WCU political expert expects divisive new General Assembly

A political science professor in the mountains expects the new session of the North Carolina General Assembly, which began Wednesday, to be divisive.

Chris Cooper at Western Carolina University said Republicans hold a super majority and can override Governor Roy Cooper’s vetoes. He said that will play a big role on issues like Medicaid expansion.

“So far it doesn't look like there's too much space for compromise. I think every sign we've seen thus far is that Cooper is going after the legislature on things like Medicaid expansion," WCU’s Chris Cooper told News 13. "At the same time, the legislature is going after Cooper and they're taking away his power to appoint folks.”

“The Republican legislature has wanted pretty clearly to roll back regulation,” Chris Cooper added.

"I think that things will run as they have in the past…very smooth and very well as long as we keep North Carolina on track and being a good business environment,” said Republican Representative Mike Clampitt, representing Haywood, Jackson, and Swain in District 119.

Chris Cooper also sees a battle ahead over the controversial House Bill 2 law.

“I think that will continue to be legislated,” he said. “I think you've got a governor who has made it a big point to say he wants to get rid of HB2...and you've got a legislature that said pretty clearly we don't.”

RELATED | ACC likely to move championship from NC again if HB2 remains

One Democratic mountain lawmaker said with House Bill 2, time is of the essence when the General Assembly gets to work in two weeks.

"If it drags on, then I would say that they're not going to be able to pull it together,” Representative John Ager, representing Buncombe County in District 115, said.

Chris Cooper expects an active session with issues like gun rights coming up. It’s also a budget year, and the redrawing of 28 House and Senate districts lines remains in debate and litigation.

Wednesday’s session was primarily ceremonial, swearing in lawmakers elected in November.

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