Activity around the NC General Assembly is ramping up. It’s crossover season, and that means House members, senators, lobbyists and citizens are frantically trying to their bills of interest passed in chamber in which they were filed.
Having done so, a bill “crosses over” to the other chamber and is still alive for the remainder of the legislative session.
Both the NC House and NC Senate have what it called the “crossover deadline.” This is an arbitrary date that is set by leadership as a “line in the sand.”
For example, if a bill sponsored by a House member is passed by the House, it is sent to the Senate, or crosses over. The same also applies to bills that have been filed in the Senate. If a bill is not passed out of its respective chamber by the crossover deadline, it literally dies a legislative death.
Therefore, the fever pitch of activity around the legislative complex has risen over the past couple of weeks, and will continue to rise until April 27. That is the day that has been set as the crossover deadline.
This year's #NCGA crossover date will be Thursday, April 27.
— Barry Smith (@Barry_Smith) January 11, 2017
Phones in the offices of committee chairmen are ringing off the hook, and the waiting areas in their offices are getting crowded. Everybody wants their pet piece of legislation to be heard in a committee, passed and sent to the House or Senate floor, and then passed there and crossed over.
Depending on one’s perspective, it is fortunate that not all bills will make the cut. As of this writing, there are nearly 1,400 bills that have been filed between the House and the Senate. It is not likely that all of these bills of necessity should or will become law in North Carolina.
Some of them are duplicate or companion bills for a bill filed in the other chamber. For example, HB 551 and SB 595 are Victim’s Rights bills. In all likelihood, only one of them will pass. There are plenty of bills filed in one chamber with a companion bill in the other.
But, there are also myriad bills on almost every conceivable topic that are waiting to be heard. While interested parties are buttonholing the House or Senate committee chairman who has their bill in their committee, the clock is ticking. Soon only the bills that have made the crossover cut will be left standing with a chance to become law during this session or in next year’s short session – at least according to the letter of the rule
There are a few exceptions to the crossover deadline rule. They are:
- Redistricting bills for House, Senate, Congress or local entities
- Ratification of amendments to the Constitution of the United States
- Bills introduced on the report of the House Committees on Appropriations, Finance, or Rules
- Bills providing for action on gubernatorial nominations or appointments
- Adjournment resolution
If a bill involves the spending of money, for example, it is exempt from the crossover deadline.
The question might arise, “What if an issue comes up that there was no bill filed for before the deadline?” The legislators can take a bill that has crossed over and amend it to fit the needed new legislation. Or, often legislation shows up as language in the budget, or the bill at the end of the session that makes technical corrections.
In other words, there are stratagems that can revive seemingly dead bills. Nevertheless, most bills that don’t cross over will stay defunct this session, and their sponsors will do their best to help them avoid that fate.
With an Easter recess looming along with the crossover deadline in a couple of weeks, expect there to be lengthy sessions and committee meetings as everybody tries to get their bills in under the wire. The individual members may come and go over time, but no matter who the participants, crossover time is a busy, crazy time in Raleigh.