Updated Jun. 25, 2014 at 7:47 a.m.

Governor signs N.C. Commerce privatization bill

Published: 2014-06-25 06:19:00
Updated: 2014-06-25 07:47:39

North Carolina is turning its marketing and job recruitment functions over to a private nonprofit under a bill that cleared the legislature last week and was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday.

The bill that shifts job recruiting from the Department of Commerce to a public-private nonprofit, which has been a pet project of McCrory's since he took office, was one of five he signed. .

Senators voted 49-0 in favor of the bill last week.

"I think it's the best we can get it at this point," said Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, who has been championing the bill since last session. He said that lawmakers may continue to tinker with the legislation in future sessions.

The main idea behind the bill is that the nonprofit group will both court businesses from out of state as well as provide aid to in-state businesses looking for help growing. However, decisions about state-funded incentives would remain under the purview of state officials in the Commerce Department.

Both the Senate and House passed versions of the partnership bill. The Senate included a film grant program designed to lure television and movie productions to the state in its bill.

The House version of the bill, which is the one the Senate sent to the governor, did not include the film program but makes a few changes to the partnership itself. Among the most significant changes: the board members and top executives of the nonprofit corporation will be subject to the state ethics act. This means they will have to submit financial disclosure forms and will be subject to the same conflict of interest laws as lawmakers.

A similar measure stalled at the end of the 2013 legislative session. But a 2013 budget provision cleared the way for the department to begin creating the nonprofit. That work began earlier this year, although lawmakers made clear they wanted final say on the nonprofits governance.

"This is a strong bill," Commerce Sec. Sharon Decker said during an budget committee meeting last week.



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