Local News

General Assembly To Vote On Bills Before 'Crossover' Deadline

Posted June 1, 2005

— A deadline looming at the General Assembly will keep bills from becoming law this session if they do not pass at least one chamber by Thursday -- what the General Assembly calls Crossover Day.

One of the most high-profile bills the North Carolina House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on Wednesday is a moratorium on the death penalty.

The bill approved by a House committee Tuesday places a two-year moratorium on executions while the state studies the fairness of the system.

Proponents of the bill are concerned about the adequacy of counsel for suspects and possible racial discrimination in death penalty cases.

Opponents argue they do not deny that there are flaws in the system, but do not see the need to stop executions while the state studies the death penalty. Some also believe the true motive behind the push is to eventually repeal the death penalty entirely in North Carolina.

House Speaker James Black, D-Mecklenburg County, said he planned to call a vote on the measure during session Wednesday afternoon. He admitted the vote will be as close as the lottery bill that passed the House by only a two-vote margin.

Two other bills before the General Assembly include one that would require more fruits and vegetables on school lunch menus and another that would require school vending machines to carry low-calorie snacks, bottled water and ban soft drinks with sugar in middle schools.

Others also facing Thursday's deadline include a bill that limits the power of homeowner associations and one that raises the state's minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $8.50 per hour over a two-year period.

Bills that have a financial component to them, however, are exempt from Thursday's deadline. Bills that do not make the deadline Thursday, some say, could resurface later with a financial component to them.

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