The N.C. House on Thursday passed a resolution supporting Ukraine before following the Senate’s lead and voting to adjourn its long-running session.
“This is the longest long session in the history of the state, and this is a record I hope we don’t try to break,” said N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland.
The Ukraine resolution passed unanimously, 112-0. As part of the resolution, the House is urging Congress to increase domestic energy production.
The House voted 106-5 to adjourn effective March 11 and reconvene April 6. Lawmakers will then gavel out until April 8. They will break before reconvening again May 4, then gaveling out again May 6. The official beginning of the short session is May 18, a day after the primary election, which was delayed because of the legal battle over redistricting. The Senate voted Wednesday to adjourn effective Thursday.
Moore said he and House members thought it important to take a stand on Ukraine. “Number one, to outright condemn what Russia is doing,” he said. “Number two, to make clear to the people of Ukraine that we support them.”
“I normally don’t believe in doing a lot of resolutions in areas that don’t affect us, but this affects us all,” said Rep. Robert Reives, D-Chatham. “Not just the American troops going over there, but the loss of life unnecessarily every day.”
Lawmakers talked about their support of the Ukrainian people.
Reps. Marcia Morey, D-Durham, and Joe John, D-Wake, spoke fondly about a contingent of Ukrainian lawmakers and judges who visited the legislature in October 2019. Rep. Pat Hurley, R-Randolph, talked about a small shoe shop in her community owned by a Ukrainian man.
Rep. John Ager, D-Buncombe, spoke of a “wonderful” Ukrainian community in his county. He also spoke of the work that his son, Eric, did with the Ukrainian military while he was in the U.S. Navy.
The resolution urges the federal government to decrease the country’s dependence on foreign oil by increasing domestic production. Moore said it’s OK to debate about what our future energy goals might look like and paths we might take to achieve them. But becoming energy-independent is key.
“Right now, that means fossil fuels, but it also means transitioning to other forms of energy, including green energy. It means all of the above,” he said. “Just like the energy bill this House overwhelmingly passed a few months ago. That’s what our nation should do.”
Moore called it a matter of national security. He talked about the closure of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a moratorium on oil and gas leases, and an increase of importing Russian oil by 7.7% since 2021, as opposed to the reduction of imported oil from the country by 9% from 2017-20.
“We’ve got to become independent,” Moore stated. “We have the resources to do it. It’s like we are fighting with one hand tied behind our back. We cannot allow that to stand.”
Rep. Edward Goodwin, R-Chowan, asked Moore whether lawmakers would consider a resolution or bill concerning people’s retirement funds or other investments that may be tied to Russia. Moore said the Ukraine resolution urges Congress to amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976.
“To your point, we are a global economy,” said Moore. “Part of the state’s retirement owns assets in publicly traded companies that also have a business interest in many countries around the world.”
N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell took similar action this week. Folwell said in a press release he wants Congress to amend the immunities act to provide direct recourse. That includes ways for the N.C. pension fund and other institutional investors and state pension funds to hold corrupt regimes and foreign state-owned corporations accountable for losses stemming from their deadly misdeeds.
The long session had its share of contentious moments, but it also ended with new redistricting maps and the passage of a budget, the first one Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has signed.
“The budget negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders took months because there were several rounds of offers made by both sides,” said Jordan Roberts, director of government affairs at the John Locke Foundation. “However, both sides have a lot to celebrate as this is the first budget that was signed into law by the governor since he took office.”