Raleigh Report: The 2023 Session Kicks Off

While the North Carolina General Assembly officially kicked off its 2023 session with lots of pomp and circumstance earlier this month, January 25th marked the first real working day of the new legislative session. 

Beginning on that day and every week thereafter — with just a few exceptions — legislators will arrive in Raleigh on Monday evening and depart on Thursday until they have had enough voting, speech-making, and deal-making and finally shut the session down. Along the way, they are expected to approve a two-year $30 billion budget and take up a host of high-profile issues, including abortion, sports gambling, medical marijuana, redistricting, and that old favorite, Medicaid expansion, among hundreds of other bills. 

North Carolina does not limit the session length, so no one knows how long lawmakers will be plugging away. However long the session takes, MountainTrue will be there every step of the way, speaking up for Western North Carolina and the people who live here. Indeed, MountainTrue is the only WNC-based environmental organization with a year-round presence in Raleigh. 

Our work will be more challenging this year after WNC lost several important legislators. Former state Senator Chuck Edwards from Henderson County, of course, is now in the US Congress. We will miss him in Raleigh, where he was the chairman of a key natural resources appropriations committee, but we will be glad to continue working with him in his new role. Also gone is Senator Deanna Ballard, who lost her seat representing the High Country in a primary to fellow Republican Sen. Ralph Hise. The good news is that Hise remains a chairman of the powerful Senate appropriations committee. The WNC delegation also picked up some muscle in the House, where Rep. Karl Gillespie, who represents Cherokee, Clay, Graham, and Macon counties, was appointed co-chair of a House natural resources budget committee. 

This year as in past years, MountainTrue spent the political offseason preparing our list of legislative priorities for the new year. They include new investments in clean water, public access to rivers and streams, and policy changes that will protect the water we drink and the air we breathe. You can review MountainTrue’s key legislative priorities here.

We’ll keep you updated as the session progresses and our team works to advance funding and policies that benefit clean waters, resilient forests, and healthy communities in WNC!