Lawmakers plan boomerang sessions

Posted July 31, 2014 10:00 a.m. EDT
Updated July 31, 2014 10:11 a.m. EDT

NC Flag, Legislative Building, Raleigh

— State lawmakers may be ready to leave Raleigh, but they're not ready to go home for good. They're planning to return twice in 2014.

According to an adjournment resolution unveiled Thursday morning in the Senate Rules Committee, legislators would reconvene in two weeks, on Aug. 14. They would adjourn the next day. 

They would then come back again after the election, on Nov. 17, for a special session on Medicaid reform. 

The resolution would also allow lawmakers to take up any bills in August or November that are currently being negotiated between House and Senate conferees.

That clears a path for lawmakers to leave town this weekend even if contentious bills, such as coal ash regulation and regulatory reform, haven't yet been settled. 

It also gives Gov. Pat McCrory less time to decide whether to veto any of the bills headed his way. Under the state constitution, once lawmakers adjourn "sine die" – that is, permanently – the governor has 30 days to veto any bills on his desk. However, adjourning to a "date certain," such as Aug. 14, limits the governor's veto window to 10 days because the legislature is technically still in session. 

Rules Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, told the committee he'd prefer to know what the governor plans to do sooner, rather than later, "so we can have some summer." The Aug. 14-15 session will allow lawmakers to deal with any vetoes.

However, he added, "I hope we don't come back" in August.  

Apodaca also said the Senate is hoping to finish its work shortly after midnight Friday. They're required to approve the budget deal twice on two calendar days. The first vote is set for Thursday morning. 

The House has different rules that require the first vote on the budget deal to wait till Friday, two days after it was officially filed. They're hoping to finish work Saturday.