RALEIGH, North Carolina
An annual work period of the North Carolina General Assembly that spanned 14 months as a state budget was finalized and district maps were redrawn twice essentially ended concluded Thursday with the passage of a clean-up bill and the support of a resolution supporting Ukraine.
With the House vote now complete, the Legislature will send Governor Roy Cooper’s office an omnibus measure that included technical and substantive changes to items contained in the current two-year state government budget and other legislation. recently approved.
The provisions included helping more businesses with a COVID-19 economic stimulus grant program, raising the wages of more home health and personal care workers covered by the relief programs. health care at $15 an hour and the extension of a federal crop loss program to a hard freeze last spring. Changes were also made to the distribution of funds for local capital projects.
The 52-page bill, which already received Senate approval on Wednesday, also guarantees that any runoff in the May 17 primary election will be held on July 26. were for appointments to the United States Senate or United States House. Election officials feared finding workers for the day after Independence Day.
When the legislature officially ends its business session that began in January 2021 on Friday, it will be the longest such session since at least 1965, calculated by the number of days lawmakers held floor meetings, according to legislative data. When all scheduled meeting times are added, the House had 198 daily floor sittings as of Thursday, with the Senate 196 legislative days.
“We’ve set a record,” House Speaker Tim Moore, a Cleveland County Republican, told fellow House Speakers, “and I hope that’s a record we won’t try to break. I definitely won’t.”
The House also unanimously passed a resolution Thursday saying it “stands with the Ukrainian people as they fight for their freedom” against the Russian invasion. It also urges the federal government to hold the Russian government accountable for its actions and to “take steps to reduce United States dependence on foreign oil by increasing domestic energy production.”
The resolution also calls for federal law to be changed so that state pension funds can seek damages in court if they lose money to “corrupt regimes and foreign state corporations.” That could lead to Russian assets being seized as compensation, according to state treasurer Dale Folwell’s office, which supports the idea. Senators made a somewhat similar request on Wednesday.
Historically, the first odd year of the biennial session of the General Assembly ends in the summer. But that didn’t happen in 2021, as COVID-19 precautions and federal aid, a later tax filing deadline, a multibillion-dollar revenue surplus, and lengthy budget discussions between Republican legislative leaders and the Democratic governor pushed work through the fall.
“Everything has happened this year,” said Rep. Robert Reives of Chatham County, who had just become the House Democratic leader in early 2021.
And although the redistricting was completed in early November, disputes over the maps and the resulting uncertainty prompted legislative leaders to keep the session open, leading to numerous pro forma meetings. The General Assembly returned to vote in late November, mid-January, and finally mid-February, when a state Supreme Court ruling invalidated congressional and legislative maps as illegal partisan gerrymanders forced reshuffles. The final legal challenge ended earlier this week.
The approved resolution officially closing the 2021 session gives the General Assembly the option of holding three days of meetings in early April and early May, but a senior senator said they were unlikely to be used. If true, the legislature would not need to return until May 18 for the start of its traditional session in even-numbered years.
The adjustment of the second year of the current biennial budget is the main responsibility of the legislators during this “short session”. Moore and Senate Rules Chairman Bill Rabon said this week the goal was to keep the upcoming session truncated. Recent “short sessions” have ended at the end of June or July.