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By Amy Hobbs

The North Carolina General Assembly officially kicked off the 2013 long session on January 9th with the largest freshman class in recent memory. The session was organizational, highlighted by swearing in ceremonies, committee assignments and new members becoming acclimated to life in the legislative building. House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) and Senate President Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) were re-elected by acclimation as leaders of their respective chambers. The 2013 session is historic because it is the first time since 1869 that Republicans have controlled the state House, Senate and Governor’s mansion. The legislature will get down to work when they return on January 30th.

Governor Pat McCrory was also sworn in this month with a whirlwind week of festivities and announcements. The Governor has announced all of his cabinet positions and most of his key staff:

Thomas Stith, Chief of Staff
Art Pope, Deputy Budget Director
Fred Steen, Legislative Director

John Skvarla, Secretary of DENR
Aldona Wos, HHS
Bill Daughtridge, Administration
Tony Tata, DOT
Susan Kluttz, Cultural Resources
Sharon Decker, Commerce
Kieran Shanahan, JPS
Lyons Gray, Revenue

Governor McCrory and legislative leaders seem to be on the same page for now on the major issues that will be on the agenda this year. Tax reform, Unemployment Insurance Reform, Voter ID and more regulatory reform are among the top policy initiatives to be addressed this session. Speaker Tillis has also promised another bill from the Republican platform, a constitutional amendment guaranteeing NC bans unions and remains a right-to-work state.

Amy Hobbs is a strategic consultant with expertise in policy analysis, public policy, state politics, and grassroots lobbying. She also served as Senior Policy Advisor to NC House Speaker Thom Tillis.