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House | April 16, 2013 | Committee Room | House Transportation

Full MP3 Audio File

Representative Boles. Representative Boles moved to the back corner, it looks like. He likes to sit in the back corner anyway. Going to call a meeting, the April 16th meeting of the House Transportation Committee to order. Want to start out with our folks that help us in service every week. The Sergeant at Arms today, Bob Rossey, Martha Parish, and Bill Bass. Pages, if you’ll stand and wave your hand as I call your name. Sierra Owen, Northampton county, Representative Wray. Adam Riddell, Alamance county, Representative Jones. Carson Whitaker, Franklin county, Representative Moffitt. Thank you for your service. One of the bills we anticipate today is not going be on here. The moped bill has been withdrawn a day or so ago. We’ve got two, I hate to say, simple bills. Representative Stam, who has been here most of the day in Education and Transportation, is going present one or two of these bills. House Bill 272 will be our first one. DoT connotation changes. Representative Stam, you are recognized. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Representative Jackson joins me on this along with Representative Bryan. It’s already a House Committee Substitute, we don’t have a new PCS for you. If you ever tried to present a bill that’s already been eviscerated, well… [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Stam, do we need a motion for the PCS? [SPEAKER CHANGES] No, it’s not a PCS. Another committee passed it this way. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Committee Substitute came to us as it is. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Right. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So they’ve already ripped the heart of my bill out. But I’m here to present the easy part, the good parts that everybody love, right Darre? The first one is this, that when DoT in condemnation pays interest on a judgment, it should pay interest until it pays, whereas the current law is that they pay it until the date of judgement. Oftentimes there 30, 60, or even longer time period when they haven’t paid it because of the bureaucracy. Just like in your own personal finances, you have to pay interest on your home mortgage until you pay the payment, not just when it’s due. That section one of the bill. There is a fiscal memo that says that will have a minimal effect beginning in 2018. That’s just fair. Now, section two, and this is one we worked on quite a bit. It sort of looks like its give attorneys fees to attorneys, but actually, if you analyze it, it’ll give fewer attorney fees to attorneys. But it’s also fair. Here’s the problem. DoT lowballs their deposits. Matter of fact, the fiscal memo says that DoT says none of their...listen to this, they say, the Attorney General’s office states nearly all of our verdicts are more than 25% above deposits. We actually heard testimony that, last year, all of them were that. In other words, they lowball. The effect of low balling is that that sends the landowner scurrying to a lawyer. If they would pay closer to market value, more people would negotiate it themselves, and since typically lawyers charge on a percentage, not of the whole recovery, but on the difference between the deposit and what is recovered, it actually would decrease the amount of attorney’s fees being paid by the landowners. But how do we accomplish this? There’s existing law on lines 26 through 29 of some situation where DoT has to pay attorney’s fees. And we’ve added a third category where the final judgement exceeds the amount of the initial deposit by 25% or more. We also have made clear in line 25 that just because the landowner may have contracted for a contingency fee with the lawyer, that doesn’t mean the state pays some contingency fee. It’s limited by the amount, by the prevailing hourly rate where it’s tried. In other words, if you hire a hot

