Liveblogging the N.C. Senate

Barry Smith - 10:31 AM

The Senate is adjourned until noon, Wednesday, Jan. 30, in memory of Sens. Ed Jones and Don East.

Barry Smith - 10:25 AM

Lt.Gov. Forest notes that this is the 50th anniversary of the General Assembly meeting in the Legislative Building. The General Assembly first met there in 1963.

Then he goes on to use opening day as a platform to offer his vision for the state. This is one of the few times the lieutenant governor has such a platform.

Barry Smith - 10:10 AM

Sen. Louis Pate, R-Wayne, will be the deputy pro-tempore of the Senate.

The principal clerk will be Sarah Clapp.

The reading clerk will be Lee Settle.

Philip King will be sergeant-at-arms of the Senate.

Barry Smith - 9:51 AM

Now to the rules.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, says there are about 16 changes, mostly non-substantive. Emergency provisions are included, in case the Senate needs to meet somewhere else. I guess it never hurts to be prepared.

Pagers will no longer be allowed on the floor of the Senate. “We have cellphones now,” Apodaca jokes. Does anyone still have a pager?

There’ll be a 15-minute “cooling off period” after session before a lobbyist can come on the floor.

The senators are in a jovial mood. Apodaca says he’ll yield to a question from Nesbitt, “since he called me a gentleman.”

Barry Smith - 9:45 AM

Berger says, “We will reform our outdated tax code.”

He encourages more education reform. He says “hard work and determination” will make anything possible. “If we work hard, we can change our state,” Berger says.

Berger declares, “We will not waste this great opportunity.”

Barry Smith - 9:42 AM

Berger acknowledges new Gov. Pat McCrory in the chamber, and addresses the Senate.

Berger says, “Today we renew the fight for reform that started two years ago.”

While Berger says progress has been made, he declares that “our work continues.” He urges fellow senators to ask themselves how they can help families have a better life and a better education.

He addresses his GOP colleagues, saying they must show that there is a “real difference between a Washington Republican and a North Carolina Republican.” That’s a new theme, trying to separate local Republicans from national ones. For years, Democrats tried to do that.

Barry Smith - 9:34 AM

Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, adds bipartisanship to the election of Phil Berger as president pro-tem of the Senate. His election is by acclamation.

Barry Smith - 9:32 AM

Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, rises to nominate Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, as president pro-tem. Upon election. Berger will be serving his second term in the post.

Barry Smith - 9:30 AM

The senators are taking the oath office. For some, this is a formality, since a number of them have held their own ceremonies where they took the oath previously. Now it’s official for all the senators present.

Barry Smith - 9:28 AM

The organizational session is an effort to improve efficiency in the General Assembly. It allows the leadership to be in place, legislators to move into their offices and committees to be appointed before the legislature returns to work in earnest.

Barry Smith - 9:22 AM

Today’s organizational session is a departure from legislative tradition. If all goes as planned, lawmakers will be in town today only to elect their leaders and adopt their rules. Then they’ll be away for three weeks and return at the end of the month to get down to business.

The Senate is meeting now. The House will convene at noon.

Barry Smith - 9:17 AM

The Senate will precede with its ceremonial opening. A color guard from Morehead High School in Eden, which is in President Pro-tem Phil Berger’s home district in Rockingham County, is procedeing to the Senate chamber. Following the Pledge, Kathryn Atkinson of Raleigh will sing the National Anthem.

The 2013 session of the General Assembly is under way. Lt.Gov. Dan Forest is presiding.

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