Legislative Briefing ~ 1.12.18

Legislative Briefing ~ 1.12.18

Homeowners Insurance Rate Filing DENIED

The NC Department of Insurance announced late last week that the NC Rate Bureau’s 2017 Homeowners Insurance Rate Filing has been denied.
As soon as the filing was submitted on November 17th, NCDOI staff began reviewing the 2,000+ pages to determine if the Rate Bureau’s statewide average increase request of 18.7% was warranted.
A public comment session was held in Raleigh on December 12th and only 4 people attended the session to speak. All spoke in opposition of the filing. The public comment period ran through December 29th. As of December 12th only 94 citizens had commented online. Through a grassroots last minute effort, led by the Outer Banks Association of Realtors and the Outer Banks Home Builders Association, over 9,000 comments were submitted on the filing by the deadline!
The hearing, however, may not even take place. The NC Rate Bureau can continue negotiating with the NC Department of Insurance and reach a settlement on rate changes prior to the hearing.

More information in the NCDOI Press Release below:

Insurance Commissioner Causey rejects proposed Homeowners Insurance rate increase: Sets Hearing Date

RALEIGH — North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has set July 23, 2018 as the hearing date for the North Carolina Rate Bureau’s proposed 18.7 percent homeowners insurance rate increase.
“We are not in agreement with the Rate Bureau’s proposed increases filed Nov. 17, 2017. The next step, according to statute, is to set a hearing date,” said Commissioner Causey. “After hearing and reading the more than 9,000 comments from residents across the state and studying the figures in the filing, it is now necessary to hold a hearing to reach a resolution that will make the most financial sense for our residents and insurance companies.”
The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. in the Second Floor Hearing Room in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh.
The hearing will be held unless the N.C. Department of Insurance and N.C. Rate Bureau are unable to negotiate a settlement before that date. State law gives the Insurance Commissioner 45 days to issue an order once the hearing concludes. This means the order could be issued in October 2018. Once the order is issued, the NCRB has the right to appeal the decision before the N.C. Court of Appeals. A Court of Appeals order could then be appealed to the N.C. Supreme Court.
The NCRB and DOI can settle the proposed rate increase at any time during litigation.
The NCRB filed the average 18.7 homeowners increase Nov. 17, 2017. The filing covers insurance for residential property, tenants, and condominiums at varying rates around the state. Under the NCRB proposal, the biggest increases would be felt along the coast. The NCRB has requested certain areas of western North Carolina receive small rate decreases. These areas include Haywood, Cherokee, Mitchell rand Avery counties. Anson, Montgomery, and Richmond counties would also see small rate decreases.
The NCRB represents insurers that write the state’s homeowners policies. It is a non-profit unincorporated rating bureau separate from the Department of Insurance. The NCRB also represents auto and workers compensation insurance companies.
The NCDOI held a public comment forum regarding the NCRB rate filing Dec. 12, 2017. Six people attended the forum, including Rep. Bob Muller, R-Brunswick, and Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort. The department also received comments via email and U.S. mail through Dec. 29, 2017.
The last NCRB homeowners rate increase filing was in 2014 that resulted in an order of “no change” from the Commissioner of Insurance. In 2012, the NCRB requested a 17.7 percent increase, which was settled for an increase of 7 percent that took effect in 2013.
For more information on the proposed homeowners rate changes by territory, see tables in this
 Homeowner Rate Territories PDF.

Ruling on NC Redistricting Makes National Headlines

A federal 3-judge panel ruled this week that NC’s Congressional Map is unconstitutional. Maps will need to be redrawn for 2018. This ruling is significant and has made national headlines.
Read more:

Why North Carolina redistricting ruling could end gerrymandering as we know it
NC Lawmakers Don’t Say Much About Redistricting, But A Past Contract Does
North Carolina Is Ordered to Redraw Its Congressional Map
NC congressional districts struck down as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders
Federal court voids North Carolina’s GOP-drawn congressional map for partisan gerrymandering

REMINDER: Alligator River Bridge to Close January 10th through January 16th

NCDOT will close the Alligator River Bridge between Tyrrell and Dare counties to all vehicle traffic and boat navigation for one week in January. The closure will be in place from 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 10 through Tuesday, Jan. 16.
The closure will allow crews to perform major renovation work on the bridge’s swing-span drawbridge. Workers will be repairing and replacing electrical and mechanical components located beneath the bridge’s swing span. The work is part of an extensive renovation project designed to extend the life of the 58-year-old bridge. The $16.7 million contract was awarded to Flatiron Constructors of Morrisville, NC back in March 2017.
During the closure, NCDOT will have detour signage and variable message signs in place to guide motorists through the following detour routes:
Motorists traveling east from Columbia should use N.C. 94 South to U.S. 264 East to U.S. 64.
Motorists traveling west from Dare County to Columbia should use U.S. 264 West to N.C. 94 North to U.S. 64.
Motorists traveling to the Outer Banks from areas west of Williamston should use U.S. 17 North to U.S. 158 East.
Motorists traveling from the Outer Banks to points west of Williamston should use U.S. 158 West to U.S. 17 South to U.S. 64 West.
The project will require another week-long closure for the bridge in March 2018. The dates for that closure have not been determined at this time.
For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on Twitter.

