Democrats, McCrory spar over need for special session

Posted October 12, 2016

Flood water on Arrowhead Road in Harnett County on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (Photo By: Nick Stevens/WRAL)

— Senate Democrats called Wednesday on Gov. Pat McCrory to call lawmakers into a special session in response to Hurricane Matthew, but the Republican governor says there's no need of lawmakers to act yet.

"Now it's time for North Carolina's leaders to step up and release state funds for immediate assistance while we wait for federal funding so we can start the recovery process as soon as possible," Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, said.

Rep. Bill Richardson, D-Cumberland, also called for a special legislative session to address the flooding caused by the storm earlier this week.

Blue pointed to the example of Hurricane Floyd in 1999, handing out copies of legislative documents showing lawmakers passed $836.7 million in spending on recovery efforts. That bill covered things such as housing loans, relocation assistance and grants to help local governments rebuild local infrastructure such as bridges and public buildings.

But that Floyd session came three months after that hurricane struck, and McCrory has said there's no need for lawmakers to act until the floodwaters fully recede and officials can figure out the scope of destruction and what exactly is needed. McCrory's Budget Director Drew Heath repeated that sentiment Wednesday afternoon.

"There's no immediate need for funding at this point," Heath said. "I would anticipate, when the need is there, the governor will call a special session."

He said that the state has sufficient disaster management funding to get by until February, the month after lawmakers would return to Raleigh as part of their normal calendar.

Heath spoke just after Blue held a news conference, and he criticized the Democrats for politicizing the hurricane response efforts.

"What we saw there was just a shameful display of political theater," Heath said. "We have people that are still being pulled out of the water. The governor is on the scene right now. We are still very much in the midst of a disaster, and to politicize this at this point and call for a special session when they know we don't need one is really kind of shameless."

Blue said during his new conference that there was "no political angle involved."

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  • Nicolle Leney Nov 14, 2016
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    Now we know why McCrory really wanted to wait.