Today is the first day of the North Carolina General Assembly's Short Session. The NCGA convenes for a regular session in January of every odd-numbered year and for a short session in May of each even-numbered year. The length of the session isn't determined by statute, so we could be in for a couple of weeks of legislative activity or much longer. Traditionally, the Short Session has been used to amend and adjust the budget and to deliberate any bills that were passed by a single house before the Crossover Deadline.
It is not possible to submit a new ‘regular’ bill that is not directly related to the budget during the Short Session. Typically, the governor will suggest amendments to the budget and these, too, will be considered by the General Assembly.
Although the rules of the NCGA do not permit new bills to be introduced, these rules can be waived by a sufficient vote by legislators. That means that we could be seeing more legislation this year than just budgetary amendments. In fact, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger announced that he and House Speaker Tim Moore had already reached an agreement on the total amount that the state will spend in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget (source and further information: NC Policy Watch). This means that there may be no public deliberation of the budget this year.
In summary, the Short Session is traditionally an opportunity to amend and scrutinize the budget, but in actuality, the budget may already be complete and there may be plenty of other new legislation coming our way. It is called a Short Session, but we don't know how long it will be. And as of right now, there is almost no information on the NCGA's legislative calendar.
We'll be doing our best to guesstimate what is coming up in tomorrow's post. Don't forget to keep checking in to find out what the NCGA is up to!