Budget? What budget?

Posted January 27, 2011 4:03 p.m. EST

Despite all the talk leading up to the new session about how closing the projected $3.7 billion deficit would be the top priority for lawmakers this year, plenty of non-fiscal issues are being addressed by the initial bills being filed.

The House Judiciary Committee already passed a bill that would exempt North Carolina residents from the requirement in the year-old national health care reform law that they purchase health coverage or face monetary penalties.

Other bills already in the hopper include calls in the House to keep Dorothea Dix Hospital, the state's oldest psychiatric facility, open and to limit forced annexation by cities. On the Senate side, bills took aim at banning Internet sweepstakes games and synthetic marijuana.

Top GOP legislators said they also plan on addressing in the first week the idea of requiring voters to show identification at the polls and raising or eliminating the cap on the number of charter schools statewide.