Legislature, News

2017 legislative session convenes with glimpse of what’s to come; call for bipartisan effort among lawmakers

The North Carolina Senate unanimously passed its rules Wednesday for the 2017 legislative session, including how it will consider confirming gubernatorial nominations or appointments. The rule does not state any sort of timeline for the process.

For the first time in North Carolina history, the General Assembly passed a bill during one of the special sessions in December requiring Senate approval over Cabinet Secretary appointees.

You can find many of the appointees Gov. Roy Cooper has announced here.

There was no discussion from Senators about the new rule and it remains unclear when the process will get underway. The Senate adjourned until Jan. 25.

RULE 49. Consideration of Gubernatorial Nominations or Appointments. – When received by the Principal Clerk, written notice of a gubernatorial nomination or appointment that requires confirmation by the General Assembly or the Senate shall be read in session and shall be referred by the Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate, or in his absence the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, to the appropriate Senate committee. The Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate may file an appropriate resolution for consideration of the nomination or appointment. For statewide or at-large nominations or appointments, the Principal Clerk shall transmit a copy of the notice of nomination or appointment to the Senator or Senators representing the county in which the nominee or appointee resides. For nominations or appointments of persons to represent a particular district or region of the State, the Principal Clerk shall transmit a copy of the notice of nomination or appointment to the Senator or Senators representing all or a portion of the particular district or region to be represented. The chair of the Senate committee receiving referral of any nomination or appointment shall determine the procedure by which the committee shall consider that nomination or appointment and may make a report of its recommendation to the Senate.

In other news from the meeting Wednesday, Sen. Phil Berger (R-Guilford, Rockingham) was again elected President Pro Tem. Sen. Louis Pate (R-Lenoir, Pitt, Wayne) was elected Deputy President Pro Tem.

N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger

In his address to fellow legislators, Berger thanked them for placing their confidence in him and said he would do the best job he could. He commended the General Assembly for increasing jobs across the state, cutting the unemployment rate, reducing taxes for North Carolinians and increasing teacher pay to more than $50,000 per year for the first time in the state’s history.

He also said that most of what the General Assembly works on is not controversial and most laws passed with “overwhelming bipartisan support.” He said no matter what legislators’ political party, they are all there to help the state thrive and citizens reach their full potential.

“Members, as we consider the task ahead at the start of this session, let us remember all that we can accomplish when we work together,” Berger said. “And let us remember all that can be achieved as we continue down this new path for our state.”

Berger also gave a glimpse of what’s to come this session, noting intentions to maintain budget and spending discipline and a commitment to tax policies that will help return North Carolina to good fiscal health.

Let me be clear, we will not under circumstances return to the failed tax and spend policies of the past that gave us the mess that we had in 2011,” he said. “We’ll continue to look for ways to reduce the tax burden on families, small businesses and other job creators, helping them keep more of their earned money. We’ll continue efforts to reform and improve public education for our students and have already committed to raising the average teacher pay to $55,000 over the next two years. We’ll remain focused on providing a bright future for our children and helping build a stable workforce that will attract businesses to this state.”

Senators will work, he said, to foster a better business climate and to continue building state reserves to be well-prepared for the future.

Working across the aisle

After a series of tense and contentious extra sessions last month, the N.C. House officially convened the legislative session Wednesday on a more hopeful note.

Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) was elected to a second term as Speaker of the House and called for a renewed sense of

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore

congeniality.

“We will not always agree, but let us disagree respectfully and with kindness,” Moore said.

Strained by election season and divided by a number of important social and political issues, bipartisanship was in short supply in 2016.

But new Minority Leader Darren Jackson (D-Wake) extended a hand across the aisle Wednesday to second the nomination of Rep. Sarah Stevens (R-Surry) for speaker pro tempore. Jackson praised Stevens’ own spirit of bipartisan cooperation and said she will lead the House well on occasions when Moore is absent.

Beyond the housekeeping of electing new leadership, welcoming new members and taking their oaths, the House did little beyond the ceremonial Wednesday. Like the Senate, they adjourned until noon on January 25 – a move telegraphed earlier this week by a fundraising e-mail from Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), the powerful chair of the House Rules Committee.

Joe Killian of NC Policy Watch contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

GOP committee kills Virginia bathroom bill similar to House Bill 2

A GOP-led committee in Virginia killed a bathroom ...