Under the Dome

House Democrats concerned about fast-tracked legislation on first day

It's the first day of the legislative session and House Democrats already are raising concerns about how quickly Republicans are planning to move a controversial measure to curtail unemployment benefits as the state's jobless rate hangs at 9.2 percent.

Republicans plan to hear the legislation -- House Bill 4 -- Thursday morning, on the second day of the legislative session, with floor debate expected early next week. State Rep. Paul Luebke, a Durham Democrat, asked to push the committee meeting to next week to give lawmakers more time to consider the bill, which was filed Wednesday. "Would you consider giving us members time to read the bill, ... so we actually have time to read the bill and make comments," Luebke asked.

Rep. Julia Howard, a Mocksville Republican who is leading the effort, acknowledged it is a rather lengthy (70-page) bill but refused to consider delaying the committee meeting. She said the concept of the bill has been in the public sphere long enough for members to consider.

House Democratic leader Larry Hall said Democrats would offer amendments in committee to "balance" the legislation.

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