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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- It's not every day North Carolina's legislature takes up a bill involving the fate of captive nocturnal marsupials, so lawmakers figured they might as well have some fun.

The Opossum Right-to-Work Act introduced Wednesday gives the state explicit authority to permit the organizer of a New Year's Eve Possum Drop to display a wild-caught animal. By tradition, the trapped opossum is suspended in a tinsel-covered box and gently lowered to the ground at midnight, then released.

A judge agreed in November with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that such a permit was improper under state law, so legislators are changing the law.

Co-sponsor Sen. Stan Bingham, a Davidson County Republican, said that after years of budget shortfalls and other serious issues, it's high time for a little levity.

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