Raleigh, N.C. — Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, spent the past four years as then-Speaker Thom Tillis' Rules Committee chairman, the affable technician who oiled the gears of legislative progress.
In January, Moore expects to take full control of the machinery that runs the state House. The 74-member House Republican Caucus on Saturday named him the speaker-designee, all but assuring he'll assume the top job in the state House.
"Ten years ago, I never would have seen myself as speaker," Moore said during an interview Tuesday afternoon when asked if, like Tillis, he has ambitions for higher office.
Right now, he said, he is simply focused on the job at hand.
Moore was first elected in 2002 and served his first two years in office under the quixotic co-speakership arrangement when Republicans and Democrats split the state House 60-60. After that first session, Moore was in the legislative minority until the election of 2010, when Republicans took control of both the state House and the state Senate. In 2012, Republican Pat McCrory took control of the governor's mansion.
Although the two legislative chambers and the Republican governor haven't always gotten along, they have generally signed onto a set of policies far more fiscally and socially conservative than their Democratic predecessors.
"We have righted the ship and dealt with what I had considered to have been a hard left turn the state had taken in the years before the Republicans came to majority," Moore said.
Issues such as abortion, voting rights, gun laws and same-sex marriage have largely been dealt with and are now off the legislative agenda, he said.
"What I think I'm hearing from the caucus and from the folks out there is they want to see us govern," Moore said. "They want to see the state move forward, show that the changes done can be implemented in an appropriate manner. They want to know that the state can be run like a business, that we can live within our means."
Fact Check: Did 60 percent of NC's population back gay marriage ban? Moore said he will continue to push forward with legal action challenging the rulings of federal judges that struck down the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
"Whether folks support it or oppose it, a majority of voters in this state went to the polls and approved the marriage amendment," he said. "I think we owe it to the voters who did that to stand up for the law."
Moore said he also believes the independent boards created by the General Assembly to oversee certain executive branch functions, such as the coal ash commission, are constitutional, a lawsuit to the contrary filed by McCrory not withstanding.
During his interview at the WRAL News studios, Moore spoke about a number of topics, including:
Economic development: "I believe the General Assembly is going to approach this looking at specific projects. If jobs are looking to be located in this state, we're going to be supportive of it. If there are companies looking to locate in this state, and those companies need certain incentives to close the deal so that, for example, a manufacturing plant doesn't go to South Carolina or Alabama but it comes here, I believe the House and the Senate will stand ready and be there to help out."
Medicaid expansion: "When it comes to expansion, as far as just adding people to the Medicaid rolls, getting more federal money, I don't see that as good idea right now. The reason being, it may bring more money in on the short term, but long term – what about when that federal money goes away and you have many more folks relying on this system?" Moore said he believed the General Assembly will push forward with Medicaid reform and could pick up its negotiations from the point where efforts to reach a deal between the House and the Senate stalled out this summer.
"I would hope we don't just scrap everything that's happened," he said. "That would be a waste of time, waste of resources. Even though (this is) government, I hope we can do it better than that."
Teacher pay: Moore said the legislature's first run at raising teacher salaries emphasized those in the first decade of the profession. During the next General Assembly, he said, the state should look at helping teachers who are further along in their careers.
"We want to make sure the teachers who have been there for many years are fairly compensated also," he said.
On legislative sessions: Members of the General Assembly tend to be older, more likely to be white and more likely to be a lawyer or retired than the general population. Asked if he could change something such as salary to make it possible for a broader cohort of candidates to run, Moore said he believed legislators could make sessions more predictable.
"One thing we can do, I think, to make it easier, is to have more (predictability) about the schedule, knowing when folks need to be here, trying to keep the sessions limited," he said. "Anything we can do to keep legislators home as much as possible with their families, their careers, all of that, the better off we are."