Position: NCCBI urges the
General Assembly to limit legislative sessions to a specified number
of legislative days for both the long session and the short session.
The "short session" should be limited to budget matters,
unless legislation is needed to address a justifiable emergency
extraordinarily, long session of 1998 shows the need to limit the
length of legislative sessions. The regular legislative
"short" session convened on May 11 (after a six week
"special session") and adjourned October 29. when
legislative sessions last this long and a state budget is not adopted
by July 1; public schools and state agencies experience extreme
difficulty in planning for the next fiscal year. It is imperative that
the Legislature begin to adopt the state budget on time. Lengthy
sessions also leave legislators little time to meet between sessions
for important study committees.
This particular session was
not unique: over the past years, the trend has been longer and longer
sessions. The "short" session of 1990 lasted from May 21 to
July 28-- nine weeks! The 1995-96 session lasted 155 days; it was 177
days in 1993-94, 155 days again in 1991-92, and 181 days in 1989-90.
There has also been a trend to call "special sessions" which
only add to the length of time legislators must be in Raleigh.
According to The Book of the
States published by the Council of State Governments, 37 states have
limits on session lengths; the other 13, including North Carolina,
have none. Most of the 37 have a maximum number of days the
Legislature can meet, a few have dates the Legislature must adjourn
by, and several limit the number of days legislators receive per them
All of our neighboring states
have limits. Virginia has a 30 day calendar maximum in odd numbered
years and a 60 calendar day maximum in even numbered years. Tennessee
limits pay and per diem allowances to 90 legislative days. South
Carolina's legislature must adjourn by the first Thursday in June.
Georgia is limited to 40 legislative days every year.
These lengthy legislative
sessions place a tremendous burden on people who wish to serve as
citizen legislators, particularly those who run businesses at home.
For many it is too great a burden on family, business, and career. In
the past several years, because of this burden, legislators with
promising futures have often announced that they would not run for
reelection. If some steps are not taken soon, we may have a state
legislature composed of only retirees, the independently wealthy, or
persons who need a legislator's salary on which to live.
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Four Year Terms For
And Retention In North Carolina
N.C. Budget Reform