Sen. Phil Berger, an Eden attorney who represents Guilford and Rockingham counties, was nominated on Thursday by unanimous voice vote to stand for the Senate's top leadership post when the General Assembly convenes on Jan. 29, according to a report today in the News & Observer of Raleigh. Sen. Harry Brown of Jacksonville was also unanimously selected to be majority leader — the post held by Buncombe County's Sen. Martin Nesbitt under this year's Democratic majority in the Senate. Republicans achieved a 31-19 Senate majority in the November general election. With a companion 68-52 majority in the House, the N.C. General Assembly will be under the control of a Republican majority for the first time since 1898. House Republicans meet tomorrow to select their majority leader.
An outline of Berger's goals for the upcoming session include:
1. No tax increases in the state budget, including allowing the temporary sales and income tax surcharges to expire as scheduled.
2. No delay in the state's election schedule due to the redrawing of legislative and congressional districts.
3. Establishment of election changes to require photo identification of voters, and the change the State Board of Elections membership from three Democrats and two Republicans to an even three and three.
4. Educational changes to increase the number of charter schools, and to allow differential pay and merit pay for the state's teachers.
5. A move to exempt North Carolina from the national health care law's requirement that would make uninsured residents purchase health insurance, while acknowledging that such a law would be subject to the results of lawsuits testing the constitutionality of the national health care law.
— Nelda Holder, freelance for Xpress
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