NC General Assembly Week in Review: Special Edition on Session Adjournment

August 1, 2011

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General Assembly Adjourns After Historical Special Session

The General Assembly wrapped up its second session this year after drawing new legislative and congressional district maps for the next decade and overriding five of Gov. Beverly Perdue’s vetoes. The nearly two week “special session” involved long days of contentious debate among lawmakers as they tackled redistricting and veto override votes on several controversial bills.

Lawmakers are due to return on September 12th, where they will focus on constitutional amendments. Top leaders have said they’ll spend four or fewer full legislative days in session; however vagueness of legislative scheduling leaves open the possibility the session could run long or adjourn until later in the year.

Redistricting Maps Head to Washington for Preclearance

Legislators gave final approval to new district maps for the House, Senate and North Carolina’s 13 congressional seats last week following several long days of heated debate. Before approving, a few final tweaks to the House and congressional districts were made in committee. The final votes now set the stage for the new districts to be sent to Washington for federal preclearance.

The congressional maps could give Republicans an advantage in 10 of 13 districts. Currently, seven districts are represented by Democrats. Legislative maps would draw 20 pairs of lawmakers into the same district, forcing them to run against each other if they seek to remain in the legislature in 2013. Twenty-one are Republicans and 19 are Democrats.

Review the approved district maps.

Review charts comparing the voter registration demographics of existing districts with those in the newly approved maps.


Lawmakers Exercise the Veto Override

During the two-week session, lawmakers successfully overrode the Governor’s vetoes on five bills, whereby they will now be implemented into law.

  • Medical Liability Reform (SB33)
    Expands legal protection for healthcare providers treating an emergency condition and bifurcates the liability and damage phases of a medical malpractice lawsuit where the damage exceeds $150,000. The legislation caps noneconomic damages (excluding loss of future earnings) at $500,000. The exception the $500,000 cap is when an act of gross negligence, fraud, intentional failure, malice, or reckless disregard for the rights of others results in someone’s death, disfigurement, permanent injury, or loss of a body party. These malpractice reform measures apply to nursing homes, hospitals, physicians, and others defined as “health care providers” under statute.
  • Regulatory Reform Act of 2011 (SB781)
    Makes numerous changes to the Administrative Procedure Act relating to the rulemaking process, the contested case process, and judicial review of agency decisions. Highlights include: Places limitations on state agencies rulemaking, including requirements for cost analysis and providing for review by the Office of Administrative Hearings; Prohibits the state from enacting any environmental regulations more stringent than federal regulations; Requires the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources to have a fiscal note and an economic impact study, and to consider at least two alternative rules.
  • ESC/Jobs Reform (SB532)
    Reforms the employment security laws of North Carolina by creating the Division of Employment Security within the Department of Commerce. Transfers the functions of the Employment Security Commission of that division, making the division subject to rule making under current law and makes other modifications and conforming changes to align the employment security functions of state government under the direct leadership of the Secretary of Commerce.
  • Medicaid and Health Choice Providers Requirements (SB496)
    Aims to deter Medicaid fraud by changing the requirements of Medicaid and health choice providers.
  • Woman’s Right to Know Act (HB854)
    Requires women to receive counseling and wait 24 hours before having an abortion.