Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning, and welcome to a Special Session edition of Today@NCCapitol for Friday, Dec. 15. Here's what's going on at the General Assembly:
ELECTIONS BILL: The state Senate passed a bill to merge the state Board of Elections and Ethics Commission on Thursday over the objections of Democrats who said there was no reason to move so quickly other than to punish incoming Gov. Roy Cooper.
The bill has moved onto the House, where the Elections Committee gave its blessing Thursday night. Committee members made two tweaks to the measure. One delays the transfer of the Secretary of State's Office's Lobbying Compliance Division into the new board until Oct. 1, 2017. The other major change delays the creation of four-member county boards of election from January until June 2017. Otherwise, the bill is much the same as the one that cleared the Senate.
The House Finance Committee is expected to hear the measure at 8:30 a.m., and there could be a House floor debate on the bill as early as 9:30 a.m.
APPOINTMENTS BILL: A bill placing constraints on gubernatorial appointments was the subject of a threat to sue by Cooper on Thursday, but that did not stop the state House from passing the measure. That bill will be heard in the Senate on Friday, although the exact timing of committee and floor votes is unclear.
Lawmakers said a recent tussle between the executive branch and the legislature over commission appointments, which was decided in McCrory's favor, laid the groundwork for the appointments bill. However, as the measure was being debated, the Charlotte Observer reported that two former governors who sided with McCrory in the commissions case also think the appointments bill is problematic.
McCrory has not publicly indicated where he stands on the measure.
SENATE COMMITTEES: The Senate Education Committee meets at 9:30 a.m. The Appropriations Committee meets at 11 a.m. Neither committee has posted an agenda, but it's likely at least one will hear a bill that allows state funds to pay for transportation improvements at charter schools, such as driveways and parking facilities used by school buses.
DEAD: A bill that would have allowed school districts to begin their traditional calendar school year two weeks earlier than the current law will not be heard on the House floor. Rules Chairman Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, said Thursday night the measure would not be moving forward. That bill attracted stiff resistance from lawmakers in areas dependent on tourism.
Lewis also said a regulatory reform bill, which slimmed down a hodgepodge of environmental regulations, also would not move forward because House and Senate sponsors could not agree on what should be in the package.
PROTESTORS: Thursday saw sometimes raucous protests from groups objecting to the two major bills of the session. Both the House and the Senate cleared their visitors' galleries, and there were 17 arrests as a result of civil disobedience in the House. Groups organizing the protests say they'll return to the General Assembly on Friday.
WHAT'S LEFT: Lawmakers in both chambers said they anticipated finishing their work for the week Friday. While the charter school, appointments and election bills are the only measures obviously on track to the governor's desk, last-minute amendments or other as-yet unannounced matters could arise before they leave town.