Act: Legislation enacted into law. A bill that has passed both houses of the legislature, been enrolled, ratified, signed by the governor or passed over the governor’s office, and printed. It is a permanent measure, having the force of law until repealed

Acclamation: An oral vote (often unanimous), when there is only one nomination, expressing approval by shouts, hand-clapping, etc., rather than by formal ballot

Adjournment: Termination of a session for that day, with the hour and day of the next meeting being set

Adjournment sine die: Final termination of a regular or special legislative session

Adoption: Approval or acceptance; usually applied to amendments, committee reports or resolutions

Amendment: Any alteration made (or proposed to be made) to a bill or clause thereof, by adding, deleting, substituting, or omitting

Appeal: A parliamentary procedure for testing (and possibly changing) the decision of a presiding officer

Apportionment: Establishment of the legislative districts from which members are elected

Appropriation: Funds allocated for various departments of government set aside by formal action for specific use. Allows money to be spent; is not actual expenditure record

At-Large Election: An election in which candidates are chosen on an individual basis rather than as representatives of a geographically defined, single-member district. At-large elections can be held at the legislative and presidential levels. In the United State of America, some states hold at-large elections for congressional seats, when, for instance, a state’s entire population warrants only one representative


Bicameral:  A legislature consisting of two separate chambers, each serving as a check on the other’s power

Biennium: Two-year term of legislative activity

Bill: Draft of a proposed law presented to the legislature for consideration

Bill Number: The identifying number given each bill filed for introduction

Bipartisan: Having an affiliation or association with (or representatives of) both political parties or caucuses in a two party system

Budget: (1) The suggested allocation of state moneys presented to the legislature for consideration; (2) a formal document that reflects the authorized expenditures of the state


Calendar: (1) A printed list of proposed legislation that is arranged according to the order of business and is scheduled for consideration by a chamber. (2) Agenda of daily legislative business in a chamber

Calendar Day: Literally a day as listed on the Gregorian calendar

Call of the Senate or House: Procedure used to compel the attendance of members who are missing from the chamber and to compel those members already in attendance to remain in the chamber

Carry-Over Legislation: Legislation that is held over from the first year of a legislative biennium to the second year

Caucus: An informal meeting of a group of the members; most commonly based on political party affiliation, but may have other bases, such as gender, race, geographic location or specific issue

Censure: An action by a legislative body to officially reprimand an elected official for inappropriate or illegal actions committed by that official while in office. The act of censuring is an official condemnation for inappropriate or illegal actions committed by a public official while holding a position of trust

Chamber: Official hall for the meeting of a legislative body

Clerk of the House: A non-legislator officer who is elected by the members of the House to perform and direct the parliamentary and clerical functions of the chamber. Also may be titled “house principal clerk.”

Clerk of the Senate: A non-legislator officer who is elected by the members of the Senate to perform and direct the parliamentary and clerical functions of the chamber. Also may be titled “senate principal clerk.”

Code: A compilation of laws and their revisions according to subject matter arranged by title, chapter and section. The official code of North Carolina is the North Carolina General Statutes

Committee: A body of members appointed by the presiding officer (or another authority specified by the chamber) to consider and make recommendations concerning disposition of bills, resolutions and other related matters

Committee Amendment: An alteration made (or proposed to be made) to a bill that is offered by a legislative committee

Committee of the Whole: Either house of the legislature sitting in its entirety as a committee to consider bills or issues

Committee Report: Official release of a bill or resolution from committee with (or without) a specific recommendation, such as pass, pass as amended or do not pass

Committee Substitute: A bill offered by a committee in lieu of another bill that was originally referred to the committee for consideration; technically, the committee substitute is an amendment to the original bill

Concurrence (To Concur): Action by which one house agrees to a proposal or action that the other chamber has approved

Conferee: Members of a conference committee appointed by the Senate President and the House Speaker

Conference Committee: A committee composed of members from the two houses specifically appointed to reconcile the differences between House and Senate versions of a bill

Conflict of Interest: Untenable position that threatens the ability of a legislator to vote impartially due to some personal interest in a legislative issue

Constituent: A citizen residing within the district of a legislator

Constitution: A written instrument embodying the fundamental principles of the state that guarantees powers and duties of the government and guarantees certain rights to the people. You can read North Carolina’s Constitution here.

