GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA
SENATE BILL 127
Short Title: Customer Srvc., Econ. Dev., and Transport'n .
Senators Brown (Primary Sponsor); and Cook.
February 25, 2013
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT TO establish uniform geographical administrative divisions for the state and to create the commission on Regionalization Conformity to develop recommendations on (i) conforming the existing regional divisions of the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the seven regional commissions and partnerships to these uniform divisions, and (ii) a schedule for conforming regional divisions of other state agencies that have regional offices.
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
PART I. CREATION OF UNIFORM REGIONAL DIVISIONS
SECTION 1.(a) Intent to Create Uniform Regional Divisions. - It is the intent of the General Assembly to establish geographically uniform administrative regions in this State for State agencies that have regional offices and, to the extent feasible, to consolidate regional offices and to establish a one-stop source in each region for citizens and businesses seeking State services at a regional office.
SECTION 1.(b) Establishment of Regional Divisions. - For purposes of regionalization conformity, the State is hereby divided into seven regions as follows:
(1) Region I, consisting of Buncombe, Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, and Yancey Counties.
(2) Region II, consisting of Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yadkin Counties.
(3) Region III, consisting of Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Orange, Rockingham, Rowan, and Stokes Counties.
(4) Region IV, consisting of Anson, Cabarrus, Chatham, Hoke, Lee, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph, Richmond, Scotland, Stanly, and Union Counties.
(5) Region V, consisting of Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Granville, Halifax, Johnston, Nash, Person, Vance, Wake, Warren, Wayne, and Wilson Counties.
(6) Region VI, consisting of Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender, Robeson, and Sampson Counties.
(7) Region VII, consisting of Beaufort, Bertie, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Greene, Hertford, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Northampton, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Tyrrell, and Washington Counties.
PART II. IMPLEMENTATION OF UNIFORM REGIONAL DIVISIONS IN PROGRAMS ADMINISTERED BY THE DEPARTMENTS OF TRANSPORTATION, ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, AND THE REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSIONS AND PARTNERSHIPS
SECTION 2.(a) Agency-Level Study Required. - The following shall each conduct a self-study of (i) how their processes for customer and regulated client services and their existing regional alignments and online services may be most efficiently and economically aligned with the regions set out in Section 1(b) of this act and (ii) how their programs and activities at the regional level may be best coordinated with those of the other entities listed below and with other State agencies to create one-stop regional services for citizens and businesses:
(1) The Department of Transportation.
(2) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
(3) Each of the four regional economic development commissions created in Chapter 158 of the General Statutes (the Western North Carolina Regional Economic Development Commission (AdvantageWest), North Carolina's Northeast Commission, the Southeastern North Carolina Regional Economic Development Commission, and North Carolina's Eastern Region Development Commission).
(4) Each of the three remaining regional economic development partnerships (the Charlotte Regional Partnership, Inc., the Piedmont Triad Regional Partnership, and the Research Triangle Regional Partnership).
Each entity shall report the results of the study to the Study Commission on Regionalization Conformity no later than September 1, 2013.
SECTION 2.(b) Funding. - Each entity conducting the self-study directed in subsection (c) of this section shall use funds otherwise available to the entity to conduct the study.
SECTION 3.(a) Creation of Commission. - The Study Commission on Regionalization Conformity is established in the General Assembly.
SECTION 3.(b) Membership. - The Study Commission on Regionalization Conformity shall consist of eight members, four Senators appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and four Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
SECTION 3.(c) Cochairs; Vacancies; Quorum. - The Study Commission on Regionalization Conformity shall have two cochairs, one designated by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and one designated by the Speaker of the House of Representatives from among their respective appointees. The Commission shall meet upon the call of the cochairs. Any vacancy on the Commission shall be filled by the original appointing authority. A majority of the members of the Commission constitutes a quorum.
SECTION 3.(d) Compensation; Administration. - Members of the Study Commission on Regionalization Conformity shall receive per diem, subsistence, and travel allowances in accordance with G.S. 120-3.1. The Commission, while in the discharge of its official duties, may exercise all powers provided for under G.S. 120-19 and G.S. 120-19.1 through G.S. 120-19.4. The Commission may meet in the Legislative Building or the Legislative Office Building.
