Politics & Government

The surprise meetings, bill switches and last-minute power plays of NC lawmaking

Former House Speaker Jim Black
Former House Speaker Jim Black News & Observer file photo

Don't blink. And don't get tired. Switched bill language, late nights and surprise meetings are part of making laws in North Carolina.

This week, the legislature changed an elections law in a way critics warned would hurt African-American voters more than others. The law passed less than two days after it appeared in committee.

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Here's what some of the legislature's surprises and procedural maneuvers looked like in previous years.


A bill that started out being about motorcycle safety ended up as an abortion law.

When it came time to vote, some women opposed to the legislation wore motorcycle helmets as they watched lawmakers from the gallery.

Gov. Pat McCrory ended up signing a version of the bill into law.


House Republicans led by Speaker Thom Tillis called themselves into a session after midnight to override a governor's veto.

Thom Tillis File photo

The session was scheduled for 12:45 a.m. and was announced 90 minutes before it happened.

The bill vetoed by Gov. Bev Perdue was part of a long-running effort to stop the North Carolina Association of Educators from collecting dues from teachers' paychecks via payroll deduction.


After years of wrangling, the state Senate passed the state lottery.

A week after senators went home, told they were done working for the year, Senate leader Marc Basnight, a Manteo Democrat, called them back into session when two Republicans couldn't make it.

Lt. Gov. Perdue broke a 24-24 tie.


At a time when Democrats were in control, they pushed a bill on early voting Republicans didn't like as the session was ending.

Yes, we're back to early voting laws.

The law let the Democratic-controlled State Board of Elections decide on county early voting locations if local elections boards couldn't come to unanimous agreement.

Republicans complained that Democrats were bending election laws to their advantage and about 30 GOP lawmakers in the House chamber held up signs that said "Shame." Then-House Speaker Jim Black called the State Capitol Police to restore order.