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Lawmakers postpone annexation vote

RALEIGH (AP) ó North Carolina lawmakers have postponed a vote on reforms to the state’s law allowing involuntary property annexation until they know what some changes could cost.
The state House on Wednesday voted 60-59 to send the measure to the budget-writing Appropriations Committee. The bill lacked a cost estimate of the added staff and equipment needed for a Local Government Commission to carry out new oversight duties.
North Carolina is one of a handful of states that allows cities to expand against property owners’ wishes. Lawmakers are hearing from constituents who feel cheated by being forced to pay city taxes they didn’t want and municipal leaders who believe the law stopped suburbs from siphoning away revenues.
In other General Assembly news:
– A plan to increase maximum monetary penalties for businesses that break child labor and some workplace safety laws is one vote away from final passage. The Senate voted unanimously to double many fines for youth employment violations and when safety rules broken result in the death of a worker under 18. Maximum fines for businesses that violate employment law would double from $250 to $500 for first-time violators and increase to $1,000 for further violations. Safety law violations would draw even higher penalties. The bill would go to Gov. Beverly Perdue’s desk if the House agrees to Senate changes.
– People and media organizations that successfully sue governments for public records would be more likely to recover their legal fees under legislation approved by a House panel.
– Contractors having a hard time moving unsold homes can delay paying property taxes on them for up to three years in legislation given final approval. The House bill approved 44-2 in the Senate on Wednesday now goes to Perdue’s desk to be signed into law.
– Repeat drunken-drivers who get their license revoked could get their permit back after a clean criminal and traffic record for 10 years. The bill now returns to the House, which must decide if it will accept the Senate’s changes.

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