The 2019 legislative session won’t end until 2020.
The N.C. House and Senate are adjourning Thursday, Oct. 31, and will return Nov. 13 to consider redistricting matters and possibly tie up a few loose ends, per a joint resolution. After that, they’ll return Jan. 14 to attend to the rest of the session’s unfinished business.
The November discussions will most likely involve approving new congressional districts. The three-judge panel in the redistricting case Harper v. Lewis recently filed an injunction, including a notice to the General Assembly that drawing the maps now would help avoid election disruption in 2020. It would also prevent the need for an expedited summary judgment or trial process.
The original version of Senate Joint Resolution 694 would have allowed redistricting work and nothing else. But House members wanted to expand the November session to allow lawmakers to work on pending conference committee bills and to fill possible vacancies.
The Senate amended the resolution, and both chambers passed it, 47-1 in the Senate and 60-28 in the House. House Democrats, led by Minority Leader Darren Jackson, D-Wake, said lawmakers should take up Medicaid expansion immediately. But they lacked the votes to block the resolution.
In January, the General Assembly will revisit bills vetoed by the governor earlier in the session, as well as bills dealing with appropriations. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the General Assembly’s budget in late June, and since then members have gotten the most important initiatives through by passing individual “mini-budgets.”
It’s not clear which conference reports will wait until January. They include the farm bill, which was stalled through much of the session by a controversial provision on smokable hemp. The Senate and House jointly agreed to ban smokable hemp in June, due to concerns over marijuana law enforcement, but only the Senate has passed the conference agreement.
Another part of the session will be dedicated to health care discussions. Earlier in the session, Republicans refused to include Medicaid expansion in the budget against the wishes of Cooper and Democrats. Republican leaders said they’d be willing to discuss changes in health insurance after the budget passed.
They’ll also fill vacancies appointed by the General Assembly and consider gubernatorial nominations and appointments.