Preparation of Copies for Introduction: The drafter provides the legislator with one or more copies of the finished bill draft. Sometimes these copies are not yet in the format required for introduction. In 1969 a computerized bill processing and printing system was first installed, with significant software upgrades in 1987 and 2000, and copies from computer-produced printouts are now delivered to the legislator for use as introduced copies. After approval of the draft by the legislator, the drafter will forward a copy to the Bill Typing Office (Room 104 on the first floor of the Legislative Office Building) for handling by the GARDS Bill Processing System. If the bill is drafted by anyone other than legislative staff members, the legislator must send the copy to the Bill Typing Office in Room 104 although legislative staff are available to review and comment on outside drafts. The bill is put into computer storage and proofread, and a corrected copy is obtained. Forty-five copies of the bill for House bills and 65 copies of the bill for Senate bills are produced in the Printing Room (Room 107 on the first floor of the Legislative Office Building). The copies bear a large "D" in the upper right-hand corner to denote that the bill is a draft copy. An official bill jacket is prepared and affixed to one of the copies. All of these copies are placed in an envelope and delivered to the sponsoring legislator through the office of the Principal Assistant of the appropriate house; or on request, the Bill Typing Office will deliver bills directly to the sponsor. At this point, the text of the bill is still confidential insofar as the legislative staff is concerned. Computer operators, proofreaders, and printers are constantly cautioned and checked to make certain that the sponsor's confidence is not violated.
Introduction: Under the Senate and House rules, a bill is filed with the Principal Assistant's Office and given a number. In the House this filing constitutes introduction. On the next legislative day, the bill receives its first reading on the floor of the House. In the Senate the bill's presentation to the Senate is its introduction. The bill is given a number and is normally referred to a committee. The bill number, date of introduction, and committee reference are input into computer storage; and a new bill with a large figure "1" in the upper right-hand corner of the first page is produced. A copy of this bill is placed in the bill notebook of every legislator, and additional copies are available from the Printed Bills Office in Room 1430 of the State Legislative Building.
Amendments: As bills are amended in the house of origin, new engrossed versions are produced and distributed. Subsequent versions bear the figure "2", "3", etc., in the upper right-hand corner of the first page for easy distinction from earlier versions.
If a bill passes the house of origin, all amendments are routinely engrossed in a new version before the bill is sent to the other house. If the bill is amended in the second house, the amendments are not engrossed, except for some amendments to committee substitutes of the second house, as the bill must be returned to the house of origin for approval, not of the basic text, but solely of the amendments adopted by the second house.
If the house of origin concurs in the amendments, the bill is sent to the Enrolling Office.
Conference Committee Reports: If the house of origin fails to concur in the amendments approved by the other house, a conference committee is usually appointed to try to resolve the differences. This committee reports back to both houses a recommended text without amendment. If the report is adopted in both houses, the bill is sent to the Enrolling Office. If the conferees fail to agree or if the report is rejected, new conferees may be appointed; and the conference process is repeated. However, if either house refuses to adopt the report of its conferees, no new conferees may be appointed.
Enrollment and Ratification: The Legislative Services Officer or the Legislative Service Officer's designee serves as Enrolling Clerk to the General Assembly. Bills for enrollment are sent to the Assistant Enrolling Clerk who checks the text for accuracy and then turns the copy over to the Bill Typing Office. The Bill Typing Office obtains a clean version of the final text. This version, called the enrolled bill, is submitted to the two presiding officers for their signatures. The signing of the enrolled bill by the presiding officers is the act of ratification. The signed copy is then transmitted by the enrolling office to the Governor, or filed directly with the Secretary of State depending on whether or not the Governor's signature is required.
Identification and Status of Introduced Bills: Members of the General Assembly and staff, and the public, have easy access to complete information on the identification, status, and legislative history of all current legislation being considered by the General Assembly. Any interested person may get information on the status of current legislation from the Bill Status (Video) System by calling, writing, or visiting the Bill Status Desk in the Legislative Library (Phone 919/733-7779; Room 2226 of the State Legislative Building), or online at http://www.ncleg.net.
A public terminal to access the status of bills is also located in the Printed Bills Office (Room 1430), or accessible on the Internet at http://www.ncleg.net.