Contiguous area (annexation): Any area which, at the time annexation procedures are initiated, either abuts directly on the municipal boundary or is separated from the municipal boundary by a street or street right-of-way, a creek or river, the right-of-way of a railroad or other public service corporation, lands owned by the municipality or some other political subdivision, or lands owned by the State of North Carolina. A connecting corridor consisting solely of the length of a street or street right-of-way may not be used to establish contiguity.

Convene: When the members of a chamber gather for the meeting of the legislature daily, weekly and at the beginning of a session as provide by the constitution or law


Debatable: Open to parliamentary discussion or argument

Debate: Discussion of a matter according to parliamentary rules

Decorum: Proper order, etiquette and conduct of members during a floor session

Died in Committee: The defeat of a bill by not returning it from committee to the house for further action

Dilatory: Deliberate use of parliamentary procedure to delay

Dissent: Difference of opinion; to cast a negative vote

District: That division of the state represented by a legislator distinguished numerically or by geographical boundaries

Division: A method of voting; a request that members stand or raise hands to be counted when the outcome of a voice vote is unclear or in dispute

Division of a Question: Procedure to separate a matter to be voted upon into two or more questions


Effective Date: A law generally becomes effective, or binding, either upon a date specified in the law itself or, in the absence of such a date, 60 days after adjournment of the biennial sessionElection: Act of selecting a person to fill an office

Emergency Clause: A statement in a bill that indicates the act shall take immediate effect

Eminent Domain: Eminent domain refers to the power possessed by the state over all property within the state, specifically its power to appropriate property for a public use. In some jurisdictions, the state delegates eminent domain power to certain public and private companies, typically utilities, such that they can bring eminent domain actions to run telephone, power, water, or gas lines. In most countries, including the United States under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, the owner of any appropriated land is entitled to reasonable compensation, usually defined as the fair market value of the property. Proceedings to take land under eminent domain are typically referred to as “condemnation” proceedings.

Enacting Clause: That clause of an act that formally expresses the legislative sanction. In North Carolina the constitutionally required enacting clause reads, “The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts”

Engross: The process of by which adopted amendments and other changes are incorporated into a bill as it makes its way through the Senate or House

Engrossed Edition: The version of a bill as passed by one house with the floor amendments worked into it

Enroll: The process of changing a bill which has passed both chambers into its final format for transmission to the governor

Enrolled Edition: The final version of a bill, which has passed both chambers, and is reprinted in preparation for the signatures of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. After these confirmatory signatures, the enrolled bill goes to the Governor

Excused: Absent with the permission of the body or the presiding officer

Executive Branch: The Executive Branch of government enforces laws made by the legislature. The head of this branch is the Governor, who is elected every four years. Along with the Governor, the Executive Branch also includes the Lieutenant Governor, the Council of State, and many State agencies

Executive Session: A session excluding from the chamber or committee room all persons other than members and essential staff personnel

Extraordinary Session: A special meeting of the legislature that is called by the governor (or the legislature itself) and limited to specific matters. Also called a Special Session

Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ): Currently under North Carolina law, an ETJ is area extending one mile beyond a city’s borders within which municipalities can exercise zoning authority and other powers without the consent of those affected


Filibuster: The prolonged discussion of a bill to delay legislative actionFirst Reading: The first presentation of a bill or its title for consideration; also may be called IntroductionFiscal: Dealing with state revenues and expendituresFiscal Note: A fiscal note seeks to state in dollars the estimated amount of increase or decrease in revenue or expenditures and the present and future implications of a piece of pending legislation. Only General Assembly members can request fiscal notesFiscal Year: An accounting period of 12 months. The North Carolina fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30Floor: That portion of the legislative chamber reserved for members and officers of the assembly or other persons granted privileged accessFloor Amendment: An alternation offered to a legislative document that is presented by a legislator while that document is being discussed on the floor of that legislator’s chamber


Gallery: Balconies of the chamber from which visitors may view the proceedings of the legislatureGermaneness: The relevance or appropriateness of amendments or substitutes


Hearing: Public discussion and appearance on a proposal or bill; usually scheduled by a committeeHouse of Representatives: 120 members who serve a term of 2 years. Members must have lived in their districts one year before election