With approval of the Legislative Services Commission, the Legislative Services Officer shall assign professional staff to assist the Study Commission on Regionalization Conformity in its work. The House of Representatives' and the Senate's Directors of Legislative Assistants shall assign clerical staff to the Study Commission on Regionalization Conformity, and the expenses relating to the clerical employees shall be borne by the Commission. The Study Commission on Regionalization Conformity may contract for professional, clerical, or consultant services as provided by G.S. 120-32.02.
SECTION 4.(a) Duties. - The Study Commission on Regionalization Conformity shall study and develop recommendations to implement the alignment of the regional divisions of the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the seven regional commissions and partnerships ("the entities" or "these entities"). The study shall include a review of the self-studies submitted by these entities. The recommendations shall include:
(1) Within each region, a location suitable for a shared regional office. In developing this recommendation, the Commission shall consider:
a. The need to include at a future time the regional offices of additional State agencies and programs.
b. The need to reduce any economic impact on localities losing existing regional or local offices.
c. How well a consolidated regional office at this location would be able to interface with other regional entities and multicounty areas.
d. Any savings or additional costs that may result from the choice of location.
e. Any other factor the Commission identifies as relevant.
(2) A plan for shared regional facilities and shared staff, equipment, and support services located at the regional facilities. The plan may include provisions for dual employment status and for intra-agency funding agreements among the entities that may need to be made. In developing this plan, the Commission shall include the identification and consideration of any savings or costs that may result, including possible reductions in staff and the need for training new staff at new locations.
(3) A plan for cross-training staff who provide direct services to citizens and businesses, especially frontline staff.
(4) Which services and programs provided by these entities at regional offices can be consolidated. In making this recommendation, the Commission shall identify what improvements in service to citizens and businesses and what savings or additional costs may result.
(5) A plan to enhance communication between the entities.
(6) Whether entities should share or cross-link Web sites.
(7) A plan for requiring local commerce entities to leverage private funding whenever possible.
(8) A proposed time line for implementation of the Commission's recommendations. In developing the time line, the Commission shall identify and consider as factors current leases, current contracts that would be affected by the proposed consolidation, obligations under federal law, any need for the economic development partnerships to amend their articles of incorporation, the need for legislative or administrative rule changes, and any other factor the Commission identifies as relevant.
(9) Other State departments, agencies, boards, or commissions with regional offices that should be aligned with the uniform regional divisions established in Section 1(b) of this act and a proposed schedule for studying their alignment.
SECTION 4.(b) Additional Study. - The Study Commission on Regionalization Conformity shall also study and identify whether there are (i) opportunities for citizens and businesses seeking services from the entities or (ii) activities performed by the entities at regional offices that could be better done by that entity's office in Raleigh through the Internet or other means or that could be better done at the county or local level.
SECTION 4.(c) Report. - The Study Commission on Regionalization Conformity shall report the results of its study and its recommendations to the General Assembly. The Commission shall file an interim report with the 2014 Regular Session of the 2013 General Assembly and a final report with the 2015 Regular Session of the 2015 General Assembly. In addition to the recommendations required by subsection (a) of this section, the reports shall include any savings or added costs identified by the Commission that would be likely to result from establishing uniform regions and consolidating regional offices. The reports may also include any recommended legislative changes, including conforming amendments.
SECTION 4.(d) Agency Cooperation. - All State departments and agencies and local governments and their subdivisions shall furnish the Study Commission on Regionalization Conformity with any information in their possession or available to them.
SECTION 4.(e) Commission Termination. - The Study Commission on Regionalization Conformity shall terminate on July 1, 2015, or upon the filing of its final report, whichever occurs first.
PART III. EFFECTIVE DATE AND CONSTRUCTION
SECTION 5. Nothing in this act shall be construed to obligate the General Assembly to appropriate funds to implement this act.
SECTION 6. This act is effective when it becomes law.