars. Legislative leadership continued to indicate this week that they remain optimistic that lawmakers will be able to meet their end of June, or early July, goal of passing a short session budget, and adjourn short session, for the year.

Meanwhile, in-person early voting in North Carolina’s runoff election, which began on April 25, will end at 3:00pm on Saturday, May 11. The official runoff election day is Tuesday, May 14. Two statewide contests, the Republican nominations for lieutenant governor and state auditor, will be on the ballot for the runoff election.

Hal Weatherman and Jim O’Neill will compete for the Republican nomination in the lieutenant governor’s race, the winner of which will face current state Sen. Rachel Hunt (D-Mecklenburg) in the November general election. Jack Clark and Dave Boliek will compete for the Republican nomination for state auditor, the winner of which will face incumbent Democrat Jessica Holmes in the general.

While there will be a congressional race included on the ballot for the Republican nomination for US House District 13, Brad Knott is the only candidate that remains in the race. Kelly Daughtry announced last week that she would be stepping out of the runoff race, endorsing her opponent, Brad Knott instead. Daughtry will remain on the ballot as she dropped out of the race after early voting began.

For more information on how to vote in the statewide runoff election, visit the State Board of Elections website, or click here.

Code Reforms

A Senate bill aimed at amending various building code reforms throughout the state, which had stalled in the House during the long session, has quickly moved through the chamber since the short session began on April 24. SB 166: 2024 Bldg. Code Regulatory Reform came over to the House containing just one of the provisions included in the final bill considered by lawmakers this week. The latest version of SB 166 makes various changes to development regulations and North Carolina Building Codes, restructures the Building Code Council, and amends various regulations for construction contractors and design professionals.

The provision originally included in the Senate version of the bill would prohibit certain backflow preventer, or a device or method that prohibits the backflow of water into potable water supply systems, installations. The bill would prohibit mandating backflow preventers for existing nonresidential or residential connections unless specifically required by state or federal law or deemed necessary due to a high hazard by the Department of Environmental Quality. The provision includes exceptions for installations mandated by the State Plumbing Code or the North Carolina Fire Code due to certain circumstances like retrofitting or changes in property use. Additionally, local governments retain the authority to require backflow preventer installation if the local government covers all associated costs.

Additionally, SB 166 would:

  • Prohibit entities that provide water service to customers from requiring the installation of duplicative water service shut-off valves in a residential dwelling subject to the North Carolina Residential Code
  • Clarify that fees collected by a building inspection department must be used to support the administration and operation of the building inspection department only
  • Require a local government that is reviewing a residential building plan for issuance of a building permit to perform the initial residential building plan review concurrently with the development approvals required by other government agencies within 20 business days of submission
    • If a local government does not conduct the initial building plan reviews within the 20-day window, the permit applicant may receive a refund of ten percent of the application fee for each business day, up to ten business days
  • Prohibit administrative staff to require unrestricted right of entry as a condition of development approvals
  • Specify that municipal development regulations cannot require a developer to design and construct pedestrian facilities, like sidewalks, for subdivision developments unless the municipality also agrees to the long-term maintenance of those facilities
  • Prohibit a political subdivision from adopting a local fire prevention code provision that would apply to certain dwellings that are not required by the North Carolina Residential Code
  • Require the North Carolina Code Officials Qualification Board to develop a State Building Code Permit Technician certificate program and certificate
  • Clarify that local governments reviewing plans cannot make administrative decisions based on the appropriateness of the scope of work covered by architect and engineer seals of design
  • Amend the statutes governing how the North Carolina On-Site Wastewater Contractors and Inspectors Certification Board regulates on-side wastewater professionals by raising licensing fees, updating education requirements, and creating a new private compliance inspector license
  • Allow private compliance inspectors to inspect certain on-side wastewater systems for the purposes of issuing an operation permit
  • Increase fees for licensed soil scientists
  • Reduce the minimum setback between water supply wells and on-site wastewater systems in a saprolite system to 50 feet
  • Reorganize the Building Code Council to have 13 members who are appointed by the General Assembly and the Governor to mirror the organization of the Residential Code Council

Many of the objections to the bill by the time it was heard on the House floor Wednesday centered around the number of new provisions added to the now 63-page bill and how quickly it moved through committees and to the floor for a final vote. Supporters of the bill spoke to the bill sponsor’s efforts, Rep. Mark Brody (R-Union), to address any concerns raised by stakeholders and other House lawmakers.

The House passed SB 166 in a final 72-34 vote Wednesday afternoon, sending the bill back to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Monday, May 13

11:00 AM House: Session Convenes
3:00 PM Senate: Session Convenes

Tuesday, May 14

11:00 AM Senate: Judiciary
2:00 PM Senate: Finance

Wednesday, May 15

10:00 AM House: Local Government
10:00 AM House: Judiciary 2
12:00 PM House: Judiciary 1