We wrote previously about North Carolina legislation proposed last year that proposed changes to the rules for authorizing general obligation bond referenda under the guise of “bond referendum transparency.” Those provisions have now been enacted into law, with no changes from the text we analyzed in January.
Our technical and policy concerns with the legislation remain. We think that some of the information we now need to generate is defined ambiguously, and we’re not at all sure it will in fact provide “transparency.” Nevertheless, we agree, of course, that transparency is a laudable goal, and we believe in practice this legislation will really not be hard to comply with, and shouldn’t cause much controversy for the local governments.
The legislation will not affect bonds to be proposed this November, but will affect any bonds to be proposed in 2023 or thereafter.
The General Assembly modified the original bill proposing these transparency changes to add provisions to an “LGC Toolkit.” The new provisions give the LGC further oversight over contracts by local governments on the “Unit Assistance List,” but also allow the LGC to require reporting of “events . . . that will or may have a material, adverse effect” on any locality – not just those on the list. The new legislation authorizes the Treasurer to define the list of events, so that’s something to keep an eye on.