RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Bills protecting organizational rights of student groups and student-led prayer are advancing in the North Carolina Senate.

The Senate Education Committee signed off on two bills Wednesday intended to protect free expression in schools and colleges.

One measure gives student organizations at the state's public colleges and universities the right to select leaders and govern themselves without interference from administrators.

Another bill clarifies students' rights to religious expression within the bounds of rules preventing disruptions of the educational process in public schools.

Some Democratic committee members questioned the need for both laws. Religious groups said they provide needed clarifications and protections.

Both bills passed with little to no opposition and will now head to the full Senate.

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