The Latest: New lawmakers meet for 1-day organizing session
The North Carolina House and Senate have officially started their two-year session
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the North Carolina legislature convening Wednesday for a one-day organizational session (all times local):
The North Carolina House and Senate have officially started their two-year session.
The General Assembly was expected to meet for only a few hours Wednesday for the ceremonial swearings-in of the 170 legislators elected in November, then adjourn for two weeks. The chambers also will choose their top leaders before going home.
House Speaker Tim Moore of Kings Mountain and Senate leader Phil Berger of Eden are likely to be re-elected to the posts. Legislators also will be decided on other positions, including a successor to longtime House Principal Clerk Denise Weeks. She announced her retirement last year.
The session opens amid heightened partisan strife in state government. The new governor is Democrat Roy Cooper, but GOP lawmakers hold veto-proof margins. Cooper has sued over laws the previous edition of the legislature passed last month reducing or checking Cooper’s powers
A bipartisan advocacy group committed to getting a new method approved to draw North Carolina legislative and congressional districts say the latest legal dispute over General Assembly boundaries at the U.S. Supreme Court reinforces the need for change.
The North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying & Government Reform held a news conference at the Legislative Building before lawmakers convened the two-year session Wednesday.
The boundaries currently are drawn by House and Senate Republicans. The coalition members run from the state AFL-CIO to the conservative John Locke Foundation. It backs nonpartisan legislative staff to draw them in consultation with a citizens’ commission.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday delayed a lower court ruling ordering legislators to redraw 28 Senate and House districts and hold special elections using them this fall.
“Nonpartisan redistricting” legislation passed the House in 2011, but Republican leaders, particularly in the Senate, have been cool to the idea recently.
The 170 North Carolina state lawmakers elected in November are coming to Raleigh to choose leaders and otherwise celebrate their new jobs with family and friends.
The General Assembly was scheduled to convene at midday Wednesday for a one-day session to hold traditional swearings-in and organize for the next two years.
The Republican-controlled legislature is expected to re-elect Tim Moore of Kings Mountain as House speaker and Phil Berger of Eden as Senate leader. They’ll both make speeches to lay out their agenda, which is likely to offer contrasts with new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. The General Assembly will return Jan. 25 to get down to business.
The previous edition of the legislature — elected in 2014 — had been meeting a lot recently — holding three sessions in December.