Cooper says special session should focus on hurricane, wildfire relief

Cooper says special session should focus on hurricane, wildfire relief

RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - Roy Cooper, the Governor-Elect of North Carolina, said Friday he thinks next week's extra session of the General Assembly should focus on getting financial help to disaster victims, not on any controversial issues that do not have consensus from both sides of the aisle.

Gov. Pat McCrory issued a proclamation Friday calling a special session for next Tuesday, Dec. 13. Along with authorizing financial assistance to victims of both Hurricane Matthew and wildfires that burned in western North Carolina, the proclamation also refers to "addressing any other matters the General Assembly elects to consider".

Speculation around the state says the "other matters" could include Republican legislative leaders trying to add two justices to North Carolina's Supreme Court. The state Constitution allows for the General Assembly to increase the number of Associate Justices to "no more than eight". Those two new justices could be appointed by McCrory, and could tip the balance of the court back to majority-Republican, following a shift resulting from Mike Morgan's defeat of current Justice Bob Edmunds' in the General Election. Cooper said Friday he thinks issues like that should wait until the next full legislative session.

"They (members of the General Assembly) need to make sure they do what they should do regarding that (assistance for storm and wildfire victims)," Cooper said. "There is just not a whole lot of time to deal with these 'other issues". Just like with House Bill 2, things can happen quickly sometimes. So, I think people are vigilant and looking at what is happening. I think the people would not want something like that to come into play when they (members of the General Assembly) have the job to provide for the people who are victims of this hurricane."

Cooper campaigned across North Carolina telling supporters he wanted to repeal House Bill 2, the controversial law passed earlier this year by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed by McCrory. The law repealed an ordinance passed by Charlotte City Council, and mandates transgender individuals must use restrooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate while in government buildings and schools. Cooper's inauguration is set for Jan. 7, 2017, but it is likely any repeal of HB2 will not happen immediately.

"I think something will happen on this sooner rather than later," Cooper said during an interview Friday. "No, it won't be immediately. Maybe it won't be, maybe it will be. I can say 'I am opposed to it. I think it is wrong'. I can issue executive orders regarding state employment and anti-discrimination efforts. I can tell these businesses, 'North Carolina has sent you a signal. They want to go a different way. They want to be inclusive. This legislation is not reflective of who we are'. But also I think it is going to be important for businesses and a lot of people looking at North Carolina that we do something more than that legislatively, changing the law. I'm going to work to try to bring that about."

Cooper might find it difficult once he takes office, dealing with Republicans that have a veto-proof majority in both chambers of the General Assembly. Cooper believes his experience as a legislator will help.
"I think people are tired of partisan politics and campaigns," Cooper said. " I think they are hungry for people who will roll up their sleeves, and try to find areas of agreement. They will have a governor who will say to Republican leadership 'Okay, I know this was a hard-fought campaign, but there are ways that we can agree to make sure we have a strong infrastructure bond, because we need to improve our transportation, and our ports and our broadband access.'

"I think they will tell us they want better paying jobs for the people, and I think we can find ways we can work together on that. I believe a lot of Republicans want to support public education and want higher educator salaries. So, there are ways where we can work together. Now there are also issues we will disagree on, and when it's time to fight, we will fight."

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