Local News

The Clock is Ticking on Legislative Bills

Posted Updated

RALEIGH — It is do or die for several bills in theNorth Carolina State Legislature. If a bill is not passed by either the Senate or the House by Thursday, it is thrown out.

The Legislature will hold a number of 12-hour sessions as lawmakers try to prevent a repeat of last year, where the whole session dragged on almost to Halloween.

This year lawmakers are trying to follow the "crossover rule" more closely to prevent another extended session.

During the crossover week, most bills not passed by either the Senate or House by midnight Thursday die in committee.

There are hundreds of popular pieces of legislation at risk, including a new hog farm moratorium, a law requiring seat belts in school buses, a liquor by the drink bill and many others.

Rep. Bill Cullpepper, chairman of the House Rules Committee, says the crossover week is a necessary evil.

"We've got to put an end to the process somewhere along the line, and if you have a situation where bills could be introduced at the last minute, things can get really rushed down to the end," Cullpepper said.

Other legislators disagree with the crossover rule.

"You have many bills moving very fast, and sometimes good debate does not occur because people say, 'We've got to hurry to make the crossover, we'll let the Senate clean it up,'" says Rep. Carolyn Russell.

"We just need to put the crossover date back further, or need to make some changes," says Rep. Frank Mitchell.

One of the bills not affected by the crossover is the lottery bill, which is tied to the state budget.