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Lawmakers Try to Conclude Longest Session in N.C. History

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RALEIGH — Fights over a tax on newspapers and statebuilding rules tripped up the General Assembly on Wednesday asstate lawmakers tried to bring this year's marathon session to aclose.

Legislative leaders had hoped to end the session, but insteadwere set to return Thursday to debate bills and negotiate legallanguage.

House Speaker Jim Black said he hoped lawmakers could concludetheir business before the end of the morning.

The longest legislative session in the state's history began onJanuary 24. Lawmakers became entangled in a protracted debate overtaxes, then spent another three months trying to draw newlegislative and congressional districts.

The lengthy session prompted one House member, Rep. Sam Ellis,R-Wake, to pen his own version of "Twas the Night BeforeChristmas." On the House floor Tuesday night, Ellis read, "Forthe first time in history, the mistletoe's up, and the staff'sdrinking eggnog from poinsettia-print cups."

Senate Minority Leader Patrick Ballantine sarcasticallysuggested that lawmakers need to change the "First in Flight"motto on license plates to "First in Procrastination."