Standing Committees and Subcommittees
During the legislative sessions, the Research Division provides the professional staff (attorneys and legislative analysts) to most standing committees and subcommittees of both houses. The primary role of the professional staff to a standing committee is to analyze legislation referred to that committee. The analysis or explanation is usually in writing, if time permits. The attorneys point out any serious constitutional problems, legislative impact on existing statutes, regulations and procedures, policies, and any ambiguities. The legislative analysts analyze the legislation's impact on policies and procedures. Professional staff is prepared to answer questions about the legislation and to gather and present any information the committee or its individual members might want in connection with the legislation. The professional committee staff is available to draft or help members draft amendments to or proposed committee substitutes for legislation in that committee and to describe these proposals for the committee.
Interim Study and Oversight Committees and Commissions
Between legislative sessions, the General Assembly studies many issues of importance to the State. These studies are performed by special interim commissions or committees consisting of legislators, other state officials, and members of the general public. Research Division personnel, as well as those from the General Assembly's other divisions, serve as staff to these commissions. The staff helps to arrange the agenda for each meeting, edits the minutes of the meeting, provides legal and other analysis, obtains information necessary for the study, serves as a liaison between the commission and other groups interested in the subject matter of the study, drafts interim and final study reports, and drafts any legislation that would implement the recommendations of the reports.
Although most bill drafting requests are routinely sent to the legislature's Bill Drafting Division, the legal staff of the Research Division can and frequently does draft legislation for commissions or for individual legislators.
The staff of the Research Division answers information requests from legislators on legislation enacted, pending, or contemplated. Any legislator may contact directly any of the professional staff, including the librarian, on any request for information. The first priority of this Division is to serve the members of the General Assembly; however, the staff also answers questions from other North Carolina State and local governmental agencies, from other states, the federal government, and private citizens on pending and ratified legislation.
The staff will supply information to legislators so that they can answer the requests of their constituents and make presentations. The staff will also provide information to assist legislators in the preparation of speeches or letters to constituents; however, the staff does not draft speeches or letters to constituents. Upon the request of a legislator, the staff will provide a legislator's constituent with an outline of relevant issues to be considered and refer them to the state or federal office regulating the matter, private counsel, or legal aid office. However, Research Division staff does not advise private citizens on their rights or duties under the law, and the staff does not undertake to provide bill drafts or substantial research information to the public except upon the specific request of individual legislators.
The Legislative Library
The Legislative Library was created to support the research and information needs of the General Assembly and its staff, including the staff of the Research, Bill Drafting and Fiscal Research Divisions. The Legislative Library can supply legislators and the public with information on the status of legislation from the current and past sessions. In addition, the library offers limited reference services to the general public, primarily with regard to copies of study reports and access to the General Assembly's web-based information. The library staff does not compile legislative histories, but will provide on-site assistance to anyone interested in researching committee minutes and other primary legislative materials.
The Legislative Library is open from 8:30 to 5:30 Monday through Friday and when the General Assembly is in session, including Monday nights. In addition, the LOB Library opens at 8:00 a.m. during the legislative session.