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NCGA Special Session Day 1: Disaster relief, no big surprises (yet)

The first day of the North Carolina General Assembly’s special legislative session is in the books – and the biggest surprise may have been no big surprises.

Yet.

Crowds gathered to protest a rumored court packing scheme that was first floated among conservative policy groups and media back in November and has remained popular in some conservative circles up until this week. The N.C. GOP none-the-less blasted Democrats and the media for the rumors as Republican legislative leaders finally and unequivocally said Tuesday that it was a bad idea and they had no plans to carry it out. They had, up until this week, refused to rule it out and said they hadn’t heard any discussions about it.

The N.C. House unanimously passed its version of the disaster relief bill for which the special session was originally conceived. Some critics said the final version of the bill as not enough and pointed out that it does not have a schedule for disbursement of funds . The N.C. Justice Center’s Budget & Tax analysts pointed to a provision that requires the governor to borrow against next year’s budget to pay for the aid package. House Republicans said another aid bill would be coming in the spring’s long session.

There was some argument on the House floor over the number of school days lost to the disasters addressed in the bill would have to be made up. The final bill requires only two days be made up, the rest forgiven.

That bill now goes to the N.C. Senate, which has until noon Wednesday to file its own bills for the session. Those looking for surprises this session may find them there.

Just five other bills were filed in the House, which had a filing deadline of 5 p.m. Tuesday. Two were housekeeping items – passage of the rules and the method for adjourning the session.

N.C. Rep. Larry Hall (D-Durham), the outgoing minority leader – filed a bill to restore early voting and a bill to establish non-partisan redistricting, both unpopular ideas with the Republican super-majority in the legislature.

The N.C. Senate reconvenes at 8 a.m. Wednesday. The house reconvenes at 11 a.m., though House Speaker Tim Moore said there will be no votes there until 1 p.m.

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