Last week was the busiest week of the session so far. The reason for this hectic activity was that legislative leaders decided they wanted to adjourn in late June, so any bills of general application that would likely pass were run last week. Why?
Bills of general application, in contrast to local bills only affecting one or a small number of municipalities or counties, become law when the Governor signs them, or if he takes no action on them within a certain period of time, or if he vetoes them and the veto is overridden by a three-fifths vote of both the House and the Senate. When the legislature is in session, the Governor has ten days to sign, not sign or veto a bill. When the legislature is not in session, the Governor has 30 days to take action.
So if the legislature doesn’t want to come back for veto override sessions, it must pass bills of general application at least ten days before the adjournment date, which is likely to be Friday, June 29. Other bills of general application can still be considered but any such bill needs to be totally noncontroversial since legislative leaders are not likely to let a controversial bill move forward.
So if we’re not taking up bills of general application, what are we going to do this week and next week? First, both the Senate and the House voted to override two vetoes relating to judicial districts in Charlotte and Raleigh. Senate Bill 757 [Various Court Districts Changes] and to certain election rules, SB486 [The Elections Security and Transparently Act], and I voted to override both of Governor Cooper’s vetoes.
Second, neither the Senate nor the House has taken action on most local bills. It is expected that the legislature will take up some number of local bills. My Senate colleague, Sen. Chuck Edwards [R-Henderson], has two local bills which may be considered. First, the City of Hendersonville has asked to deannex some property parcels within the city, SB776 [Hendersonville Deannexation]. I support that bill, and will likely carry the bill on the House floor. He also has introduced SB813 [Asheville City Council Districts] to establish Asheville city council districts following the city council’s refusal to create districts. Edwards amended his original proposal to make sure that no current city council members would be forced to run against another incumbent, and there are discussions about a further change to the bill.
Third, bills putting constitutional amendments on the ballot do not require gubernatorial action. Consideration of constitutional amendments was put off until the end of the session, since Governor Cooper doesn’t play a role in the passage of these. Constitutional amendments relating to voter ID. HouseBill 1092 [Constitutional Amendment-Require Photo ID to vote], right to hunt and fish SB677 [Protect Right to Hunt and Fish], Marsy’s law HB551 [Strengthening Victims’ Rights], state income tax SB75 [Constitutional Amendment-Max income Tax Rate of 5.5% state income tax cap], merit selection for judicial vacancies, and state board of election will likely move forward.
The next ten days are going to be like a legislative roller coaster ride. Anyone who says they know what is going to happen or what is going to pass is fibbing. The next week will be a long one, and this legislator is looking forward to coming home.