The North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh. File photo by Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press

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RALEIGH — In case you’re keeping count, the total number of state Senate bills filed in the 2015 session of the N.C. General Assembly is up to 711. The number of state House bills is at a mere 400, but keep in mind that the House has a later deadline than the Senate, which required all legislation not dealing with the budget to be filed by last Thursday.

That brought a flood of bills — with just shy of 200 bills were filed in the Senate on Thursday alone — and a few typos. One bill still had the sponsor’s notes embedded in the text.

The new proposed legislation covered issues that ranged from symbolic to substantive, from the transformation of the state Medicaid system to authorization to replace the statue of former Gov. William Brantley Aycock in the National Statuary Hall with one of evangelist Rev. Billy Graham.

Bills specific to Western North Carolina include another school calendar flexibility bill aimed Ashe and Watauga counties (H387); an act to allow Polk and Transylvania counties and the towns of Columbus, Rosman, Saluda, Tryon and the city of Brevard to enroll their employees in the state health plan (H370); and an act to change the make up of the Tri-County Community College Board of Trustees (H393).

While the Senate may see a pause, the flow of legislation continues this week from the House, where the local bill deadline is Wednesday, April 1, and the deadline for all public bills not related to appropriations or finance must be filed by April 8.

The new crossover deadline adopted by the Senate is April 30. Bills that have not passed at least one chamber of the legislature by that date are deemed dead for the session.

New analysis shows 3 WNC counties, 32 towns to lose revenue under sales tax plan

While the process for local and public bills goes on, North Carolina’s budget work also continues. Last week saw a handful of bills changing the state tax code, including a possible revival of the historic property tax credit.

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One key tax bill, which would restructure the distribution formula for sales taxes, continues to draw scrutiny, especially after a new analysis showing the bill’s impact on some cities and towns. The way the bill was drafted would hit some cities hard. And due to the variations in the way counties divide up sales tax revenue, it would, in some cases,  result in different outcomes for towns within the same county.

In Watauga County, for instance, Boone would see a jump in revenue while the rest of the county’s towns would see a drop. In all, the new analysis shows 32 out of 61 Western North Carolina cities and towns would lose revenue under the proposed distribution formula.

The bill’s main sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, said over the weekend that he would likely rework the bill, S369, to reduce “unintended consequences” for cities. Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, and Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, are both cosponsors of the bill.

Brown has said that he is pushing the change in the state sales tax system to give rural counties a greater share of the revenues. While most of WNC counties would benefit from the plan, Avery, Buncombe, Macon and Watauga counties and some towns in the region would see a large drop in revenues.

Here’s the breakdown from the legislature’s Fiscal Research Division of the impact of the bill as it is now written (with losses noted in parenthesis):

Avery County: ($318,228)

Banner Elk: ($90,265)
Beech Mountain: ($2,148)
Crossnore: ($14,380)
Elk Park: ($40,240)
Grandfather Village: ($2,236)
Newland: ($60,369)
Seven Devils: ($2,505)
Sugar Mountain: ($17,447)

Buncombe County: ($15,599,925)

Asheville: ($4,153,714)
Biltmore Forest: ($699,090)
Black Mountain: ($108,929)
Montreat: ($223,605)
Weaverville: ($428,028)
Woodfin: $276,108

Cherokee County: $644,986

Andrew: ($71,714)
Murphy: ($66,872)

Clay County: $836,197

Hayesville: $37,884

Graham County: $614,707

Fontana Dam: $3,701
Robbinsville: $64,392
Lake Santeelah: ($50,965)

Haywood County: $1,135,552

Canton: ($196,829)
Clyde: ($57,864)
Maggie Valley: ($49,799)
Waynesville: ($464,234)

Henderson County: $1,682,224

Flat Rock: $260,182
Fletcher: $114,642
Hendersonville: ($216,889)
Laurel Park: ($103,885)
Mills River: $818,076
Saluda: ($3,747)

Jackson County: $26,890

Dillsboro: $6,984
Forest Hills: $49,575
Sylva: $73,292
Webster: $57,957

Macon County: ($1,022,132)

Franklin: $154,729
Highlands: ($40,292)
Maiden: ($587,811)

Madison County: $2,231,853

Hot Springs: $16,037
Mars Hill: $74,078
Marshall: $25,372

McDowell County: $1,744,131

Marion: $366,573
Old Fort: $13,146

Mitchell County: $98,718

Bakersville: $36,938
Spruce Pine: $17,565

Polk County: $1,891,600

Columbus: $14,590
Saluda: $11,416
Tryon: $29,107

Rutherford County: $2,345,257

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Bostic: $43,503
Chimney Rock Village: ($1,851)
Ellenboro: $112,324
Forest City: $459,719
Lake Lure: ($578,663)
Ruth: $40,508
Rutherfordton: $67,059
Spindale: $197,496

Swain County: $915,446

Bryson City: ($15,591)

Transylvania County: $775,367

Brevard: $78,143
Rosman: $69,244

Watauga County: ($1,394,220)

Beech Mountain: ($1,241,659)
Blowing Rock: ($978,447)
Boone: $575,237
Seven Devils: ($210,723)

Yancey County: $1,258,074

Burnsville: ($6,978)

Correction: The breakdown of town losses and gains has been updated to reflect the correct location of Highlands.

Kirk Ross

Based in the Triangle, Kirk Ross is the capital bureau chief for Carolina Public Press. Contact him at kross@carolinapublicpress.org.

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