The adjournment impasse at the North Carolina General Assembly remained in place after the Senate met briefly Tuesday in keeping with the state constitution.
Five senators and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest held a floor session for a few minutes without any recorded votes or legislation. They didn’t consider a proposed adjournment resolution the House sent over last weekend that lays out a schedule for returning to Raleigh both on Aug. 14 and Nov. 17.
The Senate dislikes that schedule and wants the breadth of considered legislation narrowed. The House holds its own skeleton session Wednesday.
The two chambers could hold similar no-vote sessions every few days or so for the foreseeable future, unless the House and Senate agree to the same adjournment resolution. The constitution otherwise requires them to hold sessions at least every fourth day, although there’s no consequence listed if they don’t.
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The General Assembly wrapped up most of this year’s business – including passage a bill adjusting the state government budget – last Friday and Saturday. But legislative leaders didn’t finish all the work they wanted from the 11-week session, including plans to overhaul Medicaid to clean up Duke Energy’s coal ash dumps. The two chambers couldn’t reach agreement on either.
Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, one of the senators in attendance Tuesday, predicted coal ash legislation could be discussed next week, with Medicaid in November. House Republicans want to cover more ground next week and consider more pending legislation. Other senators would prefer to stay away from Raleigh altogether until after the legislative elections.
In the meantime, Hunt said he expect many senators will refuse the $104 per day for expenses lawmakers usually receive as the session continues.
Speaking to reporters later Tuesday, Gov. Pat McCrory said he’d like legislators to return before November to resolve some economic development and technical matters. He also could force both chambers back if he vetoes any of the 17 bills left on his desk last weekend.
McCrory said an executive order he signed last week designed to fix coal ash pit problems and test drinking wells for ash contamination will help move the cleanup effort forward.
“We can proceed between now and November and we'll make the same progress between now and November with or without a bill,” McCrory said at a news conference.