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11.02.2020 2020 NC Legislative Session Recap By: Richard A. "Rick" Zechini & Sarah M. Patterson

The Coronavirus pandemic was the focal point of legislative activity this year, as lawmakers prioritized measures designed to protect public health and reduce the economic impact of the virus. COVID-19 also had a significant impact on the legislative process, as public health restrictions at the legislative complex and individuals’ unease in congregating had a dramatic impact on legislative efficiency and productivity. Committee meetings were available virtually, and committee rooms and halls of the legislature were not packed with lobbyists, journalists, and members of the public.

Another theme of this year’s session was the struggle between legislative and executive powers. The Republican-controlled legislature largely disagreed with Democrat Governor Roy Cooper’s mask mandate and decisions to keep non-essential businesses closed. The legislature made multiple attempts to overturn those decisions, and all were met with vetoes which were ultimately sustained.

This session also saw the continuation of last year’s budgeting process, which involved several smaller budget bills rather than one omnibus budget bill. Legislative leaders adopted this approach to avoid a prolonged battle with the Governor over whether the state budget bill should include Medicaid expansion. 

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