The Latest: HB2, Medicaid, teacher pay on Democrats’ list


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the North Carolina General Assembly returning to work for this year’s session (all times local):

4 p.m.

Democrats in the General Assembly remain the minority party but are more optimistic their agenda this year can pass now that fellow Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper is in office.

House and Senate Democrats rolled out their priorities in a news conference Wednesday as lawmakers began their session in earnest.

On their list is the repeal of the law limiting LGBT rights and directing which bathrooms transgender people can use, known as House Bill 2. They also want significant teacher pay raises, tax relief for small businesses and working families, expansion of Medicaid to more of the working poor and additional relief funds following Hurricane Matthew.

Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue and new House Minority Leader Darren Jackson say they believe enough votes are already in place for a repeal of HB2. Republican Senate leader Phil Berger said earlier Wednesday some compromise is needed before the law can be addressed.

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1:20 p.m.

The North Carolina General Assembly is back in Raleigh after a two-week break to begin this year’s work period in earnest.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest — the Senate’s presiding officer — convened their respective floor sessions shortly after noon Wednesday. There were no recorded votes and the House’s chief business was to hand out gavels to representatives leading committees for the next two years.

Lawmakers also began filing bills Wednesday, but the first of them won’t be debated until at least next week.

Republicans who control the legislature have a new government partner in Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Cooper wrote a blog post before Wednesday’s session repeating his interest in repealing a law limiting LGBT rights, expanding Medicaid coverage and raising teacher salaries to the national average.

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4:40 a.m.

North Carolina legislators are returning to Raleigh after two weeks away to begin making laws.

The General Assembly is reconvening at midday Wednesday. The 170 House and Senate members officially began the two-year session Jan. 11 by electing Republican House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, then went on a hiatus mandated by state law.

Little action was expected Wednesday beyond bill filings and a news conference where Democrats will set their goals. Lawmakers will leave for the weekend Thursday. Next week they’re expected to begin their usual schedule. Passing a budget and addressing House Bill 2 could be among this year’s top topics.

Lawmakers aim to adjourn in the early summer. The date could depend on relations with each other and new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

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