RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina lawmakers are heading home after late night and early morning sessions that saw a final push to pass bills backed by the Republican majority.
The state House adjourned shortly before noon Friday, following the Senate's 2 a.m. adjournment.
The last bills to win approval included a sweeping measure loosening environmental regulations, legislation allowing new restrictions on abortion providers and numerous changes to state elections laws that critics say are designed to help GOP lawmakers retain power.
Items left on the table included an effort to speed up fracking for natural gas and a bill that GOP Gov. Pat McCrory wanted to remake the state Department of Commerce as a public-private partnership focused on job creation.
Lawmakers are set to return to Raleigh in May 2014.
A rundown of some of the bills addressed in this session:
- Legislators give final OK to airport bill: City officials vowed to block the measure, which creates a 13-member commission to operate Charlotte Douglas International Airport but leaves the property in Charlotte’s ownership. The legislation is also poised to restore longtime Aviation Director Jerry Orr to his position, only a week after he was removed by the city.
- NC lawmakers allow new abortion regulations: Opponents say they're aimed at restricting the ability of women to decide.
- NC lawmakers approve GOP-backed election changes: The bill approved late Thursday by the GOP-dominated state legislature requires voters to present photo ID and shortens early voting by a week.
NC lawmakers approve drug testing for welfare
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Lawmakers want suspicious applicants for North Carolina's worker-training and welfare program to be drug-tested or fingerprinted.
The state Senate gave the bill final legislative approval Thursday. It now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature.
The measure would allow county social services departments that suspect a recipient is using drugs to require a test before receiving benefits through the Work First program. Applicants would have to pay for the test, but could be repaid if they test negative.
Welfare and food stamps applicants also would see expanded background criminal history checks as agencies search for people with outstanding felony warrants, or probation or parole violations. Counties could collect fingerprints to check applicants
Lawmakers in nearly 30 states have introduced such bills.
NC lawmakers approve sweeping regulations bill
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The North Carolina House has approved a Republican-backed regulatory reform package that relaxes rules for landfills and trucks hauling trash, makes it harder for local governments to enact environmental ordinances and fires the state Environmental Management Commission.
The bill passed Friday in the waning hours of the legislative session includes 68 pages of wide-ranging provisions. They include requiring all hotels to install carbon monoxide detectors in each room, following three poisoning deaths in the same Boone motel room.
Another provision would prevent cities and counties from requiring contractors to pay more than minimum wage or provide employees sick leave to get government business. Durham has had so-called living wage requirements for its contractors since 1998.
The bill now heads to the desk of GOP Gov. Pat McCrory.
NC lawmakers vote to postpone lake cleanup
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina lawmakers have voted to postpone the costly cleanup of pollutants from the lake that provides drinking water to roughly 300,000 people in the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area.
The Senate voted 27-14 early Friday in favor of a House-backed bill that would delay for three years aspects of the cleanup of Jordan Lake that haven't yet begun.
The Republican-led Legislature backed the bill knowing it may conflict with the state's 2007 agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up nitrogen and phosphorous spilling into the lake.
Opponents of the agreement, including some local governments and businesses upstream as far away as Greensboro and Burlington, contend that anti-pollution regulations would hurt economic growth and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.