Historic Session Began Today
Special Report - January 26, 2011
The 2011-12 session of the North Carolina General Assembly began at Noon today in what is expected to be a very different legislative session than in years past, with Republicans holding a majority in both the House and Senate for the first time in over a century. In one of the first orders of business, each chamber officially nominated and voted upon candidates for a variety of leadership positions. Rep. Thom Tills (R-Mecklenburg), selected in November 2010 by the House Republican Caucus as their candidate, will replace Rep. Joe Hackney (D-Orange) as Speaker of the House. House Republicans also nominated and elected Rep. Dale Folwell (RForsyth) to serve as Speaker Pro Tempore. Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam was also unanimously chosen by Republicans to be the House Majority Leader. House Democrats chose Hackney as their caucus Minority Leader.
In the Senate, Senator Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) was chosen to serve as President Pro Tempore, replacing Sen. Marc Basnight (D-Dare), who had previously served a record 18 years in that position. Additionally, Sen. Jim Forrester (R-Gaston) was chosen to serve as deputy president pro tem. Senate Republicans have chosen Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) to serve as the new majority leader, while Senate Democrats chose Sen. Martin Nesbitt (DBuncombe) to as their caucus leader in the Minority Leader position.
Republican leaders in both the House and Senate have committed to a 10-point legislative agenda that they will pursue in the first 100 days of the session. That list includes: balancing the state budget’s more than $3.5 billion deficit without raising tax rates; adjusting taxes to stimulate job creation; exempting North Carolinians from certain mandates in the recently-passed federal healthcare reform bill; and eliminating the arbitrary charter school cap. Unfortunately, their 10-point list does not include some high priority items for pro-family advocates in North Carolina, such as the long-awaited state constitutional amendment protecting the definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman, and informed consent for women seeking an abortion, among others.
At a recent meeting with reporters in Raleigh, as stated by the Carolina Journal, Senator Berger provided a preview of the 2011-12 session. Berger emphasized that he anticipates that budget issues and redistricting will be tackled before social issues. “There will be bills introduced by members that deal with protection of traditional marriage, that deal with some abortion issues,” Berger said. “We do not intend to focus on those issues until we have addressed the issue that we believe that voters elected Republicans to deal with, and that is the very serious fiscal issues that are facing the state. Once we’ve addressed those issues, once we’ve addressed redistricting … then other bills that have been introduced will wind their way through as you would expect.”
Leaders in both chambers have indicated that legislative committees will begin meeting to consider legislation as early as next week. Temporary House rules approved today limit each member to filing no more than 10 bills to be considered during the session.
Republicans Choose New Leaders - November 22, 2010
General Assembly To Change Hands - September 28, 2010
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