JLARC study, budget issues on county’s legislative agenda

Maintaining local authority over local revenues and land use issues are two of several priorities on the county’s legislative agenda for the 2011 session of the General Assembly.

Mary Ann Curtin, director of Intergovernmental Relations, presented the county’s draft legislative program for 2011 at the Board of Supervisors’ Oct. 27 meeting.

“There’s an awful lot on the plate for the legislators” in 2011, she said, including a special session on redistricting this spring.

“The state budget has not improved significantly,” she said. “They’re going to have some ongoing challenges as we go forward, and I think that’s probably true in every state.”

Among the issues mentioned by board members were the local economy and job creation, protecting land use and zoning authority and maintaining local authority over local revenues.

“You all are much better suited to decide how to spend local tax dollars,” she said. Another local goal is to have the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission study ways to encourage local governments to provide services or build facilities in a cooperative manner, she said.

One key focus area will be responding to recommendations from the Governor’s reform and jobs commissions, she said. Two things that are big concerns for the county – elimination of the machinery and tools tax and the elimination or reduction of the business, professional and occupational license tax – came out of a subgroup of the jobs commission, she said. Local governments successfully fought off elimination of the machinery and tools tax last year, she said.

This year’s specific legislative requests include the JLARC study, she said. The county also wants to get legislation introduced to support summary judgment, she said, which exists at the federal level and allows cases to be settled out of court more quickly.

A Freedom of Information Act exemption will be requested to clarify that criminal search warrants received by the Clerk of the Circuit Court remain sealed until the search warrants are served, she said.

The Board of Supervisors will be asked to adopt the legislative program at its Nov. 17 meeting, Curtin said.

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