NC Legislature Begins, Less Politically Imbalanced
Updated 1:40 p.m.
Republican lawmakers re-elected to lead the North Carolina House and Senate are urging colleagues to reach consensus in approving policy and legislation during the next two years.The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to elect Sen. Phil Berger of Eden as Senate leader for a fifth term, while the House picked Rep. Tim Moore of Kings Mountain as speaker for a third term. House Minority Leader Darren Jackson of Raleigh ran against Moore.
In acceptance speeches, Berger and Moore said they hoped legislators can find common ground on issues such as education, hurricane relief and government efficiency. Democrats won enough seats in November to end the GOP's veto-proof majorities, giving them more leverage.
The House re-elected Rep. Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy as speaker pro tempore — the chamber's No. 2 election position, while Sen. Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine was picked the Senate's deputy leader.
The North Carolina General Assembly has opened its two-year session with Republicans still in charge but Democrats making enough gains in November to give them and Gov. Roy Cooper leverage at the policy negotiating table.
The House and Senate gaveled in at midday Wednesday for one-day ceremonial and organizational meetings. Members were expected to re-elect House Speaker Tim Moore and Sen. Phil Berger to the top leadership positions in their respective chambers.
The 170 people elected in the fall elections are being seated, including Democrat Rachel Hunt of Mecklenburg County. A right-leaning group late Tuesday asked the House to refuse to seat Hunt because of absentee ballot questions in her district, but GOP Rep. David Lewis said Wednesday no one would block Hunt from joining the House.