Local Politics

End-of-session flurry leaves lawmakers scrambling

Posted August 7, 2009 5:14 p.m. EDT
Updated August 7, 2009 7:15 p.m. EDT

— Lawmakers rushing to adjourn the 2009 legislative session worked quickly Friday to pass as many bills as possible, hoping that they didn't approve bad laws in the process.

Almost 2,800 bills were introduced during this session that started in January – 111 days ago. More than 500 have passed both the House and Senate, but hundreds of others remain in limbo and must pass one chamber to be eligible for consideration during the 2010 session, which starts next May.

Some lawmakers said they are frustrated by the last-minute push to clear the pending legislation off their desks.

"The longer you stay, the worse the bills get. If we wait another week, we'd have 10 more bad bills," said Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Montgomery. "You get (bills) on your desk five minutes before you vote on them. You don't have time to analyze the bill."

"You get so busy, like (Thursday) night, you know, you can get just about anything through. It goes so fast. That does happen at the end of session," said Sen. Bill Purcell, D-Scotland.

Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston, said the mad dash at the end of the session occurs every year.

"You have to really put trust in your colleagues to know they're not inflicting something on you that might be something you'd regret voting for," Hoyle said.

Some of the more notable bills that passed at least one chamber this week include regulating commercial dog breeders, easing congestion with public transit, slowing the home foreclosure process, preventing cyber-bullying and implementing a racial bias test in death penalty trials.

Gov. Beverly Perdue signed 31 bills into law Friday, including the $19 billion state budget that is more than a month overdue. Other new laws include the following:

  • Changing licensing and inspection procedures for adult care facilities
  • Regulating sleep labs
  • Establishing procedures to get confidential prescription information to medical examiners for autopsies
  • Providing nonprofit community health organizations immunity from malpractice claims
  • Banning license plate frames that obscure registration data
  • Requiring tow-truck companies that work with the Highway Patrol to charge reasonable fees
  • Allowing local governments to regulate golf carts
  • Setting a salary schedule for school administrators

Meanwhile, Tillman said he wants lawmakers to take up ethics reform next year.

"We put off ethics reform. That's still needed. That's a good example of something that didn't happen that should have happened," he said.