LEGISLATIVE SHORT SESSION
The 2014 “short session” of the NC General Assembly was not short at all. The legislative session began with predictions from House and Senate leaders that they would finish the state’s business by late June or early July. Protracted disagreements over important bills (a revised state budget, insurance coverage for autism therapy, coal ash management, Medicaid reform, regulatory reform, and a new public-private economic development partnership) caused one delay after another.
Most of the issue related to passing the State Budget did not have a significant impact on the camping industry. Here are a few of the details worth noting:
- A law making adjustments to the tax code included language that eliminated cities’ ability to levy “privilege taxes” on businesses effective July 1, 2015
- The ownership of 4-H camps and property was transferred to the State Park System
- The budget maintained the status quo with regard to state ferry tolls. Tolls are currently collected on three routes. Tolls will not be collected on the other four routes for the next year, but the budget retains the options of collecting tolls on those routes in the future
PUBLIC LAND USE
North Carolina State Parks are working on putting together new climbing guidelines that will push most of the camps out of climbing at Hickory Nut Gorge State Park (Rumbling Bald) and other state parks as well. We are working with our lobbyist in order to be a part of the conversation and have a voice in the development of the guidelines.
We have been a part of the national forest planning process and it does not seem that any changes will have a major impact on the camping industry.
FEDERAL CHILD IMPROVEMENT PROTECTION ACTION
While this bill has gained several new co-sponsors in the past few months, it does not appear likely that it will see any significant movement before the elections this fall.
In an attempt to create understanding and urgency, we were able to sit down with Senator Burr’s WNC Director to discuss the advantages of the bill. She has connected us with the Eastern representative and we are in the process of setting up that meeting for eastern members. We will continue to advocate for the expedited passage of this bill.
BUILDING CODE RELIEF FOR SUMMER CAMPS
Listening to the guidance of our lobbyist and our friends in the legislature, we did not push for movement on this initiative in the short session. We will work with Representative Chuck McGrady this fall to develop the appropriate language for the creation of a special R5 residential category for summer camp cabins and to develop a strategy to bring the bill forward in the next long session.