State lawmakers gathered in Raleigh on Wednesday for an “organizational session” to set the stage for the start of the 2021 Legislative Session, which will begin in earnest on January 27. State House and Senate members were sworn into office and officially elected their leaders for the two-year legislative biennium. State Senator Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) was elected to his sixth term as President Pro Tempore of the N.C. Senate, and Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) was elected to his fourth term as Speaker of the N.C. House of Representatives. Newly elected Republican Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson assumed his post as President of the State Senate and presided over that chamber’s operations.
Republicans hold solid majorities in both chambers, with a 69-51 GOP advantage in the State House and 28-22 margin in the State Senate. Despite this, the General Assembly faces limitations on what it likely will be able to accomplish this session, because second-term Democratic Governor Roy Cooper holds a VETO stamp, which he has wielded far more than any previous governor.
The main priority of the 2021 Session—in addition to approving a state budget—is expected to be a focus on issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, including health, the economy, and education. State lawmakers will also be charged with re-drawing state legislative and congressional district maps later in the year following the release of 2020 census data.
In contrast to the activities in our nation’s capital last week, Wednesday’s gathering at the state legislature was generally peaceful. Legislative leaders rebuked the riotous activity that took place in Washington, D.C. and called on their colleagues and the people of North Carolina to treat each other with kindness and respect, despite differences in politics and policy positions.
More information about the North Carolina General Assembly, members of the State House and Senate, daily calendars, and committee appointments can be found on the General Assembly website at www.ncleg.gov.