Glossary
  • 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 It is a permanent measure, having the force of law until repealed.
  • 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 Senate 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 or
  • 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.
  • 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 session.
  • Election   Act of selecting a person to fill an office.
  • Emergency Clause   A statement in a bill that indicates the act shall take immediate effect.
  • 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.
  • 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. The North Carolina 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 1 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.
  • Majority Leader   A member of the majority political party designated to be a leader.
  • Majority Party   The political party having the greatest number of members in the legislature or in either chamber.
  • Majority Report   Recommendation of action on a measure that is submitted by a majority of the members of a committee.
  • 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 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 caucus.
  • Per 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 Lt. 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 business.
  • Quorum 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 2 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 1 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  Latin for "without day." Usually, adjournment without a day being set for reconvening; final adjournment. Each house may adjourn on its own motion.
  • 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.
  • 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.