State lawmakers adjourn - sort of

Posted June 29
Updated June 30

— State lawmakers passed an adjournment resolution early Friday that will bring them back to town in August, September and then again by November to draw new legislative districts.

For many years, the state's part-time legislature went home in the summer after the long session in odd years and didn't return until after the primary elections the following year. But beginning with the Republican takeover in 2011, that practice changed, and "extra" or special sessions became standard procedure in interim periods.

The resolution unveiled in the House Rules Committee on Thursday night is closer to a punctuated recess than an adjournment.

It mandates that lawmakers will return on Aug. 3, a Thursday, to consider overrides of any vetoes issued in the interim by Gov. Roy Cooper, as well as the impeachment of state officials, conference committee agreements struck in the interim or any other live bills eligible for the session.

The bill sets the next convening date on Wednesday, Sept. 6, at which time lawmakers can take up judicial redistricting – a proposal that remains on hold after its unveiling Monday in the House Judiciary I Committee – as well as city and county redistricting. That session could also include veto overrides, constitutional amendments, appointment confirmations, impeachment of state officials and litigation.

House Democrats balked at the impeachment language in the resolution and voted against it shortly before 3 a.m. Friday. Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, the House minority leader, called the resolution "petty, partisan politics."

The September convening is also expected to include a resolution to reconvene before Nov. 15 to redraw and vote on new legislative district maps. After that, the next specified date would be the 2018 short session, starting on the fairly late date of May 16.

House Rules Chairman David Lewis said the August meeting would be primarily for veto overrides and conference committee reports and that "earnest" work on new legislative maps would likely begin after that.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled three weeks ago that maps drawn in 2011 illegally packed too many black voters into 19 House and nine Senate districts. The court's mandate in the case is due back in North Carolina by Friday.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger appointed members to their respective redistricting committees late Thursday.

Lewis called the redistricting session and appointments "an affirmative statement to the court that we recognize the legislative districts will need to be redrawn in the coming months, and when we receive instructions from the court we will do that."

Because of statutory filing periods and overseas ballot windows, a November date for new maps would make the timing tight for a panel of three federal judges now reviewing the redistricting process to call for a special election before the regularly scheduled election in spring of 2018.


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