Raleigh, N.C. — The airing of grievances during the House's celebration of Festivus, aka the budget debate, took about five hours Thursday.
Democrats complained for nearly two hours on Republican legislative leaders' decision to bar amendments to the $23.9 billion spending plan. That was followed by another three hours of criticism that the budget doesn't do enough for teachers, state retirees, people who lack health insurance and residents whose drinking water is contaminated.
Republicans reacted angrily to some of the accusations, but in the end, the budget easily gained initial approval from the chamber, and a final vote is expected Friday.
The Senate also gave final approval Thursday to the budget, so it could be on Gov. Roy Cooper's desk by the end of Friday.
Senators were equally rancorous during debate over legislation that would allow four Charlotte suburbs to create their own charter schools. Some opponents see the proposal as an effort to resegregate schools.
The House Finance Committee approved changes to unemployment insurance rules, including cutting the number of weekly contacts people have to make to maintain their benefits from five to three.
Female Democratic lawmakers held a news conference to call for changing the rules to report sexual harassment and push for North Carolina to become the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.