Newsletter from Sen. Bill Cook | Beaufort County Now | This past election brought changes to how government works in North Carolina. Of course, there are still the House and Senate chamber (legislative branch), the Governor's office (executive branch), and the Courts (judicial branch). What happened to each of those is noteworthy.

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    This past election brought changes to how government works in North Carolina. Of course, there are still the House and Senate chamber (legislative branch), the Governor's office (executive branch), and the Courts (judicial branch). What happened to each of those is noteworthy.

    Last session, Republican's held the majority in both the House and Senate chambers. While the House had the majority, they did not have a super-majority - meaning that there were not enough Republicans to override any vetoes that came from the Governor without the help of some Democrat colleagues. While we did work across the aisle and secure many of those needed votes, this session, the Republican majority is veto-proof.

    The Senate did have a veto-proof majority last session, and that majority expanded this past election.

    The executive branch looks quite different this time around, with Republican Governor Pat McCrory in the office. This is an exciting change and we legislators are looking forward to working with the Governor to help accelerate our progress toward economic excellence in North Carolina.

    The judicial branch remained conservative with the results of the past election. We don't work with them as much, since their jobs do not deal with the creation of new laws. It was an honor to be sworn in to my new Senate district by re-elected NC Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby just a couple of weeks ago.

    Session itself began last Wednesday, January 30. This promises to be a very busy time, but I am anticipating it bringing many good changes to North Carolina.

    I thought in this first newsletter to you I would try to clarify a source of some confusion: the North Carolina legislature's relationship with the federal government, and how exactly a bill becomes a law.

    The North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) is, of course, not the federal government. We only deal with laws that affect the people of North Carolina. If you hear about an issue that is being talked about in Washington the NCGA will most often be limited in our ability to involve ourselves in the issue. However, sometimes we can decline to participate in a federal program, or we can pass a resolution stating our position.

    The other place I occasionally see confusion arise is in our understanding of how a bill becomes a law. Some folks think it is or should be an overnight process. Our founders set up the system to intentionally take a long time, hoping that most of the bad laws would be weeded out in the process. At the risk of telling you what you already know, here is the law-making process:

    An idea for a bill originates in someone's mind - it could be your mind or my mind - and is drafted and presented to one of the chambers by a legislator (in my case, that would be the Senate). It is then assigned to at least one legislative committee where it is debated and possibly changed. If the committee likes the bill it is either sent back to the chamber or on to another committee (depending on the nature of the bill). At any point along the way legislators can offer changes to the bill, or decide that they don't like it. Sometimes a bill will be "tabled" by leadership and die. If the majority of a committee doesn't like the bill, it dies. If the bill is approved in committee, the bill returns to the chamber that originated it.

    If the chamber approves of the bill, it is sent to the other chamber (in my case, the House of Representatives) where the entire process is repeated. If the bill didn't die over there and the House likes the bill but has made changes to it, they send it back to the Senate to see if the Senate approves of the changes.

    If both chambers agree to the "final version" of the bill, it is sent to the Governor for his approval. He has 3 choices. If he likes the bill, he can sign it into law. If he doesn't like it well enough to attach his name to it, but he doesn't want to say "no" to the bill, he can let it go into law without his signature after 10 days. If he doesn't like the bill, he can veto it.

    If he vetoes a bill, it goes back to the chambers. Where, if there is enough support for the bill, it is voted into law over the Governor's veto. This happened with 11 out of 19 vetoes last session. In 2012, 2195 bills were introduced in the two chambers with 622 of them becoming law (just over 28%).

    This link gives additional information on how a bill becomes a law, and the following video is a great educational resource and makes learning about the tedious process interesting. The video is about how a federal bill becomes a law, but the process stays the same for a proposed bill in North Carolina (

    So far this session, I have co-sponsored 9 bills, including S4 "No N.C. Exchange No Medicaid Expansion", S27 "Public School Protection/Firearm Amendments", and S28 "Gun Permit Information/No Publication."

    My office contact information is shown below. If you like my newsletter, share it with your friends. If not, let me know and you will be removed from our distribution list.
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