North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

January 22, 2021

Pardon Our Dust

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Members of the North Carolina General Assembly will return to Raleigh next week after their two-week break to officially begin this year’s legislative long session. As lawmakers gear up to jump back into work, North Carolina continues to grapple with a record number of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations while also managing the distribution of the vaccine to all 100 counties throughout the state. Ensuring the state has enough vaccine doses and locations to serve all North Carolinians will certainly be top priorities for legislators this session, but COVID-19 recovery will not be the only thing on their agenda. Our team provides an overview of what is ahead for lawmakers in 2021 North Carolina Legislative Session Preview.

As of Thursday morning, in the state of North Carolina, there were 698,099 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 8,240,694 completed tests, 8,339 deaths, and 3,666 current hospitalizations. As we all continue to feel the effects of the global pandemic and adjust to a new normal, we want to highlight a few ways our clients across North Carolina have worked to support residents and make this time a little easier for those throughout the state. Read more about what our clients are doing to help by clicking here.

For more information on COVID-19 in North Carolina, click here to visit the Department of Health and Human Services website, and be sure to stay up to date on the latest federal guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by clicking here.

Session Schedule

Last Wednesday, lawmakers were sworn in and committee chairs were given their gavels during the first, largely ceremonial, session of the year. It will likely be a slow start to the legislative session this year as lawmakers try to balance their workload with safety protocols that need to be followed due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Over the course of the last few months of interim committee meetings, visitors at the legislative building have been scarce, and often discouraged, while most committee meetings have been held virtually. The first few weeks of session, at the very least, are likely to look the same.

While their first meeting was in large part ceremonial, House and Senate leadership did lay out some of the key dates to keep in mind for the 2021 legislative session schedule. According to HR1: House Temporary Rules, in the House, the following deadlines will apply:

  • March 25 – local bill filing deadline
  • April 20 – bill filing deadline for all bills that do not include finance or appropriations related provisions
  • April 27 – bill filing deadline for all bills that do include finance or appropriations related provisions

In the Senate, according to SR1: Senate Permanent Rules – 2021, the following deadlines will apply:

  • March 11 – local bill filing deadline
  • April 6 – bill filing deadline for all bills that do not involve appointments, constitutional amendments, or election laws

The crossover deadline will be Thursday, May 13 this year. This is the date by which all bills must have passed either the House or the Senate chamber in order to be eligible for consideration throughout the remainder of the 2021-2022 legislative session. Only bills with provisions related to finance or appropriations, constitutional amendments, appointments, or elections laws are exempt from the crossover deadline. 

Agency Leadership

The start of Governor Roy Cooper’s second term came with a shakeup of state agency leadership. Three members of the governor’s first term administration announced in early December that they would be stepping down from their current roles – Susi Hamilton as Secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Larry Hall as Secretary of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and Tony Copeland as Secretary of the Department of Commerce. 

Since the announcement, the Governor has announced the appointment of Chief Deputy Secretary D. Reid Wilson to Secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and retired Lieutenant General Walter Gaskin as Secretary of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. 

Wilson began his career as the national political director of the Sierra Club from 1989 to 1993 and obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Biology from Grinnell College in Iowa. Wilson served eight years in the Clinton administration at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where he eventually became the Chief of Staff to Administrator Carol Browner. After serving in the former president’s administration, Wilson remained in DC where he began his role as senior vice president with M & R Strategic Services, a public affairs consulting group. From 2003 to 2017, prior to serving as chief deputy, Wilson worked as the executive director of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC). To read the Governor’s full announcement, click here

Gaskin graduated from Savannah State University and obtained his Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma before completing his Senior Executive Seminar at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University. The Lieutenant General served with 3rd Force Service Support Group, 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa, Japan, Combined Forces Command C/J-3 in Seoul, South Korea, and as the Commanding General of the 2d Marine Division at Camp Lejeune here in North Carolina. During his time at Camp Lejeune, Gaskin led II MEF as the Commanding General of Multinational Forces-West through its yearlong deployment to Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Prior to his retirement from the United States marine Crops in 2013, Gaskin served as the Deputy Chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium. Most recently, since September of last year, Lieutenant General Gaskin served as a member on the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission. To read the Governor’s full announcement, click here

Sec. Copeland will continue to serve in his role through the end of the month. The Governor has not yet made an announcement on who will take over after Copeland’s departure. In addition to Sec. Copeland, Governor Cooper is looking to permanently fill the Sectary role at the Department of Information Technology, where Thomas Parrish has been serving as Acting Secretary since August, and the Department of Environmental Quality after Secretary Michael Regan was appointed by President Biden to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Tuesday, January 26

1:00PM: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance

Wednesday, January 27

12:00PM House: Session Convenes

12:00PM Senate: Session Convenes