Raleigh, N.C. — Lawmakers returned from their week-long Easter break on Wednesday and promptly shot down three notable bills amid a flurry of activity.
Proposals to penalize drivers for holding up traffic in the left lane of a highway, to require that cars be towed from the scene of a traffic stop if the driver doesn't have a valid license and to "restore and preserve campus free speech" across the University of North Carolina system all failed in committee votes.
Meanwhile, Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, stripped provisions that would allow craft brewers to sell more of their product without the help of a distributor from his bill and still couldn't get a committee vote on it.
More than 100 bills were heard in committees Wednesday as lawmakers frantically try to meet next week's crossover deadline, the date by which most legislation needs to clear either the House or the Senate to remain alive in the 2017-18 biennium.
Outside the Legislative Building, teachers rallied in support of House Bill 13, which has been stalled in the Senate. The measure would ease the class size limits called for in the 2016-17 state budget, which local school officials say could force them to cut art, music and other classes or suddenly produce dozens of new classrooms and pay for dozens of more teachers.
Also, Common Cause North Carolina and 10 state residents filed a lawsuit against legislative leaders, alleging that a special session in December was held illegally because citizens received little advance notice of the session and had no idea what bills would be considered. The General Assembly passed two laws in the one-day session that curtailed gubernatorial appointment powers, combined the State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission and shifted some authority from the State Board of Education to the elected superintendent of public instruction.