With Most Work Done, NC Legislative Deadline Passes Quietly
A North Carolina General Assembly parliamentary deadline designed to pare down what bills will be considered through 2022 passed quietly Thursday without the last-day clamor of previous biennial sessions.
The Senate debated and voted on fewer than 10 bills on Thursday morning before adjourning for the weekend. The House completed its work late Wednesday afternoon after voting on or otherwise disposing of over 130 bills during floor debate this week. The full Senate approved more than 40 bills this week.
Under the "crossover deadline," bills unrelated to taxes or spending, elections or a few other exceptions that didn't pass one chamber by Thursday face long odds for consideration during the rest of the biennial session. There are ways to bypass the deadline, however.
Measures approved this week included those addressing criminal justice reforms, the minimum age to marry, and how teachers in K-12 schools should address certain instruction about race and on biological sex.
While the House met until 10 p.m. Tuesday, the two chambers this week avoided burning the midnight oil, something required of lawmakers in previous years, regardless of which party was in power.
"This crossover has been the most organized, calm crossover that I can recall," Senate leader Phil Berger, a Rockingham County Republican who was first elected to the chamber in 2000. "It's not just the Senate, but the Senate and the House — both have gotten to crossover without a whole lot of folks running around like their hair's on fire."
Bill passed by the Senate on Thursday included those that attempt to stop fraudulent invoices mailed to unsuspecting older adults and provide more fiscal information to voters before a local bond referendum is held.
Republican legislators returning to work next week will try to make headway on how much money the General Assembly intends to spend next year for the upcoming budget. The Senate otherwise was supposed to have completed its version of a two-year budget by now.
Berger told reporters on Thursday that Senate Republicans have made a counteroffer to a House spending number but that the two chambers remain "pretty far apart." Lawmakers last week said the bottom-line numbers for the two sides differed by less than $500 million. That compares to the $24.5 billion the state is expected to spend this fiscal year operating state government.