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 It is a permanent measure, having the force of law until repealed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.

Corner offices: Colloquialism for the General Assembly’s leadership, namely Speaker of the House Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger


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 action

First Reading: The first presentation of a bill or its title for consideration; also may be called Introduction

Fiscal: Dealing with state revenues and expenditures

Fiscal 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 notes

Fiscal Year: An accounting period of 12 months. North Carolina’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30

Floor: That portion of the legislative chamber reserved for members and officers of the assembly or other persons granted privileged access

Floor 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 legislature

Germaneness: The relevance or appropriateness of amendments or substitutes


Hearing: Public discussion and appearance on a proposal or bill; usually scheduled by a committee

House 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 misconduct

Indefinite Postponement: A form of adverse disposition of a proposal for that session of the legislature

Insert: Add language to a bill or resolution

Interim: The interval between the long and short sessions of the legislature

Interim Committee: A committee established to study or investigate certain matters between annual or biennial legislative sessions and to report to the next regular session

Introducer: The legislator who presents a bill or resolution for consideration; may be joined by others, who are known as cointroducer; also may be called sponsor

Introduction: 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 chamber

Journal: An official chronological record of the actions taken and proceedings of the respective chambers

Judicial 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 terms

Legislative Day: A day on which either chamber convenes (or both chambers convene) to conduct official business

Legislative Intent: Purpose for which a measure is passed

Legislative Liaison: Person appointed to communicate between legislators and other government agencies

Legislative Oversight: Scrutiny of executive branch programs and performance by the legislature

Legislative Service Agency: Nonpartisan legislative branch agency providing services such as legal and bill drafting, impartial research and information or technical services

Legislator: Elected member of a legislative body

Legislature: The branch of state government responsible for enacting laws

Lieutenant 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 Senate

Line Item: Numeric line in an appropriation or budget bill

Line 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 veto

Lobbyist: A representative of a special interest group whose function is to influence legislation affecting his special interest

Local Act: Legislation enacted into law that has limited application, affecting fewer than 15 counties

Long Session: The odd-numbered first year of the General Assembly’s two-year legislative cycle, called a biennium


Majority Leader: A member of the minority political party designated to be leader

Majority Party: The political party having the greatest number of members in the legislature or in either chamber

Majority Report: A report that reflects the thinking of the members not favoring the majority position or action on an issue

Measure: General term for bill, resolution or memorial

Member Elect: Member who has been elected, but who has not yet taken the oath of office or who is not yet officially serving

Members Present: The term used to refer to those members who are actually present at a daily session

Memorial: 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 individuals

Minority Leader: A member of the minority political party designated to be leader

Minority Party: The political party having fewer numbers of members in the legislature or in either chamber

Minority Report: A report that reflects the thinking of the members not favoring the majority position or action on an issue

Minutes: Accurate record of the proceedings of a meeting in chronological order

Motion: Formal proposal offered by a member of a deliberative assembly


NCGA: The North Carolina General Assembly

Non-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 authority

Nonpartisan: 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 duties

Order of Business: The defined routine of procedure in the legislative body each day

Out 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 house

Partisan: Associated or affiliated with a single political party or caucusPer Diem: Literally, per day; daily expense money rendered to legislators or staff

Petition: Formal request submitted by an individual or group of individuals to the legislature

Point of Order: A question by a member to the presiding officer calling attention to a breach of order or of the rules

Postpone Indefinitely: A means of disposing of an issue by not setting a date on which to consider it again

Precedent: Interpretation of rulings by presiding officers on specific rules; unwritten rules that are established by custom

President 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 tie

President 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 Rules

Presiding Officer: Person designated to preside at a legislative session

Previous Question: A motion to close debate and bring the pending question or questions to an immediate vote

Principal 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 Journal

Private Act: Legislation enacted into law that has limited application

Public 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 valid

Reading: 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 process

Reapportionment: Redrawing legislative district boundaries to provide equality of representation; also may be called redistricting

Recess: Intermission in a daily session; intermission from one day to the next

Referral: The assigning or referring of a bill to committee

Regular Session: The annual (or biennial) meeting of the legislature required by constitution

Repeal: A method by which a legislative action is revoked or annulled

Resolution: 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 chamber

Roll 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 body

Rules: Regulating principles or methods of legislative procedure

Ruling 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 Senate

Senate: 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 election

Senate 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 Senate

Seniority: Recognition of prior legislative service

Sergeant-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 house

Session: (1) Period during which the legislature meets; (2) the daily meeting of the Senate or House

Simple Majority: One more than half of those voting on a question

Sine Die: Literally, “without day;” usually, adjournment without a day being set for reconvening; final adjournment

Speaker of the House: Presiding officer of the House of Representatives elected by the House

Special 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 Session

Sponsor: The legislator who presents a bill or resolution for consideration; may be joined by others, who are known as cointroducer; also may be called introducer

Standing Committee: A committee appointed with continuing responsibility in a general issue area or field of legislative activity

Status 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 law

Strike Out: The deletion of language from a bill or resolution

Sunset: Expiration date of a measure

Supplemental Appropriation: Adjustment of funds allocated by the original appropriation

Suspension 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 elected

Title: 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 value

Unicameral: 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 date

Veto Override: Vote by the legislature to pass a bill over a governor’s veto

Voice 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 prevailed

Vote: 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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