A lawyer from Charlotte to run up to Davidson Co. to try a case, the fees will be based upon the prevailing hourly rate in Davidson, not in Charlotte and that's a limit on existing law. So, that's the bill. The fiscal memo says zero, zero. The next two fiscal years, which is why is probably doesn't have a referral to appropriations. Minimal in the next two years after that and then in fiscal year 2017-18, somewhere between a half a million and 3 million a year. I encourage you for it. Representative Jackson, would you like to step out and be recognized? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Sure. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Jackson is recognized. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I just want to echo what Representative Stam said about the attorney's fees. People look at attorney's running the deal and start to think maybe there's something in it for the attorney. It's actually just the opposite. We'll get less fees if this deal passes. However, it will be better for land owners. I'm one of those 2012 cases where the verdict was less than 25 percent. The state actually had appraisals in that case that were roughly about what the jury awarded and we actually have the document from DOT where DOT refused their own appraisal and then reduced the deposit by about two hundred thousand dollars and that's what they deposited. Cases like that could be avoided if DOT would give a fair deposit based on a real appraisal. I think this will encourage that. It will probably hurt condemnation of lawyers, but I think overall, it would be better for the state. So, I move for adoption. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, questions from the committee. [inaudible] Representative Stam. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you committee. Representative Stam, I heard your comments and I thought the first part was a little funny that two attorneys up here were telling that they were not raising fees. That's almost the joke of the day but anyway, I'll go back to you said we're trying to get the prices more in line and I have the question because the appraisers that do the DOT appraisal work are certified. So, I don't know how we could have two difference prices. I've actually seen some and talked to some of these DOT appraisers and what it sounds like I'm hearing is that the price depends on which attorney you get and if that's not the case why don't we change some rules and regulations into the appraisal department—how they appraise this land versus changing this. I'm just inquiring because I don't know. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Certified doesn't mean that you're going to come up with--if I have five appraisers, all of whom are certified, they're going to come up with five different figures. I'll give you an example from my own law practice. I never tell an appraiser what value I want to have, but I have 3 or 4 appraisers I know that historically appraise low. So, if I'm doing an estate evaluation, I call one of them. I know 3 or 4 appraisers that historically appraise high. If I have a condemnation case, I call them. Then if I have a client who wants to know what to sell his or her property for, like the fair market value, I've got 2 or 3 others appraisers that seem to come right in there. So, I just call the right one. Well, the problem at DOT is that their list is all the low ballers, it's not that the others are not certified. It's just that different people have different ideas of how to approach the value of land. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow-up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow-up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You know, I was under the assumption that we all used comps when we did this. I guess the comps change depending on who the appraiser is. I'll go back to my question is maybe we need to be addressing this with the appraisers. Is there any way to look at how we can address the same question? I don't know, but that's my concern. [SPEAKER CHANGES] No, every appraisers picks his or her own comps and rarely will they pick the same comps; and even if they pick the same comps, they adjust them differently. So, you're always going to have differences with comps. Always. If they get within 25 percent, they've been doing their jobs, but my experience is that they usually come in about 75 percent low. You know.

We’re fifty percent low. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, I’ve got five names so far. Shepard, Cleveland, Jeter, Torbett and Pittman. Shepard? Representative Shepard? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chair. I have a question. Representative Stam, are all the hot-shot lawyers from Charlotte? [SPEAKER CHANGES] No, they’re all over the place. I was… no. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Cleveland. [SPEAKER CHANGES] For a motion at the appropriate time. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, sir. It’s noted. Representative Jeter. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mine was for a motion when appropriate, Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. Representative Torbett. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My question is also for Representative Stamm. We open to the last paragraph. I think it starts on at the end of line 34. Evidently compensation will be rewarded by a judge, including a reasonable attorney. Does that also include an unreasonable attorney? And then I noticed nowhere in here was there a capping of said attorney fees so can you give me an idea of what one of those hot shot lawyers from say up here serving in the general area might charge. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We have dozens and dozens of statutes allowing judges to award attorney’s fees in different kinds of cases. This example, unfair deceptive trade practices, promissory notes. The judges, unless otherwise ordered, the judge consider about six things. One, how much time they spent in it. Number two, the reasonable amount of time they spent on it because judges will chop your hours in half if they think you’ve over-lawyered it. Then they want to know the prevailing fee for similar lawyers in that area and they take affidavits. Then they want to know what results you got and then the judge makes those findings a fact and those are awards. Those are appealable and that kind of thing. What this bill does is not only for this third category of case, but also for the first two category of cases. It says that the limit on attorney’s fees is a prevailing hourly wage fee in that district, in that county, so that you are not… Well, let’s say that you’re in Chatham County, the prevailing hourly fee might be $200 an hour whereas in Charlotte, it might be $400. So it would be capped at $200. That language is a cap. It also says that the judge can’t double it for a contingency or you did a wonderful job and got a good result. He can’t increase it because of the result. It’s a cap. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up, Mr. Chair. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You’re addressing some of the concerns that I have. You mentioned there’s other cases there’s a judgment rendering, for a lack of a better term, I guess damages or paying for whatever, but in a lot of those cases, you mentioned it wasn’t against the state. And when it comes against the state, since we don’t make money, then of course, if it’s filed against the state, its taxpayers’ dollars going to pay for that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That’s the point. [SPEAKER CHANGES] This does not affect what the landowner pays to the attorney. This allows the landowner to get a part of what the landowner paid the attorney back from the state in these three certain cases. But it’s only going to be a part usually because it can’t exceed that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Maybe I can be of some help here. I believe this was in judiciary. Some of these questions may have been vetted there. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, it received a unanimous verdict from Judiciary B. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman, I have a question for the bill sponsor also. This is not the attorney right to work bill. This is a different bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up from Representative Torbett. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I have a closing follow up. The idea that it passes Judiciary unanimously actually concerns me even more. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The chair is trying to be helpful. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, Representative Pittman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Sir, Mr. Chairman, I was going to move for approval, but since George beat me to it, I’m going to let George do it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Starnes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Well, I did have some concerns that Representative Torbett had on the language.

