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State Update: What's up in Raleigh?

The 2023 legislative year has begun in Raleigh, with the state legislature’s leadership setting a number of priorities for the session — as well as at least one onerous rule.

On the legislation front, new abortion restrictions will likely be on the table, following the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Redistricting also will raise its gnarly head once again, with cynical Republicans hoping their new 5-2 GOP majority on the NC Supreme Court will acquiesce to their plans to re-gerrymander the state. Their efforts will spread uncertainty and dread as state and local politicians begin their campaigns for races in 2024.

There may be bipartisan support to give public employees, including teachers, a pay raise in 2023. Leaders of both parties agree North Carolina has fallen behind in the race to keep up with cost of living, and surpluses in revenue could be sufficient to provide much-needed raises for state workers.

Other leftovers from 2022 include expanding Medicaid, extending health insurance coverage to more than 500,000 North Carolinians. Both houses of the legislature approved bills in the last session but failed to negotiate their differences. Also on the health front is a proposal to legalize medical marijuana. Sponsored by Brunswick County Senator Bill Rabon, the bill made it through the Senate last year but failed to win House approval. Similar legislation is due for consideration this year.

The North Carolina Senate now is divided into 30 Republicans to 20 Democrats. The NC House consists of 71 Republicans and 49 Democrats. It takes 3/5’s of members in the House to override a governor’s veto. The NC House is now one vote shy of being able to override a veto by the governor.

Governor Cooper now holds the record in NC for vetoes. Thanks to a rule change pushed through the House by the GOP, bills can come up for vote without notice. Since members serve part-time, they aren’t always present when a vote is taken, making it easier for gubernatorial vetoes to be overridden.

Special thanks to Nancy Briganti for contributing to this article.


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