State Legislators To Convene For Fourth Special Session, Details Unclear

Dec 14, 2016

State lawmakers will convene for yet another special session on December 14, 2016.
Credit Dave DeWitt / WUNC

State lawmakers will convene for yet another special session Wednesday afternoon. The fourth extra legislative gathering of 2016 follows a two-day effort to pass the Disaster Relief Act, a $201 million dollar funding bill to help victims of hurricane flooding and mountain wildfires.

The legislation was not controversial and passed unanimously in both houses. The measure is designed to get more displaced residents into housing, give local governments help building infrastructure and provide the state forest service money for firefighting expenses.

After the Senate voted 49-0 for the relief measure, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) came into the Senate to speak with Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). The Republican leaders then announced that another special session would convene in the afternoon.

Neither Berger nor Moore would tell reporters the details of what agenda items are likely to come forward during the special session. This new session is open to any legislation that members of the General Assembly would like to consider.

In recent weeks speculation has been mounting that lawmakers would seek to pack the state Supreme Court, or strip Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper of some power, before he takes office in January. Lawmakers have also indicated they could take up a regulatory reform measure, dealing with environmental issues.

“There are a number of things that have been talked about,” Berger told reporters Wednesday. “I am not in a position at this point to list or specifically articulate what they are because no decisions have been made, finally as to what exactly will be brought up.”

Speaker Moore indicated that, as of now, lawmakers are considering two bills, and that this session would conclude Thursday or Friday.​ He said the new session has an open-ended agenda.

"Any ideas of importance to the majority of the members of this body are entitled to be considered," Moore said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.