Apr 23, 2024 - News

What the N.C. General Assembly could vote on during its short session

Illustration of the North Carolina Legislative Building with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The N.C. General Assembly returns Wednesday for its short session, where it could take up several bills ahead of elections this fall.

The big picture: After a busy legislative session in 2023 — which included big decisions on expanding Medicaid, abortion restrictions, changes to education laws and other key issues — Republican leaders say they are aiming to wrap up the short session quickly.

  • The GOP still holds a veto-proof majority after Charlotte Rep. Tricia Cotham changed her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican last year.

Here are some issues that could get brought up during the short session.

Expanding school vouchers: House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Majority Leader Paul Newton both have said the legislature could look to add more money for Opportunity Scholarships — a program that lets parents use public money to subsidize private school education, the Associated Press noted.

  • After lifting income caps, scholarship applications skyrocketed and demand outpaced supply.

Complying with ICE: After sheriffs were elected in some of the state's most populous counties promising not to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a new bill under consideration would force all sheriffs to comply with the agency, per the News & Observer.

  • The bill requires them to notify ICE if they can't determine the legal status of a person charged with certain offenses and honor requests by the agency to hold people for up to 48 hours, if it is believed they are in the country illegally.

Gambling machines: The state legislature backed off of approving four new casinos in the state last year, but the topic of video gambling machines could be taken up, according to the AP.

Relief for bars: Legislators could look to roll back some food safety regulations that bar owners said would cost them thousands of extra dollars to comply with, WRAL reported.

Raises and tax cuts: Moore also said that the General Assembly could find money for additional raises for teachers and state employees while also lowering the state income tax again, according to WUNC.

Banning gas-station heroin: Several lawmakers have been pushing to ban the sale of the antidepressant tianeptine, which some refer to as "gas station heroin" due to its potentially addictive nature and availability in convenience stores, WRAL noted.

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