State Politics

Legislature adds extra sessions in August, September as it adjourns regular session

Senate leader Phil Berger (left) visits House Speaker Tim Moore during a session of the North Carolina House on March 23, 2017.
Senate leader Phil Berger (left) visits House Speaker Tim Moore during a session of the North Carolina House on March 23, 2017. N.C. Insider

When the legislature adjourns its “long session” in odd-numbered years, lawmakers typically stay home until the “short session” begins the following spring.

Not this year. The adjournment resolution released Thursday evening adds two more legislative sessions this year: One starting on Aug. 3, and another starting on Sept. 6. The regular session ended around 2 a.m. Friday morning, wrapping up six months of lawmaking. A press release from the Senate said it was the “second quickest” long session adjournment since 1973.

In the August session, the legislature could address a variety of topics, including overriding any vetoes from Gov. Roy Cooper, making appointments, approving bills that are currently in negotiations between the House and Senate or bills involving impeachment of an elected official, and responding to lawsuits – including any court order on redistricting.

House Rules Chairman David Lewis said legislation where the House and Senate disagree can be handled in the next month or so, rather than pushing for an agreement before the current session ends. “We can do better then than at 3 o’clock in the morning like we usually do,” he said.

Lewis says the September session will likely focus on redistricting, and the legislature could consider redistricting plans for judicial and prosecutorial districts. A plan to redraw judicial districts that was released this week has been shelved amid strong opposition from judges and others.

The September session could also involve appointments, veto overrides, referendums on constitutional amendments and impeachment matters. House Republicans say they are holding off for now on a controversial resolution that seeks to begin impeachment proceedings against Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. A Republican lawmaker accuses Marshall of improperly allowing noncitizens to serve as notaries.

The impeachment provision in the adjournment resolution prompted Democrats to vote against it.

The adjournment resolution also includes a deadline for court-ordered redrawing of legislative districts to be completed: Nov. 15. Lewis says the process could happen much earlier depending on the deadlines imposed by judges, and a redistricting committee to start the process will be appointed Thursday night.