RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - A Wilmington lawmaker wants better protection for the men and women serving in the General Assembly. Rep. Rick Catlin (R-New Hanover) is a primary sponsor of House Bill 1071, which proposes to put metal detectors in the galleries of both the state House and Senate during sessions, and to add four more police officer positions in the General Assembly.
"I've been thinking about this for a while," Catlin said. "They have the detectors at many county commission meetings and city council meetings. I've talked with a number of other legislators and many agree it's just a smart thing to do. We've got a gallery above the House and Senate chambers, and there are hundreds of people sitting there and we can't see them. That's the only place we would do it, and just during sessions."
Catlin says he even found a way to pay for the metal detectors and additional officers. He is the primary sponsor on House Bill 1072, a proposal to limit the per diem lawmakers receive during the regular and short sessions of the General Assembly.
Catlin says limiting the long session per diem to 22 weeks, and the short session to 8 weeks, would save taxpayers about $1 million. Catlin says his research shows 78 percent of all states have some session limits, and North Carolina is one of just 11 states without any restrictions on time.
Catlin said HB1071 is not a reaction to any specific security-related incident in Raleigh or any other state. He recently received a commendation from local leaders and had to go through a detector to get into the chamber.
"I had one (detector) when I was a commissioner, and many other government boards mandate them," he said.
Both bills are scheduled to be introduced and assigned to committees on Wednesday.