Comment on NC Wildlife Resources Commission Coyote Management Plan

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is seeking public comment through Feb. 9th on its draft Coyote Management Plan.
Comments can be submitted by email to coyotemgtplan@ncwildlife.org or mailed to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Coyote Management Plan, MSC 1722, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1722.
The agency developed the187-page plan at the request of the N.C. General Assembly to address the impacts of coyotes in North Carolina and the threats that coyotes may pose to citizens, industries, and populations of native wildlife species in the state.
The draft Coyote Management Plan provides biological information on coyotes in North Carolina, identifies concerns about coyotes, outlines the challenges of coyote control and provides strategies to minimize impacts of coyotes. The plan also outlines statutory changes that will improve coyote management, identifies known knowledge gaps and research needs and recommends new biological and social strategies to address coyote management issues.
The final plan, which will include public feedback, will be presented to the Wildlife Commissioners for their approval at their Feb. 22 business meeting.
For more information on coyotes in North Carolina, click here.

Town/County Updates

Dare County – During Monday’s Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting, David Pergerson, Carolina Designs Realty was appointed to the Dare County Tourism Board as the Outer Banks Association of Realtors® representative. Congratulations David!

Southern Shores – – Town Council met on Tuesday and held a public hearing on a zoning text amendment on Sec. 36-171 of Town Code – Lot Disturbance and Stormwater Management. The only person to speak during the hearing was the Government Affairs Liaison for the Outer Banks Home Builders Association. Willo Kelly relayed concerns from the building community that the proposed language could prove very costly for smaller projects such as landscaping projects in which there was no additional lot coverage and an engineer or surveyors services were required.
Council approved the proposed amendment that adds the following language:
• No fill material may be placed on a lot in the side setback areas unless the final slope is equal to or less than 3:1.
• The zoning administrator may modify an existing lot disturbance and stormwater management permit requirement during the construction process.
• All required stormwater improvements shall be maintained in a manner that ensures that the improvements will continue to satisfy all applicable requirements in the issued permit.
• A certification executed by the person duly authorized by the state to prepare such plans attesting to compliance with all applicable stormwater requirements shall be shown on the survey as required by the zoning administrator.
Planning Chair Sam Williams provided an update to Council on zoning options regarding regulating the removal of trees on private property. After a lengthy discussion on the six options presented Council voted 3 to 2 to not pursue any changes to Town Code. Council also voted by majority to not use taxpayer dollars to update the Town’s Land Use Plan this year. Local Land Use Plan updates had been funded by the state in years past. They are also no longer required to be updated in a certain time as they had before. Funds allocated in the budget for that purpose were re-allocated to a Capital Reserve Fund.

The Planning Board’s Special Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 3rd has been rescheduled to be held during the regularly scheduled Planning Board meeting on January 16th at 5:30 p.m. Board members will be discussing side yard setback requirements for 50 ft. wide lots and will continue discussion of Module One of the Town Code Update Project. Potential topics of discussion include: parking requirements for rental properties, commercial design standards, relocating oceanfront homes, and Module One Notes. Module One, in addition to other Town Code Update Project information, can be found on the Town website here.

Kitty Hawk– Town Council will hold a special meeting on Friday, January 12 at 10 a.m. due to their January 8th regularly scheduled meeting being cancelled.
The agenda can be found here under New Business is an update on Dare County Flood maps.

In the News

Commissioner Rejects Proposed NC Homeowners Rate Increase

Cooper Asks Feds to Exempt NC from Offshore Drilling

NC Reverses Building Code Changes

NC Lawmakers Back at Work

Here’s What is in the Tax Bill for You

Upcoming Meetings

Monday, January 15
Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

Tuesday, January 16
9:00 a.m. – Nags Head Planning Board
9:30 a.m. – Oregon Inlet Task Force
5:30 p.m. – Southern Shores Planning Board
5:30 p.m. – Kill Devil Hills Planning Board
7:00 p.m. – Dare County Waterways Commission

Wednesday, January 17
4:00 p.m. – Manteo Board of Commissioners Workshop
6:00 p.m. – OBHBA General Membership Meeting, Roosters Restaurant

Thursday, January 18
8:30 a.m. – Nags Head Board of Commissioners Retreat
8:30 a.m. – OBAR General Membership Meeting, Captain George’s Restaurant

Friday, January 19
8:30 a.m. – Nags Head Board of Commissioners Retreat
10:00 a.m. – Kitty Hawk Town Council Special Meeting

Advocacy, Legislative Briefing