Legislators are returning to work on Thursday facing a court order demanding they draw new legislative districts and a plate full of Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes to consider overriding.
But the session this week may be limited to voting on bills left in limbo when the legislature adjourned in June, said Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican and House Rules chairman.
Legislators are still thinking about how to respond to the federal court’s Sept. 1 deadline for correcting what it ruled to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders by redrawing legislative districts. A spokeswoman for Senate leader Phil Berger said the lawyers for legislative leaders are reviewing the court ruling.
Lewis said Tuesday afternoon that he did not expect legislators to talk about redistricting Thursday.
Action on four Cooper vetoes will wait, too. So many legislators are going to miss the Thursday session, there may not be enough votes to override the vetoes, Lewis said. The House will put those on hold and consider them later, he said. The legislature has another session planned for September.
What’s left for Thursday are bills that House members and senators were negotiating as the session ended in June.
Among those bills is a catch-all environmental measure that includes the controversial repeal of the ban on plastic shopping bags on the Outer Banks.
The 2009 law banning plastic bags was a personal mission of former Senate leader Marc Basnight, a Dare County Democrat, who wanted to limit trash on beaches and in waterways. Opponents argue the ban is ineffective and costs businesses too much. The N.C. Retail Merchants Association said the paper bags businesses offer as an alternative cost eight times more than plastic bags.
Other bills eligible for consideration are a House bill that would make it easier for unaffiliated candidates to run for office, and a Senate bill that reinstates a franchise tax deduction that was eliminated in 2015.