October 31, 2014

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Why A "Special Session" of North Carolina's General Assembly?

Last year's budget included a $40 million appropriation for nursing homes, adult care facilities and group homes -- although the way the provision was worded disqualifies group homes from the funding. Hence, a funding crisis for residents of group homes on January 1, 2013. Laura Leslie and Mark Binker at WRAL are on top of the story here: http://www.wral.com/tillis-call-special-session-on-group-homes/11829559/.

In order to correct the wording so group homes are eligible to receive funds, the General Assembly must either pass a bill with new language clarifying group homes' access to the funding or make a new appropriation -- and the clock is ticking. This can only be done while the General Assembly is in session.

The next scheduled convening of the General Assembly is January 9, 2013 for an organizational session. They will then adjourn to reconvene on January 30th to begin the business for the year.

The NC Constitution provides that the Governor may convene extra sessions of the legislature by "proclamation, stating therein the purpose or purposes for which they are thus convened." But the Constitution does not in any way limit the matters that may be considered during a special session. This lack of limitation has always given our Chief Executives pause.

The General Assembly also has the constitutional power to call itself into session although the process is more cumbersome, requiring the House and Senate to agree on the necessity of the session and then secure the supporting signatures of three-fifths of the members of each chamber on a joint proclamation.

So if the General Assembly convenes for a Special Session -- a lame duck session -- will funding for group homes be the only issue considered? And if they don't convene, what happens to the residents of the group homes?

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About this Author

Laura DeVivo, Womble Carlyle Law Firm, public policy
Government Relations Specialist

Laura DeVivo has more than 12 years of experience working closely in North Carolina’s Legislative and Executive branches. Now, she brings her public policy experience, political knowledge and top-level contacts to private practice at Womble Carlyle.

* Laura DeVivo is not licensed to practice law. Her work is supervised by a licensed attorney in the firm’s Raleigh, NC office.

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