North Carolina’s General Assembly has historically been considered a part-time, citizen legislature. Traditionally, lawmakers have met from six to eight months in odd-numbered years. That’s the long session. Then they’d come back in May of even-numbered years for the short session.
There were exceptions, of course. Special sessions have been called. And other sessions have gone longer.
This year, after meeting from late January to mid June, lawmakers have already come back to Raleigh three times. They came back in July for a redistricting session. In September, they came in and passed a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex domestic unions. And this week, they returned to Raleigh to correct problems with redistricting plans.
Now they’re planning on coming back the Sunday night after Thanksgiving. That week, they could consider a possible tribal gambling compact with the Cherokee Indians, in addition to a number of other bills. They’ve also scheduled sessions for mid February and late April, before coming back in mid-May for the short session.
Republican leaders have indicated that they want to come back periodically in case they need to deal with matters related to redistricting. While the governor could call them back into special session to deal with the issue, they’d prefer not to have to count on the governor for that.
Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, the Senate minority leader, noted the frequency of sessions. He remarked that the repeated sessions make life tough for people who have jobs back home.