Minutes after the Senate passed a "clean" version of the Disaster Recovery Act of 2016—meaning there was nothing nefarious in it—Senate leader Phil Berger announced that Speaker Tim Moore, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, and 60 percent of the members were calling another special session, to convene at 2 p.m. today, with a filing deadline of 5 p.m. for new bills. The House's rules
set a filing deadline of 7 pm for new bills.
This will be the fourth special session of the year, after the one we just had, the March one that resulted in HB 2, and the required one in February to redraw the racially gerrymandered Congressional districts.
The Disaster Recovery Act, meanwhile, was passed by the House and will head to the governor for final approval.
Speaker Tim Moore told reporters that the first time there was any discussion of a special session was earlier today. This is blatantly false, Rep. Darren Jackson and ABC 11's Jon Camp point out:
Here's the full list of signatories from the House:
In the Senate, the only Republicans who didn't sign the petition for the fourth special session are Fletcher Hartsell, Louis Pate, and Andy Wells. Senator John Alexander isn't even here today, and he signed it. Here's the list of signatories there.
Here's Senate Republican leader Phil Berger explaining to reporters (h/t Mark Binker) why they're calling a special session. He says there's a "number of things that have been talked about," but he's "not in a position to list or articulate" what those 'things' will be. He also says the session will most likely go beyond today, since the filing deadline is at 5.
"Seriously! This is beyond crazy and an abuse of power," Senator Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, told the INDY
immediately following the vote.
Rumors are swirling around the General Assembly that the Republicans will go for legislative approval of cabinet appointees. Democratic Senate leader Dan Blue confirmed he'd heard the same rumor.
"We're as stunned as anybody. I don't know what's going on," Blue told the INDY
. "I asked my colleagues in the Republican caucus as well as the Republican leadership, and none of them felt any necessity to let us know. And I still don't know...I'm informed they're trying to strap the governor a bit, so that he'll be handcuff as to who he chooses for his cabinet and other gubernatorial-level appointments. But I don't know. I haven't seen anything."
"When I talked to my colleagues this morning, I was lead to believe that when we did this bill on Hurricane Matthew relief, that'd be it," he said. "I was asking members and leadership up until the point that Senator Berger made the announcement on the floor."