Could North Carolina’s economic development be slowed down by … a opossum?
It could, according to Democratic Sen. Jeff Jackson of Charlotte.
The Senate was debating a bill last week to suspend the state’s wildlife laws from protecting opossums from Dec. 29 to Jan. 2 to accommodate the annual New Year’s Eve Possum Drop in the Clay County town of Brasstown.
The bill is opposed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Jackson rose to say his fellow lawmakers were about to enter “the land of the absurd.”
He said it would cause a “25-year-old software engineer” to think twice before coming to the state.
“You think of North Carolina and what pops into your head is the state that legalized the ‘You-can-do-anything-you-want-to-a-opossum-for-five-days’ bill,” he said. “That’s really strange, and it makes you unpopular.”
That prompted a response from Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Hendersonville Republican.
“As they say up in the mountains,” he said, “I guess you could say he ain’t from around these parts.”
The bill passed 38-9. Jim Morrill and Craig Jarvis
Loss of one tax forces hikes in others
Charlotte isn’t the only city considering hiking property taxes to make up for the loss of the business privilege license tax.
According to the League of Municipalities, property tax hikes are being considered in cities from Asheville in the west to “Little” Washington in the east. Hickory, Cary and Statesville are among the places taxpayers could see an increase.
The General Assembly eliminated the business tax last session. For Charlotte, that meant a loss of $18 million on top of losses from a property revaluation.
“What we know, anecdotally, is that it is a mixed bag,” said Scott Mooneyham, a league official.
“Obviously, Charlotte has been hit both by the business license tax loss and the evaluation issue. Some cities, though, with that year to prepare and an improving economy, saw enough sales tax revenue growth to be able to avoid property tax hikes and budget cuts.
“Others were hit hard by the loss, had rising demands on services and/or did not see enough sales tax growth to make up the loss.” Jim Morrill
“By passing this bill, we’ll have fewer reports to go through, so therefore we’ll save trees.”
– Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, on how the environment could benefit from a bill requiring fewer environmental impact statements on projects involving state money or public land.