RALEIGH — Many lawmakers and lobbyists eschewed wingtips and heels for the comfort of sneakers as the looming crossover deadline meant a couple long days and nights this week at the General Assembly.
The spike in activity on Jones Street comes ahead of a looming Thursday crossover deadline in which legislation must make it out of one chamber and to the other in order to remain legislatively viable.
On the Senate side of things voting sessions ran late into the evening Wednesday wrapping up just before 10:00 p.m., but ultimately less harried than the House as senators were able to adjourn Thursday morning after a few votes.
During the longer Senate session Wednesday, one of the most notable actions was a vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of House Bill 239. Cooper vetoed the bill after claiming the reduction in the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12 encroached on the governor’s authority to make vacancy appointments to that bench.
Republican senators, though, were resolute in their support of the bill as a supermajority in the upper chamber voted to override the veto after the House had earlier done the same. With the Senate vote the legislation became law “notwithstanding the objections of the governor” at 9:37 p.m. Wednesday evening.
“Even though he says partisan politics has no place on the bench, the fact is Roy Cooper previously packed the Court of Appeals with Democrats and just replaced a Republican appellate court judge elected by the voters with his handpicked Democrat replacement who was twice rejected by the voters,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham).
“I am pleased this bill undoing his partisan court-packing scheme and making the court more efficient is now law.”
Among the multitude of bills passing the Senate and crossing over to the House was Senate Bill 486, establishing uniform voting hours across all precincts. The legislation will require that if any precinct extends voting hours, then all precinct voting hours must be extended as well.
Senate Bill 660 would make certain changes to economic incentive programs so that more emphasis is placed on developing more distressed areas of the state.A legislative commission would be formed by Senate Bill 335 to explore the “fair treatment of college student-athletes” within the context of the massive financial benefits colleges and universities realize from college sports programs.
The commission would be chaired by the lieutenant governor and explore issues such as profit-sharing agreements and physical and mental health and wellness issues.Sen. Norman Sanderson (R-Carteret) was able to pass an immigration law compliance bill out of the chamber before the deadline.
Senate Bill 145 creates penalties for localities and UNC System institutions that flout immigration law in attempts to achieve “sanctuary” status. The bill threatens to pull tax funds from cities and schools if the designated authorities find the entities in willful noncompliance of federal immigration law.
A Senate resolution to apply to Congress for an Article V “Convention of the States” was passed in that chamber Wednesday night. The bill sponsors aim to have North Carolina join with other states to call a Constitutional Convention for the purposes of proposing amendments to the governing document.
The Senate also passed House Bill 467 back to the lower chamber after some committee modifications. The Agriculture and Forestry Nuisance Remedies bill would limit compensatory damages in nuisance claims against farms and forestry operations to no more than the fair market value of the affected property.
And while many bills were busy crossing over, Senate Bill 131 was ratified and sent to the governor for signature. The Regulatory Reform Act of 2016-2017 cleared the General Assembly after lawmakers failed to pass additional reforms last year. The collection of technical regulatory changes marks the sixth such reform bill passed by Republicans since earning legislative majorities in 2010.
While the Senate has adjourned for the weekend, the N.C. House is still hard at work at the time of publication.
Check in for Mollie Young’s reporting on N.C. House crossover activities as representatives continue to hold votes throughout crossover day.