The House passed roughly 70 bills during 10 hours of floor debate Wednesday and early Thursday as crossover loomed, finally adjourning at 2:26 a.m. with no plans to take more votes until Tuesday.
Three minutes earlier, House Speaker Tim Moore, announced that the chamber had heard all bills it planned to consider before Thursday's crossover deadline.
The Senate, meanwhile, has scheduled debate at 9:30 a.m. Thursday on 11 mostly noncontroversial bills.
It was the second straight day that the House debated well into the night to get as much legislation to the Senate as possible before Thursday’s deadline.
Wednesday’s House session began at 2 p.m. It featured rare floor debates from the speaker and a not-so-rare disruption from Moral Monday protesters, who sang and chanted outside the chamber, making it difficult for members to hear the debate. Arrests ensued. Some of the more controversial bills heard Monday centered on the death penalty, education policy and an environmental review process for taxpayer-funded projects know as the State Environmental Policy Act, or SEPA.
The House also passed and sent to the Senate bills to require moped riders to get liability insurance and to give members of the local governmental employees’ retirement system 1 percent cost-of-living increases.
Chamber leaders still were adding bills to the calendar at 11:58 p.m. Wednesday. It adjourned for the day at midnight, then came back at 12:30 a.m. and continued debate on about two dozen remaining bills.
Moore urged members not to object to third readings Thursday, as that would effectively kill bills because they couldn't be passed before the crossover deadline.
“I would ask as your speaker that we continue that tradition,” Moore said. “I think it’s only fair.”
The House also tentatively passed a controversial regulatory reform bill without debate or amendments, which are expected on the final reading next week.
After a long debate about whether to eliminate the $250 fine for speeding in work zones that are inactive and clear of workers, the House chose to study the issue instead.
And the House passed a bill banning everyday people from possessing “dangerous wild animals,” such as tigers, bears, wolves and hyenas.
In a House Rules Committee meeting just before the House resumed its business after a dinner break, legislators turned down in a voice vote a bill to allow motorcycle riders 21 and older to decide whether they want to wear helmets. Lobbyists voiced concerns from doctors, insurance companies and AAA Carolinas. In a rare moment of levity in what otherwise was a pretty serious night of debate, Rep. James Boles, a Moore County Republican and a funeral home owner, said: “We’re finally on a jobs bill for my profession.”
The Rules panel also added a financial component to a controversial gun bill, which means it isn’t subject to crossover and the House was spared – at least for now – what would have been another lengthy debate.
But as the House adjourned early Thursday, Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Wake County Republican, announced that the House Appropriations Committee would meet Tuesday morning to consider the gun bill, House Bill 562.
Patrick Gannon writes for the NCInsider.com, a government news service owned by The News & Observer. www.ncinsider.com