By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
January 13, 2017
RALEIGH – Newly elected lawmakers, along with those who were re-elected, made their way to Raleigh on Wednesday to take their oath of office. One hundred and seventy members that make up both the House and Senate were present at the Legislative Building on Jones Street.
There was the usual pomp and ceremony.
Long-time Principal Clerk, Denise Weeks brought the session into order for the House Chamber, which was followed by Rep. Phil Shepard’s offering of the Opening Prayer.
Afterward, there was the presentation of colors by the North Carolina National Guard’s Honor Guard.
Weeks also led in the Pledge of Allegiance and Ms. Stephanie Prestage sang the National Anthem and Mrs Amelia Davis Jackson sang “God Bless America.”
The roll was then called by Districts and the Honorable Paul Newby, Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court administered the oath to members.
Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) was elected to serve his second term as Speaker of the House. Rep. Sarah Stevens (R-Surry, Wilkes) was chosen as Speaker Pro-Tem and Rep. John Bell (R-Craven, Green, Lenoir, Wayne) was picked as House Majority Leader.
During election of officers, the state House for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, also tapped James White (31) as the new House Principal Clerk. White has been a protégé of Weeks since 2012. Weeks retired in 2016.
Opening Ceremonies were quite similar in the Senate Chamber. Kenny Jones of Capital Community Church led in the Opening Prayer. The Presentation of Colors was presented by the Army Junior ROTC Cadets from the John Motley Morehead High School in Eden. Miss Emily Berger sang the National Anthem. The Honorable Mark Martin, Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court administered the oath to Senate members.
Sen. Phil Berger (R-Guilford, Rockingham), who has served 9 consecutive terms in the state Senate was elected again to serve as Sen. President Pro-Tem. Sen. Louis Pate (R-Lenoir, Pitt, Wayne) was chosen as Deputy President Pro-Tem. Sen. Harry Brown (R-Jones, Onslow) was tapped again as Senate Majority Leader.
Both Moore and Berger in their speeches before their respective chambers spoke to the state’s economic growth based in policies that limit government spending, cut regulations, and invest more into education.
More specifically, Speaker Moore emphasized the need for civility when debating the questions that face the state. “We will not always agree,” said Moore, “but let us disagree with respectfully and with kindness.”
Berger said that most of what lawmakers consider is not controversial. But he added, “No matter what our political party, we’re all here because we want to help our state thrive and for our citizens to reach their full potential.”
Berger also graciously chided those who he said, “want to focus on what divides us – what draws the most campaign contributions, what attracts the most free press attention.”
In statements made to the Press, Moore indicated that it was likely the issue of HB 2 would be revisited during the 2017 session.
According to WRAL News, Moore said that conversations were ongoing about making changes. “I think you’ll see trying to find some compromise on that issue. You won’t see the General Assembly betray its principles on where it is, but if there are ways to try to deal with the concerns that were there and perhaps allay any concerns for the business community, I think you could probably see something like that.”
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said he had talked with some reliable members of the House and said we should anticipate efforts to repeal HB 2.
“It troubles me to hear such news,” said Dr. Creech, “because I don’t believe North Carolina wants repeal.”
“Some business interests for misguided reasons or because they’re being bullied by groups like the Human Rights Campaign may be pushing the leadership for repeal, but North Carolina doesn’t want women in men’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers,” said Dr. Creech. “And Christian business owners and churches don’t want to be fined or punished by the government because they morally object to such policies. What compromise is there, for heaven’s sake? HB 2 was a compromise. Public accommodations require you to follow your biology, but private businesses can do what they want.”
Lawmakers have gone home for now and will return to get down to work, January 25th.