Raleigh, N.C. — It's an issue that just won't play possum.
The House Rules Committee on Tuesday gutted a Senate bill and placed language related to the annual Possum Drop in Clay County into it.
This is the latest legislation involved in the long-running dispute over whether a Brasstown businessman can hold its annual event during which a captured possum in a plastic box is lowered to the ground to ring in the new year. The practice has drawn ire from animal-rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which say the practice is cruel and violates state law. Backers of the drop say the critter in question is well treated.
The bill passed by the House Rules Committee repeals a 2014 local law known as the "Possum Right to Work Act" that applied only to Clay County. It leaves in places a 2015 law that says state wildlife laws, which ordinarily preclude the capture of live wild animals, don't apply to possums anywhere in the state from Dec. 29 through Jan. 2 each year.
The bill next goes to the House floor.