Members of the N.C. House of Representatives took the oath of office Wednesday, opening the long legislative session for 2023. Republicans have two more seats in the chamber this session, after voters in November elected 71 Republicans and 49 Democrats. Those totals leave Republicans one vote shy of a veto-proof supermajority.
Rep. Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin, nominated Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, to return as speaker of the House, seconded by Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln. Saine and Moore were both first elected to the N.C. House in 2002.
“To our new members, you will find we are like family,” said Saine. “Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we fight, sometimes we even cry. We celebrate birthdays, we remember those who’ve passed on, and we do it all in this chamber. Regardless of party, you’ll find it doesn’t matter. You are forming lifelong friendships.”
“Under his leadership, we have been persistent in dispelling the myth of the upper chamber being located across the hall,” said Dixon, referring to the state Senate. “When needed he has shown with real grit his determination to promote the will of this chamber.”
Moore was elected speaker for a fifth term, setting a record as the longest-serving speaker in state history. Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-Surry, was unanimously elected speaker pro tempore. Democrats have elected Rep. Robert Reives to return as minority leader, and James White was unanimously elected as House principal clerk, a nonpartisan role that is responsible for the administrative duties of the chamber and is elected by the members every two years.
N.C. Chief Justice Paul Newby administered the oath of office for members and Moore, but his comments were interrupted briefly as Rep. Bill Brisson, R- Bladen, experienced a medical emergency. Brisson later returned to the chamber for the oath of office, entering to a standing ovation from his colleagues.
“It’s an exciting time to be in North Carolina. We are now the ninth-largest state, soon to be the eighth-largest state,” said Moore. “It’s a state that is doing well, that continues to grow. … Some of you represent communities where the population is going gangbusters, but others represent areas that are not seeing so much growth. Some of our challenges, as we move forward this year and enact policies, we will do all we can to make sure that the North Carolina dream of growing and moving forward is one that is enjoyed by everyone around this state.”
Kicking off the opening day proceedings, lawmakers recited the Pledge of Allegiance and Army Sgt. First Class Kevin Quinones of the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg sang the national anthem.
“North Carolina is an amazing place,” said Moore. “I appreciate your service. I appreciate your confidence in me to serve as speaker. Now, let’s go to work.”
The chamber adopted a resolution to adjourn until Jan. 25.