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Senate gives preliminary approval to adjusted historic rehabilitation tax credits bill

A state House bill that would extend state historic-rehabilitation tax credits gained preliminary Senate approval on Wednesday.

House Bill 399 received a 40-0 vote on second reading. Because it involves taxes and finances, the bill has to wait at least one day for the third reading before being returned to the House.

HB399 resurfaced after four months Tuesday as part of the mini-budget initiative by Republican legislative leadership.

The initial version of the bill focused solely on historic-rehabilitation tax credits and allowed for several funding options. It passed the House on a 113-5 vote June 5.

The latest version of the bill was subject to a “gut and amend” strategy.

The new version grafted several tax-related elements from the Republican state budget compromise that was vetoed June 28 by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Since the House overrode Cooper’s veto in controversial manner Sept. 11, the Senate has yet to take up its veto override vote.

The bill now just extends two deadlines for qualified rehabilitation expenditures and expenses.

For projects initiated on or after Jan. 1, 2020, the deadline now extends to Jan. 1, 2024.

For projects started before Jan. 1, 2020, the deadline extends from Jan. 1, 2028, to Jan. 1, 2032, to have properties placed into service by that time.

HB399 now includes: an income exclusion for IRA distribution for charities for individuals ages 70½ and older; certain tax deduction for amounts received as economic incentives; a sales tax exemption for American Airlines at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport; and a sales tax exemption for certain professional motorsports teams.

“I would be surprised at this point if either the House or Senate would put forward any mini-budget that does not have widespread agreement within the Republican caucuses of both legislative chambers,” said Mitch Kokai, senior policy analyst for Libertarian think tank John Locke Foundation.

“No one wants to spend October revisiting the budget deliberations of May and June.”

Rep. Stephen Ross, R-Alamance, a primary sponsor of the original version of HB399, said in April that extending the expiration date on the historic-rehabilitation tax credits makes sense given that more than 2,400 projects have benefited since 1998 with a combined capital investment of more than $1.6 billion.

An office in Ross’ office said Tuesday that Ross is expected to be favorable of the Senate changes to HB399.

The tax credits have been instrumental in several projects in downtown Winston-Salem, with a combined capital investment value of more than $700 million.

“For some time, there has been an interest in renewing this program for the sake of many downtown areas predominantly,” said Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth.

“With many aging structures in our downtown areas, there has been interest in incentivizing restoration.”

The Republican tax-reform code foundation approved in 2013 eliminated numerous popular tax credits — including for historic rehabilitation — and exemptions in a trade-off for increasing the standard tax deduction. Several key Senate leaders worried that making any changes to that foundation would open the door to unraveling it completely.

In 2015, then-Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, crisscrossed the state in support of restoring the historic-rehabilitation tax credits. The legislature approved extending the tax credits in September 2015 to Jan. 1, 2020.

The initial version of HB399 would raise the expense cap from $10 million to $15 million to receive a 15% tax-credit rate. It would raise the expense cap from $20 million to $25 million for a 10% tax-credit rate.

The bill would extend the expense amount from $20 million to $25 million for a 5% bonus for projects in Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties.

State law requires state Commerce Department officials to annually rank the economic health of all of the state’s 100 counties, with the 20 most prosperous counties as Tier 3, the next 40 counties as Tier 2, and the 40 most distressed counties as Tier 1.

Forsyth and Guilford counties are currently listed as Tier 2, which means that historic-rehabilitation projects would qualify for the 5% bonus.

The bill also extends the million to $25 million for a 5% bonus for projects if the certified historic structure is located on an eligible targeted investment site.

State and local briefs

Pickup hits stopped school bus with nine students

A pickup hit a school bus carrying nine students Wednesday morning in the 1000 block of North Peace Haven Road, authorities said. The bus driver sustained a minor injury.

The incident happened at 8:09 a.m. when Tamika Monique Quick, 43, the bus driver, had stopped her bus to pick up a student, Winston-Salem police said. Primitivo Gonzalez Jimenez, 52, was driving a 1989 GMC pickup that struck the rear of the school bus, police said.

After the crash, Quick complained of neck pain, and emergency medical technicians took her to a local hospital, police said. None of the students nor Jimenez were injured.

The bus was carrying the students to Mount Tabor High School, police said.

Jimenez was cited for failure to reduce speed and driving with no operator’s license, police said.John Hinton

Davidson County deputy dragged by vehicle in Lexington

A Davidson County Sheriff’s deputy received medical treatment after being dragged by a vehicle during a traffic stop Wednesday morning.

The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office charged 17-year-old Nicholas Andrew Myers, 17, of Lexington with a deadly weapon on law enforcement officer and resisting public officer.

He was held on a $85,000 secured bond.

Lee O. Sanderlin

Downtown motor vehicle collision sends two for medical treatment

A two-vehicle collision in downtown Winston-Salem led to at least two individuals being transported to a local hospital Wednesday morning.

The collision occurred about 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Fifth and Marshall streets. The vehicles involved were a gray Toyota Tacoma truck and a blue Hyundai Sonata.

A male passenger in the back seat of the Tacoma was treated with a neck brace and put on a stretcher before being taken in an emergency medical vehicle.

A woman was taken separately in an EMS vehicle with an injury to her right arm.

Winston-Salem police said both injuries were non-life threatening.

Police said it had not determined what caused the collision. The front right hood of the Tacoma was dented, as was the right passenger door of the Hyundai.

Richard Craver

Bill named for trooper killed is now law

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper has signed legislation that raises criminal penalties against those who assault on-duty officers with a gun and is named for a slain state trooper.

Cooper signed on Wednesday the measure named for Trooper Kevin Conner after it was approved last week by the General Assembly. Conner was fatally shot last year after stopping a vehicle on a Columbus County road for speeding. Two people await trial in Conner’s death.

Cooper said he called Conner’s widow to tell her he signed the measure.

The measure also increases penalties when emergency service workers who are seriously attacked and provides an additional $100,000 death benefit to the survivors of slain public safety employees.

3 more standalone spending measures head to governor

RALEIGH — Three more spending measures gleaned from the vetoed North Carolina state budget bill have cleared the General Assembly and next go to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.

The House voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday for legislation that funds transportation projects and the community college system. And the Senate gave final approval to fund new prosecutor positions and judgeships as more young offenders enter the juvenile system starting Dec. 1.