- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Latest on the North Carolina legislature convening Wednesday for a one-day organizational session (all times local):

2:10 p.m.

The one-day organizational session at the North Carolina General Assembly has wrapped up with the election of more chamber officers, including the successor to the longtime state House administrator.

House members chose James White to succeed Denise Weeks as principal clerk. Weeks has been principal clerk since 1993 and worked for nearly 40 years in the chamber. White has worked under Weeks since 2012.

The House on Wednesday also elected Rep. Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy to serve as speaker pro tempore, which is the chamber’s No. 2 leader. She succeeds Paul Stam of Apex, who didn’t seek re-election to the House. The deputy Senate leader will again be Louis Pate of Mount Olive. Senators re-elected Sara Lang as their principal clerk.

The legislature next reconvenes in two weeks.


12:40 p.m.

The North Carolina General Assembly will be run by the same Republican leaders who held the top chamber positions during the past two years.

The House on Wednesday elected Rep. Tim Moore of Cleveland County to a second two-year term as speaker, while the Senate leader is Phil Berger of Rockingham, is entering his fourth term at the post. Each was the nominee of their respective Republican caucus and had no announced opposition.

Berger’s family and hometown featured prominently in the Senate’s pomp and circumstance. His granddaughter sang the national anthem and his son - Court of Appeals Judge Phil Berger Jr. - swore him in to the leadership job. Moore took the speaker’s oath from Associate Justice Paul Newby.

All House and Senate members also have been sworn in. They’ll get down to legislative business when they reconvene Jan. 25.


12:10 p.m.

The North Carolina House and Senate have officially started their two-year session.

The General Assembly was expected to meet for only a few hours Wednesday for the ceremonial swearings-in of the 170 legislators elected in November, then adjourn for two weeks. The chambers also will choose their top leaders before going home.

House Speaker Tim Moore of Kings Mountain and Senate leader Phil Berger of Eden are likely to be re-elected to the posts. Legislators also will be decided on other positions, including a successor to longtime House Principal Clerk Denise Weeks. She announced her retirement last year.

The session opens amid heightened partisan strife in state government. The new governor is Democrat Roy Cooper, but GOP lawmakers hold veto-proof margins. Cooper has sued over laws the previous edition of the legislature passed last month reducing or checking Cooper’s powers


10:15 a.m.

A bipartisan advocacy group committed to getting a new method approved to draw North Carolina legislative and congressional districts say the latest legal dispute over General Assembly boundaries at the U.S. Supreme Court reinforces the need for change.

The North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying & Government Reform held a news conference at the Legislative Building before lawmakers convened the two-year session Wednesday.

The boundaries currently are drawn by House and Senate Republicans. The coalition members run from the state AFL-CIO to the conservative John Locke Foundation. It backs nonpartisan legislative staff to draw them in consultation with a citizens’ commission.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday delayed a lower court ruling ordering legislators to redraw 28 Senate and House districts and hold special elections using them this fall.

“Nonpartisan redistricting” legislation passed the House in 2011, but Republican leaders, particularly in the Senate, have been cool to the idea recently.


4 a.m.

The 170 North Carolina state lawmakers elected in November are coming to Raleigh to choose leaders and otherwise celebrate their new jobs with family and friends.

The General Assembly was scheduled to convene at midday Wednesday for a one-day session to hold traditional swearings-in and organize for the next two years.

The Republican-controlled legislature is expected to re-elect Tim Moore of Kings Mountain as House speaker and Phil Berger of Eden as Senate leader. They’ll both make speeches to lay out their agenda, which is likely to offer contrasts with new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. The General Assembly will return Jan. 25 to get down to business.

The previous edition of the legislature - elected in 2014 - had been meeting a lot recently - holding three sessions in December.

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