Despite threats of a weekend session, House and Senate lawmakers met their Thursday night deadline with a few hours to spare - and a few finished bills.
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By Laura Leslie
It's a late night at the end of a long week, so the comprehensive wrap-up will have to wait for daylight. But here's Thursday night's whirlwind wrap-up of a week that saw hundreds of bills moving on Jones St. Watch the clip at right.
While the mad scramble of the crossover deadline dominated the spotlight today, legislators actually finished up several bills that are headed for the governor's desk tomorrow.Three notables:
Senate Bill 8: the Charter School Bill: After months of work on an omnibus charter school reform package, House and Senate lawmakers agreed today to settle for a stripped-down version that simply removes the state's current 100-school cap, and allows for slightly greater enrollment growth at existing schools. Perdue has signaled she'll sign it.. Sponsor Sen. Richard Stevens, R-Wake, said "there just wasn't consensus" on other issues like governance, funding changes, transportation, and food services for low-income students. He says lawmakers may revisit them in 2012.
Senate Bill 33: The Medical Malpractice bill: After much wrangling and heated debate in both chambers, House and Senate lawmakers agreed to a measure that gives emergency room doctors a little less leeway than in previous versions. However, the cap for non-economic damages is back in: no more than $500,000, even for death, dismemberment, brain damage, etc., unless the plaintiff can prove intentional wrongdoing by providers. Trial lawyers are unhappy with the deal, but it's on its way to Perdue.
Senate Bill 727: The Anti-NCAE bill: The House gave final approval Thursday to a proposal to end the teachers' group's ability to collect dues through state payroll deduction. Republican leaders said today the bill is not retribution for NCAE's outspoken political opposition, but failed to provide any other explanation for why NCAE was being singled out. (SEANC, another politically active employees' group, will still be able to use payroll deduction to collect its dues.) The final vote was 63-51. Perdue's staff hinted it's likely to be vetoed.