The N.C. General Assembly commenced its 2013 session on Wednesday by swearing in members, electing leadership and assigning committees before adjourning until Jan. 30.
Incoming Gov. Pat McCrory watched from the gallery as members of the state House and Senate took the oath of office, with his fellow Republicans holding firm majorities in both chambers.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, the first Republican to hold that post in 20 years, presided in the Senate as the body re-elected Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) for a second term as president pro tem. Sen. Louis Pate (R-Wayne) was selected as deputy president pro tem.
In speaking before the Senate, Berger signaled a continued push for the Republican-backed policies championed by the GOP majority that took the reins of power in the legislature as a result of the 2010 elections and for the first time in more than a century.
“Today we renew the fight for reform that started two years ago when the voters sent a new General Assembly to Raleigh to change the way our government operates,” Berger said. “For too many years, North Carolina tried to tax and spend its way to prosperity.”
Berger also seemed to distance the state GOP from the national party, saying, “to my Republican colleagues, we must show our constituents, this state and this country that there is a real difference between a Washington Republican and a North Carolina Republican. North Carolina Republicans deliver.”
In the House, Rep. Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) was re-elected to a second – and what he says will be a final – term as speaker. Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) was chosen as speaker pro tem.
In addressing the House, Tillis spoke of his desire for educational, regulatory and tax reform.
“North Carolina’s tax system is outdated and it’s built upon an economy that existed decades ago. The high level of taxes and the complexity of our taxation system weaken North Carolina’s competitive advantage,” Tillis said. “We must be sensitive to the implications of broad-based tax reform, but reform we must.”
The single-day session was heavy on ceremony and light on legislative work, with few of the divisions on display between the Republican majority and Democratic minority. Instead, both Berger and Tillis were re-elected to their leadership positions without any opposition. This year’s session will begin in earnest when lawmakers reconvene at the end of the month.
Full audio of the opening day of session can be heard below, courtesy of VoterRadio.com.