When you turn these things and then a way of any ideas on your solely to give them lots of women belong here last year offered in combination of when of the few places to get some more precise someone from around the middle school earnings at these rates they charge that he may when I returned as the track record when these cases in and made the woman had more anybody is needed to break through the process of proving your nation when and where the whole language safety in regional turns the same effect as-yet this is saying that (SPEAKER CHANGES) Daly’s will turn the box to see the prevailing how early ratings of-court nominee would, also an NBA and I may not get my friends he's a man of vision of the economy charged more than one down the rate was about this bothers me that under the law judge and rational management of the day we will assert that could resist large nets are the opposite concern wretched format of DNA condemnation case would be unthinkable and honor is never made whole clause sub was taken from even if they get just compensation they have to pay all these expenses and unless they decided that their land and other way and they can't pay taxes on the open capital gains taxes seven this is a limited exceptions where the state on its sue somebody who doesn't claim is that anything wrong you have a rather than showing that we do allow a limited amount of the shifting and this is the policy foisted to bank on I thought that since we were getting to your chance of getting attorney's fees by adding the third category which will be all used as were the first two categories that it was clear to the taxpayers to say (SPEAKER CHANGES) all we're not going to all your reimburse you for harried premium for all we are to reimburse you can, or, more often than you can still pay an Atty. with pale just the taxpayer but again if you want a gap that wind that doesn't kill the bill on a system policy tours of all follow question will be one of the state and not to require a call in nomination process and rayon and is well known by the bee and the rest of the resource and when you're one of its 100 is the one in the past where he won this means that an eyeful one day I'd call it a chance of Russian army and what is reasonable eight and human rights commission in and out our fish farms, if your move the language alive 25 the bill will go for it'll still be a good bill that's just realize you're watching the data economy and today is Sunday OT there too long speech issue of the five self in your possession or a coalition government, john and some 50 chief engineer with the idea to audit of this, or two of the year to year to year requires about 3000 abortions or weaken the product and the issuer talk about your flights of less than 5% of those parcels and you find it would've been on the court the NT all is well on their compensation to property owner and also the individual is helping you stores sources and log on to the home as corporate bosses we have appraisals and repair we have been a key adviser and we have probably the work force; but the same rules and cone, so much operational and the and animals in the ??.....

Earlier, appraisers have different opinions about values and packs of roadways in excess of that nature is a partner at a time when they feel the value of property and assume we do have different values are priced with the service partner process we consider those appraisals and budget, the finals and we decide we think is the most appropriate knife, and we begin the negotiation , was popular as far as the destination for some consider that, in bytes of products that calls to go through legal process two to reach a decision on sanctions are much like you expect and that would make me an offer we reach agreements often, and that is a showman of existing language me when we make a claim to popular in the fees to go to different individuals to buy the servers are all part of those discussions between Baltimore and those of the server system on the other two are many black audience on due to the major will enhance property some of the prodigy knowledgeable and so we see some areas where property owners and we acquire land from united plans to do not have acted as a permanent at what is reasonable for the one thing that is as close to be made whole lot of fun and by the daily ??.. and a desperately to let companies yet (SPEAKER CHANGES) Cal the mammal at 7:00 PM on the soles of his rheumatoid at just the agency Chairman Robertson Starnes moves to amend the bill on page one 125 are rewriting the one from the two youths appraisal and there'll be two separate homeland that one reason why one of those online ventures and demanded that of the memo or Z says factoring into a motion for the gym and this is tarnished by news that they noted that in the second the second half of the soul first of all say them a place to (SPEAKER CHANGES) say I'm opposed to it as a pear avenue and memos about them and move back to the original bill and have further questions on bail on discussion that a Russian claims recommends a race chairman of the general is no peace yesterday because of a piece of a lead role as the justice is chairman of the tort just to bring something to do your mission is another minute being branded as we stay relevant to this mail a day of the central demand a democrat Mr. Maffei the eighties and so am as chairman of could be displaced as taken to make still come around and found tolerate with ms 30 seconds and taking suggestions include display system till we get jobs but the SMS volume to Vietnam and Watergate Office as mills hospital 540 -Murray or red sandstone rose garden worried that sustain recognized a share of 40. Owns 545, distorted to get you take ??...

