Surprises keep on coming in the waning days of North Carolina's legislative session.
Last week it was the N.C. Senate which, in a hastily called committee meeting, inserted controversial new abortion proposals into a bill on Sharia law.
Wednesday it was the House. Committee members meeting to debate a bill on motorcycle safety found the bill had picked up a new sidecar: the abortion proposals. They were similar to the Senate's, but revised at the urging of Gov. Pat McCrory's administration.
They caught some lawmakers by surprise. But Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican handling the abortion provisions, told reporters, "We’re nearing the end of session. Things move quickly."
Then came more surprises.
They came in a regulatory reform bill, or as critics call it, the "Billboards Forever" bill.
Inserted into a bill involving various regulations were several seen publicly for the first time. Among them: provisions to allow more clearing of trees and other vegetation around billboards and to essentially prevent cities and towns from regulating existing billboards.
"The bottom line for us is that this legislation says, in effect, that billboards are forever," says Ben Hitchings, president of the N.C. Chapter of the American Planning Association. "The fact that this hasn't been vetted in any substantive way is a real concern."
The bill, SB 112, has other provisions that concern local officials.
It prohibits local governments from enacting environmental or other regulations more stringent than state or federal regulations. And it repeals zoning protest petitions, which give citizens more say in nearby development.
Paul Meyer of the N.C. League of Municipalities says the bill essentially puts city ordinances "in the hands of various state environmental agencies."
"Municipalities enact these environmental ordinances to respond to environmental threats, protect life and property, and streamline local development procedures," he said in a statement.
The bill is on Thursday's House calendar. If passed, and if the Senate concurs with its changes, the bill could present a dilemma for McCrory.
Last year, as a candidate for governor, he said he opposed GOP legislation that would curb local governments' ability to regulate billboards.