Five Things to Know About North Carolina’s 2024 Legislative Session



North Carolina lawmakers have returned to Raleigh and this year’s legislative session is now underway. In this episode, we’ll look at some of what’s ahead at the legislature.

Number one: Unlike last year’s so-called “long” session that ran throughout much of 2023, this year’s “short” session could last just a few months.

There’s no set end to the legislative session, but lawmakers are motivated to complete their work this summer so they can turn their attention to the campaign trail, since all 170 seats in the legislature are up for election this fall.

Number two: A main task for the legislature during this year’s session will be making adjustments to the $30 billion state budget, and deciding what to do with a $1 billion revenue surplus.

Both Democratic Governor Roy Cooper and Republican legislative leaders seem to agree that there should be some amount of pay bump for teachers and state employees, although it’s unclear at this point if they’ll see eye to eye on what that amount will be and whether it will be as pay raises or one-time bonuses.

A budget area where there’s a clear disagreement between the governor and the Republican-controlled legislature is spending taxpayer dollars on private school tuition. Republican leaders want to continue giving money to private school vouchers, while Governor Cooper has criticized the program for siphoning public funds away from public schools.

Number three: This session could also see debates on such issues as funding for childcare centers, health care, and infrastructure needs, as well as on policies related to immigration, medical marijuana, guns, and other topics.

And the new session brings renewed protests at the legislature, like the one organized by the Poor People’s Campaign as North Carolinians called on lawmakers to enact policies to alleviate poverty in the state.

Number four: There’s also the issue of transparency this session. In last year’s budget, lawmakers slipped in a bad provision that allows legislators to hide important documents from the public, keeping people in the dark about what’s happening in the “People’s House.”

Good-government groups, including Common Cause NC, are calling on lawmakers to repeal that anti-transparency provision and respect the public’s right to know what legislators are doing behind closed doors.

Number five: Voting and elections could also come up this session. We at Common Cause NC will fight any attempt to undercut voting rights in our state.

As adjustments are made to the state’s budget, we’re urging lawmakers to listen to election administrators and provide resources needed to keep our elections secure and accessible for all voters. This includes fully funding essential staffing at the State Board of Elections, which provides a backbone for the county-administered election system.

We’re also calling on the legislature to restore the grace period for absentee ballots, which helped protect absentee voters against delays in mail delivery.

Last year, the legislature suddenly took away the well-established three-day grace period for absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day. This resulted in more than 750 North Carolina voters having their absentee ballots unfairly thrown out in this year’s primary election.

An even greater number of absentee voters could be disenfranchised by the loss of the grace period in the general election.

Lawmakers should do the right thing and restore the grace period for absentee ballots and refrain from making any additional changes to our voting laws in this major election year.


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