LEGISLATIVE TRANSPARENCY ACT.

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 678 (Public) Filed Thursday, April 22, 2021
AN ACT TO ENACT THE LEGISLATIVE TRANSPARENCY ACT AND TO APPROPRIATE FUNDS.
Intro. by Ager.

Status: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House (House action) (Apr 27 2021)

Bill History:

H 678

Bill Summaries:

  • Summary date: Apr 26 2021 - More information

    Enacts new Article 37, General Assembly Transparency Act, to GS Chapter 120. States legislative findings and sets forth defined terms. Mandates that all sessions of the Senate and the House of Representatives must be broadcast live by streaming video over the Internet and be recorded, archived and available for replay by the public, unless specifically exempt by GS 143-318.18. Further mandates that all official committee meetings must be broadcast, recorded, and archived in the same manner as session. Prohibits a bill from receiving a second or third reading in either chamber unless the bill appeared on the published calendar emailed to NCGA members and was posted to the NCGA website at least 24 hours in advance; allows for waiver by a two-thirds vote. Prohibits a bill from being considered in committee unless the bill appeared on the committee's agenda electronically published by the committee's clerk within at least 48 hours of the scheduled meeting; allows for waiver by a two-thirds vote by a show of hands. Bars taking up a proposed committee substitute (PCS) in any committee unless the PCS was distributed to all committee members and made available to the public at least 24 hours in advance of the scheduled meeting; allows for waiver by two-thirds vote by a show of hands. 

    Establishes time limitations on session, prohibiting meeting before 7:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., excluding first reading of bills; allows for waiver by a two-thirds vote. 

    Requires electronic voting or roll call for floor amendments; allows for waiver by two-thirds. Bars motioning to adjourn if there are pending amendments before the chamber, unless waived by two-thirds, whereby the amendments must be taken up first the following legislative day with the bill unable to have a second or third reading until the amendments have been voted on or withdrawn.

    Establishes membership criteria for each chamber's Committee on Rules, requiring one member who resides in each of the state's congressional districts and the Majority and Minority Leaders. Provides for committee meetings and leadership; bars the Majority and Minority Leaders from chairing the Committee on Rules. 

    Makes the new Article applicable to NCGA regular sessions and extra sessions legislatively or gubernatorially called under the Constitution.

    Makes the following changes to GS Chapter 120.

    Amends GS 120-32 to no longer provide for the Legislative Services Commission (LSC) to determine the conditions of employment of the NCGA joint legislative service employees. Revises the departments for which the LSC must determine the number, titles, classification, functions, and compensation of the joint legislative service employee to include the following divisions, offices, and functions (now an exhaustive list): Legislative Services Office and Administrative Services (was and personnel), Information Services Division (was electronic document writing system), Enrolling Clerk (was and personnel), Legislative Analysis Division and Legislative Library (was library only), Legislative Drafting Division (was research and bill drafting), Program Evaluation Division (was program evaluation), and Fiscal Research Division (previously not included); no longer includes proofreaders, legislative printing, printed bills, and disbursing and supply. Now provides for members to prescribe the hiring of employees that serve in their offices as well as their duties, rather than being prescribed by rules and administrative regulations of the respective house. Regarding the LSC's duty to provide for the indexing and printing of session laws, includes reconvened sessions rather than special sessions. No longer includes the duty to establish a bill drafting division. Makes technical and clarifying changes. 

    Amends GS 120-36.1 to no longer exempt the Fiscal Research Division from the Executive Budget Act or the NC Human Resources Act. 

    Enacts GS 120-36.7A to establish the Legislative Analysis Division within the LSC with six enumerated purposes, including staffing committees, preparing floor amendments, operating a legislative library, and responding to member information requests.

    Adds to GS 120-36.16, concerning the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee, establishing that proposed legislation recommended by two-thirds of the Committee by roll call vote is eligible for introduction in the House and for consideration in both chambers, notwithstanding chamber rules.

    Directs the LSC to reestablish and fully staff the Program Evaluation Division at the same level and to the same extent as it was staffed as of January 1, 2021, no later than July 1, 2021. Directs the Speaker and President Pro Tempore to appoint members to the Joint Program Evaluation Oversight Committee and designate co-chairs by July 1, 2021. 

    Enacts GS 120-36.20 to establish the Legislative Drafting Division within the LSC, with six enumerated purposes, including drafting bills at member request; staffing committees; assisting with developing the budget and other appropriations bills; and proofreading and formatting bill drafts and PCSs and engrossing floor amendments. Makes conforming changes to the title of Article 7D.

    Amends GS 120-36.21 to charge the Legislative Services Officer with assigning staff of the Legislative Drafting Division with the specified duties regarding codification of statutes, rather than NCGA staff. Similarly amends GS 120-36.22 to require a staff member of the Legislative Drafting Division to be the Revisor of Statutes rather than a NCGA staff member. 

    Amends GS 126-5 to more specifically exempt from the Human Resources Act NCGA officers and employees of the respective NCGA houses as referenced in GS 120-32(2), except for Articles 6 and 7 of GS Chapter 126, which provide for equal employment and opportunity and the confidentiality of personnel records. 

    Repeals GS 143-318.18(4b), which exempts NCGA conference committees from the provisions of Article 33C, which govern meetings of public bodies. 

    Appropriates $3,795,022 from the General Fund to the NCGA for 2021-22 to be allocated in specified amounts for (1) 19 full-time equivalent positions in the Program Evaluation Division reestablished pursuant to the act (recurring funds); (2) ongoing audio and video streaming of all sessions and committee meetings (recurring funds); and (3) the purchase of audio and video equipment (nonrecurring funds). 

    Appropriates $2,505,022 in recurring funds from the General Fund to the NCGA for the 2022-23 fiscal year for (1) 19 full-time equivalent positions in the Program Evaluation Division reestablished pursuant to the act and (2) ongoing audio and video streaming of all sessions and committee meetings.

    Effective July 1, 2021. 


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