NC Senate considers wrapping things up - soon

08/12/2014 4:45 PM

08/13/2014 5:12 AM

Going on two weeks since it left town, the General Assembly remains in a state of suspended animation because legislators failed to sign off one of two competing House and Senate adjournment resolutions.

Talk around the statehouse on Tuesday was that the Senate might come in late this week or early next, approve the House version and then leave town without any further business until mid-November, when senators would take up Medicaid legislation.

The Senate prefers its own adjournment resolution, which would have allowed it to convene Thursday to override any vetoes and then convene again on Nov. 17 to take up Medicaid and coal ash regulation bills. The governor has since signed all the bills that were pending.

Key senators would like the House to send them a new resolution cleanly accomplishing that, but there are no signs that will happen. A spokeswoman for the House leadership said Tuesday that it wasn’t known what the rest of the week will bring.

The House resolution also sets a November date for work on Medicaid but crams several other bills onto the plate for Thursday, including coal ash, regulatory updates and insurance coverage for autism disorders.

Since the Senate adjourned on Aug. 1 and the House on Aug. 2, they have been holding legally required skeletal sessions every four days. That could theoretically go on the rest of the year but could pose legal complications.

State Rep. Susi Hamilton, a Wilmington Democrat, said she believes the House and Senate need to return to Raleigh as soon as possible, finish their business and adjourn.

“It’s unreasonable to keep us on a 48-hour window every week,” Hamilton said. “We are a part-time legislature. We have jobs. We have professional responsibilities, constituent responsibilities and personal responsibilities. To keep us in limbo, it’s unreasonable.”

The state Democratic Party jumped on the standoff on Tuesday with a statement from Chairman Randy Voller criticizing the legislature for failing to wrap up its short session around July 4, as initially predicted. The session began May 14.

“At a time when the people of North Carolina are worried about their water, quality jobs, and the rising cost of living, the leaders of the General Assembly cannot agree on a simple adjournment resolution much less how to govern a state,” Voller said. Staff writer Patrick Gannon contributed.

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