By the time it was over, the only bill that made it to Gov. Roy Cooper's pen from this week's super-brief legislative session was one benefiting children of wartime veterans with scholarship opportunities. "These scholarships are earned through the service and sacrifice of these students and their families," said Gov. Roy Cooper upon signing the bill, SB 560. "Increasing the amount of these scholarships is the right thing to do." The bill appropriated a recurring $2.4 million to that end. Other focuses from the day -- Medicaid expansion, teacher pay and regulatory reform – didn’t lead to any changes, but did make headlines. Two vetoed bills -- one on teacher pay, the other regulatory reform -- hit the Senate floor for override votes and both failed, sustaining the governor's vetoes. While observers wondered whether the also-vetoed state budget would come back up, it didn't, which might strike an unusual chord for the General Assembly's short session in late April.
Short sessions in part function to amend or update the biennial state budget approved in the previous year, but the state doesn't have an approved budget this time around per hard disagreements between the governor and legislative leaders, who instead approved a series of individual spending plans for government agencies and topics. The Insider State Government News Service quoted Senate leader Phil Berger saying at a news conference that he didn't expect a complete budget to come together in the short session. House Speaker Tim Moore said the same: "You may have more of what we've had with the mini-budgets, where you try to find the areas where it would be very difficult for the governor to draw a controversy," he said. A spokesman for the governor countered that legislative leaders are avoiding negotiation. Complete information about bills taken up during the Tuesday session is online at https://www.ncleg.gov/Legislation.
The League offices will be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and will reopen Tuesday on normal hours.