Impeachment: Procedure to remove from office a public official accused of misconductIndefinite Postponement: A form of adverse disposition of a proposal for that session of the legislatureInsert: Add language to a bill or resolutionInterim: The interval between the long and short sessions of the legislatureInterim Committee: A committee established to study or investigate certain matters between annual or biennial legislative sessions and to report to the next regular sessionIntroducer: The legislator who presents a bill or resolution for consideration; may be joined by others, who are known as cointroducer; also may be called sponsorIntroduction: The formal presentation of a proposal after it has been drafted


Joint Committee: A committee composed of members from both chambers

Joint Rules: Parliamentary rules governing joint procedures or operations of the Senate and House
Joint Session: A combined meeting of the Senate and House in one chamberJournal: An official chronological record of the actions taken and proceedings of the respective chambersJudicial Branch: The Judicial Branch interprets what our laws mean and makes decisions about the laws and those who break them. The Courts of the Judicial Branch are split into three divisions, the Appellate Division, the Superior Court Division, and the District Court Division


Legislative Branch: The Legislative Branch makes laws for North Carolina. It is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives, which together are known as the General Assembly. The Legislature meets biennially and all members are elected for two-year termsLegislative Day: A day on which either chamber convenes (or both chambers convene) to conduct official businessLegislative Intent: Purpose for which a measure is passedLegislative Liaison: Person appointed to communicate between legislators and other government agenciesLegislative Oversight: Scrutiny of executive branch programs and performance by the legislatureLegislative Service Agency: Nonpartisan legislative branch agency providing services such as legal and bill drafting, impartial research and information or technical servicesLegislator: Elected member of a legislative bodyLegislature: The branch of state government responsible for enacting lawsLieutenant Governor: The presiding officer of the Senate and is elected in a statewide election every four years. Their main duty is to maintain order in the SenateLine Item: Numeric line in an appropriation or budget billLine Item Veto: An action taken by a governor to prevent the enactment of an item of an appropriation bill. The North Carolina governor does not have this type of vetoLobbyist: A representative of a special interest group whose function is to influence legislation affecting his special interestLocal Act: Legislation enacted into law that has limited application, affecting fewer than 15 counties


Majority Leader: A member of the minority political party designated to be leaderMajority Party: The political party having the greatest number of members in the legislature or in either chamberMajority Report: A report that reflects the thinking of the members not favoring the majority position or action on an issueMeasure: General term for bill, resolution or memorialMember Elect: Member who has been elected, but who has not yet taken the oath of office or who is not yet officially servingMembers Present: The term used to refer to those members who are actually present at a daily sessionMemorial: The method by which the legislature addresses or petitions Congress and other governments or governmental agencies; method by which the legislature congratulates or honors groups or individualsMinority Leader: A member of the minority political party designated to be leaderMinority Party: The political party having fewer numbers of members in the legislature or in either chamberMinority Report: A report that reflects the thinking of the members not favoring the majority position or action on an issueMinutes: Accurate record of the proceedings of a meeting in chronological orderMotion: Formal proposal offered by a member of a deliberative assembly


NCGA: The North Carolina General AssemblyNon-Standing Committee or Commission: A committee or commission authorized by legislation to study specific topics. The powers and duties of each committee are set forth in the authorizing legislation. The membership is appointed by the Speaker of the House and/or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. In some instances other persons or entities may have appointing authorityNonpartisan: Having no association or affiliation with a political party or caucus


Oath of Office: Oath taken by members-elect of the legislature prior to being seated and embarking upon official dutiesOrder of Business: The defined routine of procedure in the legislative body each dayOut of Order: Not being conducted under proper parliamentary rules and procedures


Parliamentary Inquiry: Question posed by a member to the presiding officer for clarification of the procedure or business before the housePartisan: Associated or affiliated with a single political party or caucusPer Diem: Literally, per day; daily expense money rendered to legislators or staffPetition: Formal request submitted by an individual or group of individuals to the legislaturePoint of Order: A question by a member to the presiding officer calling attention to a breach of order or of the rulesPostpone Indefinitely: A means of disposing of an issue by not setting a date on which to consider it againPrecedent: Interpretation of rulings by presiding officers on specific rules; unwritten rules that are established by customPresident of the Senate: The Lieutenant Governor serves as Senate President and presides over the daily session. The Senate President does not vote except to break a tiePresident Pro Tempore (Pro Tem) of the Senate: The officer elected by the Senate to preside in the absence of the Senate President and to exercise other duties set out in the Senate RulesPresiding Officer: Person designated to preside at a legislative sessionPrevious Question: A motion to close debate and bring the pending question or questions to an immediate votePrincipal Clerk: Responsible for the administrative duties of the Senate/House and is elected by the members every two years. Responsible for documenting all of the actions that are taken on bills and recording these actions in the JournalPrivate Act: Legislation enacted into law that has limited applicationPublic Act: Legislation enacted into law that applies to the public at large, affecting 15 or more counties


