Tuesday's surprise snowfall meant empty chairs for Commerce Secretary John Skvarla's presentation to state senators. But while many senators couldn't make it to Jones Street, the seats in the back of the room were mostly full.
That's where the lobbyists sit.
"I notice that everyone who's able to bill by the hour is present," quipped Sen. Wesley Meredith, the Fayetteville Republican who led Tuesday's meeting.
About a dozen of the 29 Senate commerce committee members showed up to hear Skvarla, who pitched Gov. Pat McCrory's economic development proposals. "I'm glad to see the secretary can really pack a house here at the legislature," Sen. Rick Gunn joked.
While the snow hurt attendance, much of the General Assembly's morning business continued on schedule. The legislature had a packed schedule of committee meetings Tuesday after snow postponed action last week. Many committee leaders were reluctant to get further behind on work.
But legislators struggled to drive downtown as that morning work began - many were on the way from far-flung districts. Thanks to inaccurate weather predictions, hardly anyone planned ahead.
Plenty of otherwise punctual politicians found themselves arriving late. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest had to delay his presentation to an appropriations committee, citing slippery roads as he apologized for tardiness. Fortunately, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall was around to switch slots with Forest on the committee agenda.
Also getting a late start: A debate on the controversial bill to exempt public officials who object to performing same-sex weddings. Until Sen. Buck Newton arrived from Wilson, there was no one to explain the bill.
But it appears the hardy few can't run the legislature by themselves (unless, of course, they're Sen. Jeff Jackson of #JustOneLegislator fame).
By early afternoon, meeting cancellations were rolling in for Wednesday and Thursday, when more snow is expected. The Senate and House will hold skeleton sessions Tuesday but won't take any votes.
Some, however, see an opportunity when the legislature grinds to a halt. One lobbyist was overheard making plans as he walked past the legislative press room.
"I've got less competition, because a lot of lobbyists have left and legislators are still in their offices," he said.