Adjournment, Round Two
The General Assembly returned to Raleigh in July for what was, in reality, Round Two of its 2011 Long Session. The primary tasks were to take up overrides on bills Governor Perdue had vetoed and to adopt redistricting plans for U.S. Congressional districts and for the state House and Senate.
Under override procedures, an override vote must first be taken in the house in which the bill originated. If that house votes to override, then the matter goes to the other house. The Senate, where there is a veto-proof Republican majority, met on July 13 and quickly passed six overrides on Senate bills. The Senate and House then spent two weeks in skeleton sessions and committee meetings, returning to full floor sessions on the 25th. They adjourned on the 28th, leaving the following outcomes on bills which have been covered in Raleigh Report:
Vetoes Overridden (so the bills have become law)
- S 33, Medical Liability Reforms
- S 781, Regulatory Reform Act of 2011
Veto Sustained by failed override vote
- H 351, Restore Confidence in Government (the optimistically named bill which would require a photo ID in order to vote) – This bill was kept alive however, when House Majority Leader Paul Stam first voted to sustain Gov. Perdue’s veto, then, as part of the prevailing side, moved to reconsider the vote. Because the motion to reconsider requires a simple majority, not the three-fifths majority to override a veto, the motion to reconsider passed. No subsequent votes were taken on this override.
Vetoes Overridden in Senate, no vote taken in the House
- S 709, Energy Jobs Act (the fracking bill)
- S 727, No Dues Check-off for School Employees
Other Bills which Have Become Law
Bills signed into law after the adjournment of Round One:
- H 22, 2011 Budget Technical Corrections
- H 36, Employers & Local Government Must Use E-Verify
- H 542, Tort Reform for Citizens and Businesses
- H 619, Forced Combinations
- H 650. Amend Various Gun Laws/Castle Doctrine
- H 709, Protect and Put NC Back to Work
- S 166, No Adult Left Behind
- S 194, Alternative Fuel Vehicle Incentives
- S 415, Eliminate Cost/Reduced Price School Breakfasts
- S 498, Modify Law re Corporal Punishment
Bills which became law without the Governor’s signature:
- H 342, High School Accreditation
- H 344, Tax Credits for Children with Disabilities
- H 744, Safe Students Act
To no one’s surprise, the Republican-controlled House and Senate passed redistricting bills which are almost certain to make it easier for Republicans to be elected to the General Assembly and to the US Congress. The Governor does not have to sign (or get to veto) redistricting bills.
The new congressional districts are illustrative. Many counties, including some that are not heavily populated, are split between two districts. Some counties find themselves in three districts, and parts of Durham County, not a very large one in terms of area, will be in four different districts. In two cases, two incumbent Democrats are put in the same district (though US Representatives don’t have to live in the district they represent). Several analysts estimate that the congressional delegation is likely to shift from a 7-6 Democratic majority to a 10-3 Republican majority.
African Americans and others argued that African Americans are being packed into a few districts (at both congressional and state levels) which would be likely to elect African Americans, but that their overall voting strength is being diluted by removing them from other districts where they might exert influence. The redistricting plans have to be approved under the federal Voting Rights Act and are certain to be challenged in court.
For more information, go to the General Assembly’s webpage for redistricting: http://www.ncleg.net/gis/randr07/redistricting.html . You’ll find links to the new maps (in the shaded box near the top of the page), the guide to redistricting prepared for legislators, lots and lots of statistics about the districts, and statements from legislative leaders of both parties and others.
The bill adjourning Round Two calls for the General Assembly to reconvene on September 12 for Round Three. Among the items which can be considered then are:
- Bills pertaining to redistricting and any legal action about redistricting.
- Veto overrides.
- Bills pertaining to amendments to the NC Constitution, which would include the one to define marriage and the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR).
- Bills pertaining to election laws.
- Adoption of conference committee reports for bills currently in conference committees.
- Local bills currently in the House Rules Committee. (Sharp-eyed members of the Raleigh Report network will say, “Huh? Local bills in House Rules?” On the next to the last day of Round Two, House leaders moved 39 local bills to House Rules, prompting concern that they might repeat the procedural trick by which they had earlier passed legislation preventing community college students from getting certain federal loan money. After the Governor vetoed a bill allowing any community college to opt out of the loan program, the issue was divided into multiple local bills, over which the Governor has no veto, each bill applying to few enough counties that it met the definition of being local. This one bears watching.)
- Bills related to a “Tribal Compact negotiated by the Governor.” (This one bears watching too. It’s an effort by the Cherokee to get gambling with live dealers at Harrah’s Casino on Cherokee land in western NC.)
- Adjournment to Round Four or next year’s Short Session, whichever comes first.