Thursday, January 19, 2023

Everything Happens for a Reason: NC House Committee Appointments


The Associated Press broke the story of Tim Moore's appointments for NC House committee leadership posts in the 2022 long session of the General Assembly. The Associated Press published certain highlights; but the full committee roster for standing and special committees is here. among which is this not very surprising appointment of a Democrat as vice chair of the Commerce Committee -- Rep. Garland Pierce (profiled here a few days ago as a possible Democratic weak link for overturning the veto of an abortion bill). He got a plum committee leadership post, and was only one of several Democrats who got that kind of recognition, some of them at least also suspected of being potential allies for Tim Moore in his quest to overturn every Cooper veto. 

US News made the same point in their coverage of Moore's committee appointments: duh. Awarding gavels to more than one member of the opposing party is an obvious, time-tested means of asserting influence, though we don't know fer shure that any of the additional appointments outlined below will get Moore the one Democratic vote he needs to rout the governor on a variety of veto overrides.

Rep. Shelly Willingham
of Edgecombe County is now one of three chairmen leading the alcoholic beverage control committee. Watauga County's Ray Pickett is a member. Willingham won his seat in the House 2016; Republicans didn't run a candidate against him in 2016; and he's gotten 58-60% of the vote in his other reelections. Represents a safe district.

WRAL reported

Willingham told WRAL News Tuesday that he wasn't asked to commit to anything in exchange for the chairmanship, and he noted that he has more than 20 years experience with the state's alcoholic beverages regulations, including two terms as a vice-chair of this committee.

"Speaker didn’t ask me to make any commitment to do anything and I haven’t committed to anything," Willingham said.

"[My vote] depends on what the bill is," he said. "I’m going to support any bill that will support my district and also the state. … Doesn’t matter who puts that bill forward.”

Democratic Rep. Michael Wray of Northampton County was elevated to one of four senior chairmen of the powerful House Finance Committee.


Sara Pequeno:

Wray is another 10-term state representative who represents Halifax, Northampton and Warren Counties. He had an excused absence the day of the first vote on the 2019 bill [Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act], and he voted to uphold Cooper’s veto when it went to the House floor. On the other hand, he voted for the Human Life Nondiscrimination Act [2021], which would have banned abortions based on gender, sex and disability. He has voted with the Democrats on other abortion bills aside from the 2021 legislation.

Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County will be one of three chairs of the K-12 education committee, joining two Republicans. Cotham served in the House for nearly 10 years through 2016 before returning as a candidate last year, and she's an established authority on state education policy. Cotham is never mentioned as a potential vote for a veto override.

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