(Winston-Salem Journal) The N.C. General Assembly cut short its Thanksgiving weekend Sunday to gear up for what Republican leaders say may be the last chance to pass substantive legislation for the next six months.
The state House and the Senate held rare weekend evening floor sessions to begin up to three days of work in which they’ll consider repealing a new death-penalty appeal procedure. They also could take up a bill to cap the gasoline tax. Debating changes to gambling laws so the Cherokee Indians could offer live dealer games at its casino depended on the completion of an amended compact between the tribe and Gov. Bev Perdue that has been negotiated for months.
Intense debate was expected today at a Senate judiciary committee meeting to consider a bill that would do away with the 2009 Racial Justice Act, which was hailed by supporters as a way to evaluate whether racial discrimination played a role in putting murder defendants on death row. A judge who finds racial bias would commute a death sentence to life in prison without parole.
House Republicans will also talk about whether to push a measure to change the state gasoline tax. It could raise it by almost 4 cents per gallon come Jan. 1 to nearly 39 cents per gallon, according to the legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal staff. Some legislators are sure to balk at capping the tax at the current rate of 35 cents: It would mean lost road-building revenues.
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