Several high-profile bills left behind by lawmakers

The North Carolina General Assembly concluded its work Friday without taking action on high-profile items, including a trio of constitutional amendments.

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N.C. Legislative Building
Mark Binker
RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina General Assembly finished work on the state budget and a bill modifying the controversial House Bill 2 Friday, but lawmakers concluded their business for the year without passing a number of high-profile measures.

Legislators adjourned sine die Friday night. That means, barring a gubernatorial veto or specially called session, the General Assembly won't return to work until January 2017.

"There comes a time when you just have to say, 'We're done,'" Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said. "We're done."

Berger announced that his chamber would take no more bills even as the House was debating an education measure and appeared to be making at a run at passing more legislation. Senators were unwilling to go along as the clock advanced toward midnight.

"They knew we were going to be finished by now, and (those bills) are just not here," Berger, R-Rockingham, said.

Proponents of unfinished measures will have to start the legislative process over next year. Here are some of the high-profile pieces of legislation left unfinished.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS: The state Senate had proposed a bill that would have called for voters to approve a trio of constitutional amendments. One of those would have capped North Carolina's income tax rate at 5.5 percent, a measure that critics say would constrain future legislatures in case of a fiscal emergency.
REGULATORY REFORM: A number of bills fall under the general heading of "regulatory reform," a catch-all term for industry-friendly measures that pare back government oversight. Often, these measures deal with environmental regulations. One such measure, for example, would have curtailed the construction of wind farms in eastern North Carolina. Another measure would have limited where solar farms could be located.

"We saw lots of proposals to roll back environmental regulations over the session," said Dustin Chicurel-Bayard, a spokesman for the North Carolina chapter of the Sierra Club. "Luckily, those didn't move in the last days of session."

MATH STANDARDS: A bill that would have required high schools to offer two different math standards cleared the Senate earlier this year but was turned aside by the House.
IMMIGRATION: House Bill 100 was a measure that would have prevented law enforcement agencies from accepting identification cards issued by municipalities and nonprofit groups and would have punished cities and counties for violating state immigration law by taking away road and school funds. It never received a vote for final approval in the state House.
PROTECTING STUDENTS: House members were debating a bill that would require schools to conduct background checks on employees when the Senate called an end to the legislative session. The bill was somewhat controversial because it would have required acts of civil disobedience to be among the crimes that would show up on those reports.
LEAD TESTING: Senators never took up a bill that would have required schools and day cares to test for lead contamination in their water systems. The same bill carried a testing regimen that would have applied to the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte.
WAKE COUNTY: A federal appeals court rejected districts drawn for Wake County commissioner and school board districts Friday. Lawmakers tried to redraw those districts but said they ran out of time to complete the work.
I-77 TOLLS: Despite efforts from some Mecklenburg-area lawmakers, the legislature never completed work on a bill that would have rolled back special toll lanes on Interstate 77 north of Charlotte.


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