General Assembly wraps year after all-nighter

NC General Assembly lawmakers showed fatigue ahead of 4 a.m. adjournment. (Photo credit Kenneth Roundtree, WNCN)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The General Assembly has officially completed this year’s work session after more than eight months on the job.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, the Senate’s presiding officer, gaveled down the session shortly after 4 a.m. Wednesday once legislators finalized a large “technical corrections” bill. The session began in mid-January.

Hope that Republicans would adjourn the legislature by its traditional early summer closing date got waylaid by a budget stalemate and extended negotiations on overhauling Medicaid and economic recruitment incentives. The state budget passed just two weeks ago. A proposed $2 billion bond issue got final approval just after midnight.

Barring a veto by Gov. Pat McCrory that would cause lawmakers to return this fall, the North Carolina legislature isn’t supposed to reconvene until next April 25.

Legislature approves sex ed curriculum bill

A bill focused previously on licensing counselors on North Carolina middle-school sex education was expanded very late in this year’s General Assembly session to enforce a ban on several types of local government ordinances.

The House debated Tuesday a negotiated compromise agreement that could void many city- or county-approved rules placing specific requirements on businesses on employee pay, housing and landlord-tenant relationships.

“These are really crucial protections that exist at the local level that would be stripped,” said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, which advocates on behalf of the LGBT community. “This is really a kick in the teeth to municipal authority, to the will of the people in the state and to the democratic process here in Raleigh.”

Negotiator Rep. Paul Stam of Apex told colleagues the bill reinforces a state constitutional provision against local acts affecting trade and labor. The bill needed both House and Senate approval before it goes to Gov. Pat McCrory.

“We would not want a patchwork of rules and regulations across the state for how businesses are supposed to operate,” said Sen. Chad Barefoot (R- Franklin/Wake). “It tells the local governments that they should not be enacting rules and regulations that go farther than what the state has in terms of commerce.”

Advocacy groups opposing the compromise say it would eliminate or prevent ordinances requiring higher minimum wages than the state allows, minimum housing standards and some gay and lesbian protections.

The bill was sent to the Rules Committee Tuesday evening, which voted 14-7 not to send it back to the full House for a vote.

WNCN contributed to this article.

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