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NC Lawmakers Give Unanimous Approval To Florence Bills

Emergency workers inspect a power line that was damaged by a tree uprooted by Hurricane Florence in Mount Olive, N.C., Sunday, Sep. 16, 2018.
Ben McKeown
File photo of emergency workers inspecting a power line in Mount Olive, N.C., after Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina.

Updated at 3:30 p.m.

North Carolina lawmakers have quickly approved their initial legislation designed to address the damage and logistics problems caused by Hurricane Florence.The General Assembly gave unanimous approval Tuesday to a pair of bills now headed to Gov. Roy Cooper, who is expected to sign them into law. Cooper called legislators back for a special session to begin the recovery for what he called an "unprecedented disaster."

The bills put more than $56 million in a special Florence disaster relief fund, most of which can be used to match what the federal government provides in a preliminary relief package. They also allow schools in the hardest-hit areas to be forgiven up to 20 lost instructional days and ensure workers in shuttered schools are paid.

The deadline for traditional voter registration applications also would be extended by three days.

Lawmakers are returning Oct. 15 to take up more recovery legislation.

Updated 12:15 p.m.

The North Carolina legislature is back at work barely two weeks after Hurricane Florence left the state to address challenges for public schools and voters and to set aside matching money to tap into federal recovery dollars.

The General Assembly convened a special session Tuesday called by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to address initial Florence relief. The GOP-controlled legislature has offered bills expected to receive overwhelming bipartisan support from colleagues and Cooper.

One bill eases calendar rules for school districts closed for days or weeks because of damage or stubborn flooding and ensures district employees get paid even when school doors are shuttered.

Another bill would put $50 million in a special Florence disaster fund and extend the deadline for traditional voter registration by three days to Oct. 15.

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