- N.C. House and Senate pleased overall with the results of the General Election.
- Medicaid expansion will not be discussed until January when the new long session begins.
- Some of the redistricting maps will be redrawn.
“Today is indeed a great day for North Carolina,” N.C. Speaker of the House Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said Wednesday about yesterday’s General Election.
In a joint press conference at the Legislative Building in Raleigh, he spoke to reporters with Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. “If you look around the nation, North Carolina was indeed a bright spot in so many ways.”
Both spoke about the importance of flipping the state Supreme Court with the wins of Republicans Trey Allen and Richard Dietz.
“I think the fact that we saw judicial candidates statewide running ahead of our Senate candidate and running ahead in many instances of other Republican candidates shows that that vote was a complete repudiation of the Anita Earls lead leftward tilt of the state Supreme Court,” said Berger. “It was something that should be clearly read by the public and should be clearly read by others that it is not what people in the state of North Carolina want to see in terms of their Supreme Court.”
Moore said he was thrilled it would give Republicans the majority with five to two Democrats on the bench for the next six to eight years.
“That’s good not just for Republicans, that’s good for everybody that wants tough laws when it comes to sex offenders,” he said. “To ensure that the rights of the people are upheld. That the constitution is respected, and importantly, that the balance of power between the executive branch and the legislative branch is kept in the proper place.”
He said that despite missing a supermajority by getting 71 seats in the House instead of 72 and being unable to override a veto by Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper, for all intents and purposes, the House has a governing supermajority.
“We have a handful of Democrats who work with us,” Moore said. “We have some new members coming in, and I feel completely confident that should we need to override vetoes, we’ll be able to do our part in the House as well.”
“I am extremely pleased that we have moved back into a situation where we’ve got 30 members,” Berger said of the supermajority that the Senate gained. “I think one of the things that’s important to remember is that Republicans both in the House and the Senate have now won elections in districts drawn by Democrats, in districts drawn by Democratic judges, in districts drawn by Republicans and Democrats jointly where districts were approved by the legislature. The idea that some sort of legislative gerrymander is the reason that Republicans have majorities in the legislature is, as it has always been, a fallacy.”
Moore was encouraged that parts of the state, especially in some rural areas, elected their first Republican members in the state’s history and noted the Triad performed strongly. He also noted that four Republican seats ceased to exist due to double-bunking, which added to the fact that the House needed to pick up four seats that they now didn’t have.
Both leaders agreed they want to take up issues discussed before, including Medicaid expansion, passed by the Senate earlier this year and was originally on the agenda in the House for December. But it won’t happen before the new long session begins in January. Both felt it was important to have conversations with their new incoming members to see their priorities.
“The Senate passed the (Medicaid) bill 44 to 2,” Berger said. “I continue to support it. I don’t disagree that waiting for next year is the right thing to do and I know that it’s something that will be on the list of things that we’ll be discussing next year. I continue to support expansion in the context of some of the other market reforms that were in the Senate bill.”
Moore said the House would like a more comprehensive discussion, but not until next year.
Berger said parents have made it clear that they are unhappy with some of the things going on in public schools. He feels confident there will be support for a parental bill of rights as many members who supported the bill passed in the Senate will be returning for the long session.
He mentioned that his stance on abortion has not changed, and the Senate has not had a conversation with its members, particularly new members, so no decision has been made.
Regarding tax cuts, Berger said he believes the state’s tax rates are too high.
“I’m comfortable at this point with the step down we’ve got with the corporate rate, but I think the individual rate could stand a little trimming, even beyond what we currently have on the books, because as long as we continue to see revenue outpacing the budget in ways that we’ve seen, that means clearly that we’re taxing too much and I think it’s something that will be a personal priority of mine to continue to move our rates down.”
Moore said the state is in good financial shape with the regulatory reform, tax reductions, and investments the legislature has made. Noting that the state was ranked number one for business in the country, with large companies announcing they are bringing several jobs to the state, Moore said he is open to cutting taxes. He also said some things must be watched.
“This very ridiculous decision the Supreme Court made on the Leandro case to transfer all this money out of the treasury and to think that they can appropriate that,” he said. “I think we’re unified in the message that that’s not something that the General Assembly supports at all and something that we’re going to revisit.”
Moore said they would continue to look at where they are legally with the Leandro decision.
Berger said no decisions have been made regarding redrawing legislative redistricting maps. Still, they plan to move away from the judicial gerrymander that resulted in Tuesday’s results for the congressional maps.
“We do have the case before the U.S. Supreme Court on December 7th that I think you have the possibility to really reset and right-size the role of the courts and the role of the general assemblies around the nation,” Moore said. “You look at the constitution and the clause about the authority of the legislature to undertake redistricting. We’re in really some unchartered territory”
He said the people of the state had been subjected to judicial activism, and he is glad “the state nightmare is finally over” with the results of last night’s election in terms of the Supreme Court.
Moore added that even though the maps gave a 7-7 result for the congressional maps and effectively put them in a governing supermajority, they weren’t the people’s will.
“Those maps were clearly Democrat-gerrymandered,” he said. “You can look at them and see that. If you look at the principles that Democrats have argued when it’s come to what’s gerrymandered, they violated every single one of those, by the way they split counties, split cities, drew districts that made no sense, and so this notion of it being 7-7, that’s not that doesn’t reflect the breakdown of the voters.”
Voter ID could also be on the legislative agenda, with Moore and Berger pointing out that N.C. voters passed it as a Constitutional Amendment in 2018. The matter will most likely be handled through the legislature and the courts.
Both men said they would likely keep their current leadership positions in both chambers.