Big change: Asheville, cities may get sales tax

(Asheville Citizen-Times) Cities around North Carolina may get the option to create their own sales taxes, a potentially historic move in a state where local governments have limited taxing authority. A bill in the state House would allow counties and cities to levy a quarter-cent sales tax and use the proceeds as they wish. The new revenue would ease pressure on property owners and give local governments more options after the state eliminates a business tax this summer, state lawmakers supporting the bill said. Mayor Esther Manheimer said she didn’t know if a majority of the City Council would support adding a sales tax, but called it a “positive opportunity” that would allow the city to collect more tourist dollars.

Read the full report HERE>


House panel OKs legal driving privileges for illegal immigrants in NC

(Raleigh News & Observer) The “Highway Safety/Citizens Protection Act,” sponsored by Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican from Salisbury, made it through an N.C. House judiciary committee on Wednesday, but not without criticism. Proponents say the bill would lead to safer roads and create a more uniform system for acceptable ID cards in immigrant communities. Critics describe the measure as another step toward amnesty that would encourage, not discourage, immigrants here illegally to settle in North Carolina. “This bill, I want to say, has nothing to do with immigration, immigration law or immigration reform,” Warren told an overflow crowd at the meeting. An estimated 325,000 people live in North Carolina illegally, Warren said, and some 90,000 to 110,000 of them are of driving age.

Read the full report HERE>

Bill would block public access to police body cam footage

(Greensboro News-Record) A local legislator has filed a bill that would allow police body camera videos to be withheld from the public. Officials from Greensboro and other cities have asked legislators to set some policies regarding when the videos can be released, since more municipalities are outfitting officers with the cameras. State Rep. John Faircloth (R-Guilford) filed a bill this week that would make videos captured by law enforcement body and dashboard cameras one of the records police departments may shield from public inspection. If the bill becomes law, people would not have a guaranteed right to review police body camera videos.

Read the full report HERE>

Is government secrecy going too far in Bent Creek deal?

(John Boyle, Asheville C-T) So, just how comfortable are you being in the dark? In Buncombe County, you better learn to adjust, especially when it comes to secret economic deals. You may be getting a sense of deju vu all over again, a la the Project X saga of 2013. That deal, an expansion of the GE Aviation facility in south Asheville, involved months of closed-door negotiations and ultimately $11.2 million in state and local incentives. Buncombe County also constructed a building valued at $18 million-$20 million for GE in Sweeten Creek Industrial Park. More recently, Buncombe County bought 137 acres in Bent Creek off Ferry Road for $6.8 million to entice an economic development prospect.

I’ve learned that the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County has asked the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners to sign a nondisclosure agreement that prohibits it from disclosing any details of a deal for up to two years after the nondisclosure agreement ends. If commissioners sign on the dotted line, they can’t talk about any potential deal for two years, even if it doesn’t work out with the company. It’s hard to decipher the legalese, but that seems like an awful long period of silence.

Read the full article HERE>

Parents in trouble for letting kids walk alone

(WUSA-TV) Maryland parents accused of child neglect for letting their kids roam around their neighborhood had to retrieve them from the county’s Children’s Protective Services after police removed the youngsters from a park. Montgomery County police and county Children’s Protective Services are jointly investigating the Meitivs of Silver Spring for allowing their children to walk repeatedly around the neighborhood alone. The parents say they know where their children are but are allowing them independence. Officers picked up the children about two blocks from home, Rafi said, telling them they would drop them off at home. Instead, the two sat in a patrol car for 2½ hours then were taken about 10 miles away to Children’s Protective Services offices in Rockville, Md. The Meitivs said they had taken the children to the park at around 4 p.m. and told them to be home by 6 p.m. When the children hadn’t returned by 6:30, the Meitivs started looking frantically for them. Social workers did not contact them until after 8 p.m., the couple said. Their children were released to them at 10:30 p.m. To take the children home, the Meitivs had to sign a safety plan that prohibits them from leaving their children unattended, they said.

Read the full story HERE>

I have wings that have sprung free. Come fly with me.