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House rule change prompted by Democrats entering Thom Tillis' office

An impromptu change to the House rules Thursday is prompting consternation among some Democrats, who say they are being unfairly targeted.

The new rule says no one can enter a lawmaker's office without permission. It doesn't apply to certain legislative staff, including cleaning and law enforcement, and provides an exception for the Rules Committee Chairman who enters with a legislative employee.

It came about after a handful of Democrats entered Speaker Thom Tillis' personal office to deliver a petition calling for a stop to the abortion bill. The incident that prompted the rule change was first reported by WRAL-TV. When the lawmakers put the petition on his desk, they took a photo -- which hit Twitter and caused a sharp reaction from Republicans who considered it an intrusion.

In a statement, Democratic Rep. Susan Fisher of Asheville, one of the lawmakers who delivered the petition, said the doors to the outer and inner office were open and no staffers were present, so they placed the petition on Tillis' desk.

Fisher shot back against critics saying the rule change "is the only response we've received from Speaker Tillis (regarding the petition.) That is truly disappointing," she said.

The Senate is expected to approve the abortion bill Thursday and send it to the governor.


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