Quorum: When a legislative body is assembled, the minimum number of members required to transact businessQuorum Call: A method used to establish the presence of a majority for the lawful transacting of business


Ratify: To approve and make validReading: Presentation of a bill before either chamber by the reading the bill, its title or its number. A formal procedure required by constitution and rules that indicates a stage in enactment processReapportionment: Redrawing legislative district boundaries to provide equality of representation; also may be called redistrictingRecess: Intermission in a daily session; intermission from one day to the nextReferral: The assigning or referring of a bill to committeeRegular Session: The annual (or biennial) meeting of the legislature required by constitutionRepeal: A method by which a legislative action is revoked or annulledResolution: A document that expresses the sentiment or intent of the legislature or a chamber, that governs the business of the legislature, or a chamber, or that expresses recognition by the legislature or a chamberRoll Call: Names of the members being called in alphabetical order and recorded; used to establish a quorum or to take a vote on an issue before the bodyRules: Regulating principles or methods of legislative procedureRuling of the Chair: A decision by the presiding officer concerning a question of order or procedure


Select Committee: A committee established by the Speaker of the House, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, or by an adopted resolution of either Chamber for a particular issue. This committee may be established as single chamber committee or may be a joint committee. The powers and duties for the committee are set forth by the establishing authority and the membership is appointed by the Speaker of the House and/or the President Pro tempore of the SenateSenate: 50 members who serve a term of two years. Members must be 25 years old when elected; have lived in NC as a citizen for 2 years; and have lived in their district one year before electionSenate Principal Clerk: A non-legislator officer appointed or elected by the members of the Senate to perform and direct the parliamentary and clerical functions of the SenateSeniority: Recognition of prior legislative serviceSergeant-At-Arms: The person charged with enforcing the directions of the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Sergeant’s office is responsible for the security of the respective legislative body and maintenance of property of that houseSession: (1) Period during which the legislature meets; (2) the daily meeting of the Senate or HouseSimple Majority: One more than half of those voting on a questionSine Die: Literally, “without day;” usually, adjournment without a day being set for reconvening; final adjournmentSpeaker of the House: Presiding officer of the House of Representatives elected by the HouseSpecial Session: A special meeting of the legislature that is called by the governor (or the legislature itself) and limited to specific matters. Also called a Extraordinary SessionSponsor: The legislator who presents a bill or resolution for consideration; may be joined by others, who are known as cointroducer; also may be called introducerStanding Committee: A committee appointed with continuing responsibility in a general issue area or field of legislative activityStatus of Bill: The progress of a bill at any given time in the legislative process. It can be in committee, on the calendar, in the other house, etc.Statute: A formal enactment of the legislature of a more permanent nature. The term “statute” is used to designate written law, as distinguished from unwritten lawStrike Out: The deletion of language from a bill or resolutionSunset: Expiration date of a measureSupplemental Appropriation: Adjustment of funds allocated by the original appropriationSuspension of the Rules: Parliamentary procedure whereby actions can be taken that would otherwise be out of order


Term of Office: Period of time for which a person is electedTitle: A concise statement of the subject and the contents of a bill


Underwater mortgages: Mortgage arrangements that effectively leave the owner with more debt on the property than the current market valueUnicameral: A legislature with only one chamber


Veto: Action by the governor to disapprove a measure. The North Carolina governor has had veto power from 1997 to dateVeto Override: Vote by the legislature to pass a bill over a governor’s vetoVoice Vote: Oral expression of the members when a question is submitted for their determination. When asked by the presiding officers, members respond “aye” or “nay.” The presiding officer then decides which side prevailedVote: Formal expression of a decision by the body.


Yeas and Nays: Recorded vote of members on an issue

Yield: To relinquish the floor to another member to speak or ask question

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