AN ACT TO ENACT THE HURRICANE FLORENCE EMERGENCY RESPONSE ACT.
Part I names the the act "The Hurricane Florence Emergency Response Act."
Part II states legislative findings on the impacts and damage caused by Hurricane Florence and the need for legislative action to provide relief to and facilitate recovery efforts on behalf of North Carolina citizens and local governments devastated by the Hurricane.
Part III creates the Hurricane Florence Disaster Recovery Fund (Fund) with the purpose of providing necessary and appropriate relief and assistance from the effects of Hurricane Florence consistent with the provisions of the act and subsequent legislation addressing the same. Provides that the Fund is to be administered by the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) or another State agency as determined by the Governor. Requires that all State and federal funds appropriated for Hurricane Florence relief and recovery efforts be budgeted and accounted for in the Fund established in this act. Limits withdrawals from the Fund to those justified by a State agency as needed funds related to Hurricane Florence recovery efforts. Provides that funds of the Fund not expended, made subject to an encumbrance, or disbursed are to remain available to implement the act's provisions and subsequent acts necessitated as a result of Hurricane Florence until the General Assembly directs the reversion of the unexpended funds. Requires reversion to the Fund of funds received by a State agency from the Fund that are not expended, made subject to an encumbrance, or disbursed to another entity at the end of each fiscal year. Requires funds received by a non-State entity from the Fund that, after three years, are not expended, made subject to an encumbrance, or disbursed to a subgrantee to be returned to the Fund.
Part IV provides for funding for disaster relief as follows.
Directs the State Controller to transfer $56,500,000 for the 2018-19 fiscal year from the Savings Reserve in the General Fund to the Hurricane Florence Disaster Recovery Fund (Fund). Of that amount, allocates $6,500,000 to the Department of Public Instruction to supplement or replace lost compensation of school lunch employees due to school closures resulting from Hurricane Florence. Additionally, allocates the remaining $50,000,000 for purposes of (1) providing the State match for federal disaster assistance programs and (2) paying for the costs, relief and assistance authorized by GS 166A-19.42(b) concerning expenditures from the State Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund, applicable to those counties that are or become designated under a major disaster declaration by the President under the Stafford Act as a result of Hurricane Florence.
Provides that the appropriations made in the act are for maximum amounts necessary to implement the act and that savings should be effected where the total amounts appropriated or allocated are not required to implement the act.
Appropriates funds received on or after September 13, 2018, under the federal Stafford Act and other federal disaster assistance programs for State disasters as a result of Hurricane Florence in the amounts provided in the notifications of award. Requires the OSBM and affected State agencies to report all notifications of award to the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations and the Fiscal Research Division of the General Assembly.
Part V provides authorization for various measures to implement the act, including:
Section 5.3 provides the following election relief measures.
Allows for voter registration applications for the November 2018 election to be submitted until 5:00PM on October 15, 2018, with those submitted by fax or scanning having a permanent copy of the completed and signed form delivered to the county board of elections no later than October 20, 2018. Permits a county board of election by unanimous vote to provide for a substitute one-stop site for absentee ballots to be applied for and cast during the statutory period for the November 2018 election, if the one-stop site was damaged by Hurricane Florence. Authorizes a county board of election to adopt a resolution altering voting places for the November 2018 election if a voting place was damaged by Hurricane Florence and the county board provides notice of the location change in the most expedient manner possible. Allows for the notice of change in location through public service announcements, print, radio, television, online and social media. Allows for a county to alter a voting place for a precinct damaged by Hurricane Florence as provided in GS 163A-1047 (Satellite voting places), GS 163A-1048 (Out-of-precinct voting), and GS 163A-1049 (Temporary use of two voting places for certain precincts). Applicable to those counties designated under a major disaster declaration by the President under the Stafford Act as a result of Hurricane Florence as of October 2, 2018, and limited to the November 2018 election only.
Directs county boards of elections to educate the public about voting in the November 2018 election by (1) including information on county board of elections websites, if applicable, about voter registration and voting options and (2) including a brief statement regarding how to obtain information on voting for individuals impacted or displaced by Hurricane Florence when publishing notices of elections for the 2018 general election.
Similarly, directs the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to educate the public about voting in the November 2018 election by (1) including voter registration and voting options on its website; (2) distributing information about voter registration and voting options to State agencies, shelters, groups, and other organizations serving persons impacted or displaced by Hurricane Florence; (3) coordinating with State and federal agencies to identify and notify persons displaced by Hurricane Florence about voter registration and voting options, including county specific information as to early one-stop voting locations and times when practicable; (4) disseminating information about voter registration and voting options, including same day registration during the early voting period, mail-in absentee voting, and early one-stop voting; and (5) assisting any county board of elections altering one-stop sites and voting places for the November 2018 election authorized by the act.
Appropriates $400,000 from the cash balance in specified Budget Code in the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to implement Section 5.3.
Section 5.5 allows the waiving of fees assessed by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) against residents of counties impacted by Hurricane Florence for duplicate driver's licenses, duplicate commercial driver's licenses, initial or duplicate special identification cards, duplicate or corrected certificates of title, replacement registration plates, duplicate registration cards, and late payment of motor vehicle registration renewal fees. These fee waivers are effective September 13, 2018, and expire December 31, 2018. Allows a resident to receive a refund of any fee assessed and collected by the DMV and waived pursuant to Section 5.5. Requires the DMV to post notice of the availability of a refund on its website.
Section 5.6 authorizes the Governor to waive the fee assessed by city and county building inspectors and credited to the Homeowners Recovery Fund for the reimbursement of homeowners suffering reimbursable losses in constructing or altering a single-family residential dwelling unit, applicable to permit applicants who are residents of counties impacted by Hurricane Florence. Allows permit applicants to receive a refund of any fee assessed and collected by city and county building inspectors and waived pursuant to Section 5.6. Requires a city or county subject to Section 5.6 to post notice of the availability of a refund on its website. These fee waivers are effective September 13, 2018, and expire December 31, 2018.
Section 5.7 directs the Governor to ensure that state disaster relief funds are not expended in a manner that adversely impacts federal assistance eligibility for individuals and businesses, and to avoid expending state funds to cover costs that will be covered by federal funds.
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