Legislature Labors to Adjourn
Special Report - August 7, 2009
Now that the Budget bill has passed, the North Carolina General Assembly can see the light at the end of the tunnel and has set its sights on the adjournment of the 2009 session which should come early next week. The Senate has announced that it will work through Friday, then let members go home for the year. A small number of Senators will come back next week for a pro-forma session that will allow House-passed bills to be ratified and sent to the Governor. Meanwhile, the House worked late into the night on Thursday and went home for the weekend. They are scheduled to return on Friday for session and at this writing, plan to finish up their work on Tuesday.
Thursday's session was hectic as both the House and Senate held some committee meetings in the morning, with the Senate getting an earlier start to their session than the House. Both chambers would meet for awhile and then recess so committees could meet, often on the floor of the respective chamber around the desk of the chairman of whatever committee needed to do business. Since lobbyists and the public are allowed to attend these meetings, there would usually be a rush from the gallery to the chamber floor, where everyone would strain to hear what was being said before members would vote on whatever measure was being considered.
About 7:30 Thursday evening, it became apparent that the House would not have time to recess for supper and complete their work for the week by the 9:00 PM deadline for the daily session adjournment that their own rules stipulate. The Rules Committee Chairman, Rep. Bill Owens (DPasquatank), made a motion to suspend the rules so the House could continue to meet indefinitely. Republican Leader, Rep. Paul Stam (DWake) countered with a proposal to adjourn by 10:30 PM. They comprimised on 11:00 PM and took a 20-minute break for food.
"This is not as bad as it has been in some years," commented Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. "These end of year sessions used to go until five minutes til midnight, at which time the clock at the back of the chamber would be stopped to preserve that legislative day and the House would labor on til four or six in the morning before they finished. There will always be plenty of bills and it seems there is no end to the laws that someone wants to pass."
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