The North Carolina General Assembly wrapped up this year’s session this past week. Here’s a quick look at some of the action and how connections to Asheville:
-District elections for Asheville City Council: Lawmakers approved a bill requiring district elections for Asheville City Council. An amendment to allow City Council to appoint an independent group to draw those districts was removed from the final version of the bill, which is set to take effect in 2019. Here’s the Blue Ridge Public Radio report on district elections for Asheville.
Meantime, members of Asheville City Council have openly expressed their distaste for the legislation and moved forward this week with putting a question on the November ballot asking voters if they want district elections. If voters say “no,” that could add weight to a possible legal challenge by the city of Asheville. City Council member Julie Mayfield, in an update to the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, noted that in two similar cases of the General Assembly forcing to local governments, those instances were challenged in court and found to be unconstitutional. Blue Ridge Public Radio has an interview with Mayor Esther Manheimer here, who talks about a possible legal challenge to the bill.
-Alcohol laws: State lawmakers made several changes to North Carolina alcohol laws. Ward & Smith attorneys Derek Allen and Justin Lewis published an informative roundup. Here are a few items of interest:
-Local county and city governments may adopt an ordinance allowing for the sale of malt beverages, unfortified wine, fortified wine, and mixed beverages, beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday.
-Distilleries may now sell up to five bottles of spirituous liquor directly to consumers in a 12 month period.
-Breweries are now expressly permitted to provide samples of their beer, either paid or complimentary, to customers, visitors, and employees for consumption on premises.
-Brewers may consume samples of alcoholic beverages they are licensed to sell on their premises for purposes of sensory analysis, quality control, or education.
-Homebrewers may make, possess, and transport wines and malt beverages for the individual’s own use, the use of the individual’s family and guests, or the use of organized affairs such as homebrew competitions.
– A state cate: N.C. Rep. John Ager’s bill to have the bobcat named the state cat didn’t get much traction, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. Ager, of Buncombe County, ran up against his colleague from Buncombe, N.C. Rep. Brian Turner, who was pushing for the catamount to be named the state cat.