State News

Last days signal rush in state legislature

Posted July 17, 2008 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated July 17, 2008 5:24 p.m. EDT

@NCCapitol

— The marathon session of the North Carolina Legislature is turning into a sprint. It is a critical time when the fate of outstanding bills is decided.

Lawmakers hoping to leave town for the year Friday, have a lot of work to do to please Gov. Mike Easley and others before adjournment.

 House and Senate members moved in and out of floor sessions Thursday, seeking to move outstanding legislation.

"They're working on certain bills. We're working on certain bills," said State Sen. Andrew Brock (R-Davie Co.). "It's just a mad rush here to the end."

Lawmakers held impromptu committee meetings around desks or worked behind closed doors in attempts to reach compromises.

The Legislature sent at least a dozen bills to the governor's desk Thursday, including one designed to create a home mortgage foreclosure prevention program.

The House approved the Easley-backed bill, promising relief to North Carolina homeowners looking to re-work their loans. The program requires lenders to give homeowners 45 days notice before starting foreclosure proceedings. The banking commissioner will examine the loan's terms and try to work out a deal to save the home.

The House and Senate also signed off on a measure creating mandatory sentences for people who commit some sex crimes against children.

Both chambers voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to approve the bill named for Jessica Lunsford, a former North Carolina resident who was kidnapped, raped and buried alive by a convicted sex offender in Florida in 2005.  Under the proposal, judges would be required to give violators a minimum 25-year sentence for some child sex offenses, and offenders who are released would be monitored by satellite for life.

Easley will also consider a bill that keeps people committed for mental health treatment from getting handguns and one designed to ease restrictions on boat towing. He is expected to veto the latter.

The Senate approved the drought response legislation sought by the governor. He sought the right for governor's to restrict water usage during times of shortage. The Senate scaled back the original plan and moved it to the House Thursday.

Bills to exempt Internet sales from the ticket-scalping law and to prohibit more children from ridingin the back of pickup trucks were also being considered.

Other measures aren't likely to be heard, such as a moratorium on involuntary annexations. Prospects for the Senate to consider an anti-bullying measure are uncertain.