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  • Summary date: May 10 2016 - View Summary

    Enacts new GS 120-32.7 to establish the process for hiring outside counsel to serve the General Assembly.  Requires the Legislative Services Commission (Commission), no later than October 1 of each even-numbered year, to solicit sealed bids to serve as outside counsel to the General Assembly or any of its officers on matters related to anticipated litigation challenging enacted legislation. Requires sealed bids to be solicited by advertisement in multiple newspapers widely distributed in the state and through electronic means. Requires each advertisement to state the time and place for opening of the bids and reserve to the Commission the right to reject any or all bids and to take those actions authorized by subsection (g) of the statute. Requires that the period for soliciting bids is to be no less than 30 calendar days and bids cannot be opened until at least three bids have been received.  Establishes that all bids are to be opened in a public meeting of the Commission. Directs the Commission to award the contract to the lowest responsible, responsive bidder or bidders, taking into consideration quality and performance, as determined by a vote in open session of a majority of members of the Commission.  

    Provides that the procedures set forth in this statute are the sole methods for hiring or retaining outside counsel by the General Assembly or for any of its officers. Requires the Commission to ensure that all General Assembly outside counsel contracts that are currently open for bidding, as well as all bids received and all award decisions, are posted to the General Assembly's website.  Provides that nothing in the statute is to be construed to prevent the Commission from hiring or retaining outside counsel separate from counsel initially selected through the bidding process. Establishes that when a special need to hire or retain additional counsel arises, the Commission must use the same method set forth above to select the outside counsel who will be retained to handle a particular legal need, except that at least two bids have been received before bids are opened.

    Amends GS 120-31(a), concerning the organization of the Commission, to require that, of the four members of the Commission appointed by the President Pro Tempore and the four members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, at least two Senators and at least two Representatives must be members of the minority party.  Also amends GS 120-31(f) to establish that in any case where any provision of law or any rule of the Commission requires approval of any action by the Commission, approval of that action by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and by the Speaker of the House of Representatives constitutes approval of the Commission, except as provided in GS 120-32.7(e).  

    Makes conforming changes to GS 120-32.6.

    Applies to the hiring or retention of counsel beginning with the 2017 Regular Session of the General Assembly.

    Appropriates $20,000 from the General Fund to the General Assembly for the 2016-17 fiscal year to pay for the cost of technological upgrades necessary in order for the General Assembly to carry out its duties under GS 120-32.7(f) (posting  outside counsel bidding and award information to the General Assembly website).  Effective July 1, 2016.