By Lindsay Marchello
Carolina Journal News Service
RALEIGH — Redistricting could prove contentious in next year’s legislative session.
House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, previewed the 2021 legislature at a news conference at N.C. Republican Party headquarters in Raleigh Monday, Nov. 16. Along with redistricting, the speaker discussed fiscal issues, a potential federal COVID relief package, and Medicaid expansion as issues lawmakers will confront.
The General Assembly will have to draw new maps after results from the decennial census come in. Responding to a question from Carolina Journal, Moore said he liked the transparency the legislature used to draw maps last year. Expect to see a similar process, he said.
Several left-leaning groups brought lawsuits challenging the maps Republicans had drawn after the 2018 election. Courts forced Republicans to redraw maps using court-approved templates. The process was done in the open, with the public able to watch over a livestream.
Moore said census data probably won’t arrive until mid-year. That leaves plenty of time to decide which maps to use as a starting point for the legislative and congressional districts.
Moore was unanimously renominated for a fourth term as speaker by the Republican House caucus, which gained four seats in the recent election.
The caucus gathered virtually and in-person to choose leaders. A formal vote will come early next year.
The entire leadership team won unanimous re-election: Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-Surry (Speaker Pro Tempore); Rep. John Bell, R-Wayne (House Majority Leader); Rep. Brenden Jones, R-Columbus (Deputy Majority Leader); Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland (Conference Leader); Rep. Jon Hardister, R-Guilford (Majority Whip); and Rep. Pat Hurley, R-Randolph (Joint Conference Leader).
A blue wave expected to sweep out GOP legislators never materialized. Instead, Republicans maintained a hold on the General Assembly with 28 seats in the Senate and 69 in the House.
“We have a mandate to legislate,” Moore said.
But voters also re-elected Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, to lead the executive branch.
Legislative Republicans and Cooper rarely see eye-to-eye on major policy issues, including Medicaid expansion and school choice.
Cooper has shown he isn’t afraid to use his veto powers, and Republicans no longer have supermajority status to challenge his vetoes. Republicans would need the votes of two Democrats in the Senate and three in the House to override if all members are present.
The upcoming legislative session will test each side’s willingness to compromise.
Moore said he’s spoken with Cooper about areas of common ground. The House speaker doesn’t want a repeat of the budget stalemate that dominated the past legislative session.
Moore said Cooper shouldn’t hold up the legislative agenda over one issue, a reference to Cooper’s ultimatum to expand Medicaid as a condition of passing a budget.
Moore said any proposal to expand Medicaid without conditions would have failed in the House and the Senate. He suggested Cooper would get more cooperation if he were more flexible on the issue.