State legislators returned to Raleigh this week to begin the 2019 session. This year’s session, which is called the “long session,” is expected to last through the summer as members enact a two-year budget and consider hundreds of bills.
Republicans continue to hold majorities in both houses, but after the 2018 election, their majorities are no longer veto proof. They hold a 29-21 majority in the Senate and 65-55 in the House. A number of seats are held by newcomers—13 Senators and 26 Representatives.
The chief business for opening day was election of leadership. Both chambers elected many of the same leaders as the past session. The Senate reelected Senator Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) as President Pro Tem and Senator Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) as Deputy President Pro Tem. Senator Dan Blue (D-Wake) was reelected as Democratic leader. The House reelected Representative Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) as Speaker and Representative Sarah Stevens (R-Surry) as Speaker Pro Tem. Representative Darren Jackson (D-Wake) was reelected as Democratic leader.
Senior Chairs of the House Appropriations Committee will be Representatives Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), Linda Johnson (R-Cabarrus), and Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth). The Chairs of the House Finance Committee will be Representatives Julia Howard (R-Davie), Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba), and John Szoka (R-Cumberland). Representative David Lewis (R-Harnett) will remain Chairman of the House Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House.
Three Senators will continue to chair the Appropriations/Base Budget committee. They are Senators Harry Brown (R-Onslow), Kathy Harrington (R-Gaston), and Brent Jackson (R-Sampson). The Chairs of Senate Finance will be Senators Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus), and Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph). Senator Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) will chair the Rules and Operations Committee.
Members have left Raleigh and will return January 30 to begin substantive work. In the interim, leadership is expected to announce additional committee appointments.