If this in my district that they were the first was misstated by his goals and three-dollar rebounded that I had two complaints about in the last election , but about that old cells with the complaint Saigon were addressed by this bill I had a lady admitted 85¢ bill and later the site and then a month later, $25.00 late fee at another person page 45¢ toll he complained that it must've costs in at least a dollar to see that the costs are 47¢ to pay it and this is sheer economic links with the Finnish chairman from a list of the talking with the folks are different from the interpret or a family of the department recitation there is a turnpike authority on May 2 and they want to discuss this legislation for the turnpike story submission chairman (SPEAKER CHANGES) I would like to display for a return by: has the opportunity to discuss this legislation apologize for taking the committee found a way to the turnpike authority the chance to address this and come up with a solution that that might, might be a little bit better than that in the initial draft that we have so why was that on this chairman I will take any questions about this legislation is a relatively simple conceptually by the one guitar by the way the opportunity to address is some hope in the discussing the digital solutions is a concern of the cost of software of these changes and not by calls for Bridgeport is also some concerns about the impact on the bond and bond that was issued for this for this project as well for the windows for close to doing some action (SPEAKER CHANGES )Mr. Chairman of like having a discussion of sites, and that's the streets place until after the Carmichael has a chance in the midst of a farewell to questions on this bill today on resist arms of the things it was the deal on a mission Indians were waiting in the last hole when you go rid of dollars is what they must be considered a leave of none of this legislation and one other states do they day and then they're there and if additional ways besides just wait until it is to be $5.00 we can do in the middle to us from transaction, bill needed, 30 days to stand by for five consecutive four under a different ways analysts west, we're talking about the turnpike authority but it would not cause any individual view that if it takes some years to get to $5.00 it would be 20.45 and 10% sure to pay his share of some worry what happens if an individual just use the term buy one, five years of age is not ever get a bill that never held a fascinating on sale this rotten that's one the concerns of the Canadian team turnpike authority's arrays and so we do one element among a minimum bill cycle of the Wells and while four on people to actually pay that all of their mayor did you also I said this is still work in progress on completely from working with our friends departures nation and the turnpike authority to get this right and not to the calls the issues with the airline or there or their Software System that a little too six questions and spices film told farmers question of bill sponsored wingback Tony house bill 272 bears amendment before you and love the central and west Lanham, thank you had to take a moment may have staff do a full explanation that is one of them in my colleague, Virginia Starnes understand exactly as our states actively trying to do and I concur with that bet we all agree that a delicate balance between one taxpayer another taxpayer matches one, do here, I guess he's put my LAN, make sure that the taxpayer that is trying to keep his property would say still gets awarded the money and that that goes out of pocket business entirely due in that it would also the Zapatista taxpayers simply can't have run away judgment run away, attorneys' fees each of us are out of the camp will the structure that sellout, let's say respectfully understanding of the represents previous amendment with the monarchy receive nothing to Santa ??.....

A little bit of finality to just hour much can an attorney charge in a judge award so. Yea the sponsors are okay with that amendment. Okay further discussion on the amendment I have a motion Representative Sheppard moves without motion second representative pit-man you heard the motion. all In favor say I, oppose no The I's have it it passes back on the bill. Further discussion further debate we need a motion from resident Cleavland thank you. okay house bill committee for house bill 272 has amended. Throw it into a PCS for favorable report. PCS has amended.Rolling the new amendments into the new PCS. okay is it unfavorable to the original? yes sir. okay unfavorable to the original you heard the motion representative Gil had a discussion or question. It was on the amendment I think he put the wrong line down i think its suppose to be line 25 instead of line 30 I kept looking for it on line 30 and its not on line 30. Staff, the amendment should appear at the end of line 30. It only applies to the new language on lines 29-30. Okay that is correct, further discussion on the motion. Motion on the floor okay you heard the motion Representative Cleavland All in favor say I oppose no. Motion passes Bills approved bill passes. I have no further business we are adjourn