While it might sound like a dance move, “crossover” refers to an important date in the North Carolina General Assembly that folks interested in state government should be aware of.
This year, the crossover deadline in both the North Carolina House of Representatives and Senate is on Thursday, April 30th. This is the date by which a bill, on its way to becoming law, must go through all its committees and pass one chamber in order to remain eligible for consideration by the other chamber for the remainder of the year (the “long session”). The bills that do not pass one chamber or the other by April 30th are effectively dead for the session. After the crossover deadline occurs, bills that are approved in one of the chambers by the end of this session are still eligible to be taken up next year, during what’s called the “short session.”
If that’s not complicated enough, folks should know that the idea contained in a bill is not necessarily dead even if a bill fails to make the deadline. The crossover deadline only affects the specific bill number — the substance of the legislation, the idea itself, can be included in another bill that has already passed one chamber — or it could be added to an entirely different bill later in the session. In other words, there’s always more than one way to legislatively skin a cat.
Once crossover occurs, the General Assembly’s non-partisan staff publishes a list of bills that remain eligible for the remainder of the session. That list will be available on the legislative website at www.ncleg.net after the deadline passes.
The historical purpose behind the crossover date seems to be to help limit the length of the legislative session. In North Carolina, a specific date for the session’s adjournment is not set by the body. But since service in the General Assembly is meant to be a part-time, establishing a crossover deadline can be viewed as helpful in allowing members to return to their full-time professions and family responsibilities in a reasonable amount of time.