Local News

Shared Power In State House May Not Happen

Posted December 14, 2004

— It looks as if a fourth term as state House speaker is on tap for Jim Black. Black's Democratic colleagues voted today to keep him at the helm of the state House for another session.

But, the fate of his Republican counterpart is still up in the air.

Black said there was no discussion of his power-sharing arrangement with Richard Morgan, but vowed to continue a coalition in one form or another.

"Anyone who wants to work with me and Rep. Joe Hackney and those of us who will be in leadership, the doors are open," Black said.

For Morgan and other Republicans, that could mean key committee chairmanships. Some Democrats say that's more likely than a speaker's role for Morgan.

"Both speaker Black and speaker Morgan did a great job, but at this point in the November election, we won a 63-57 majority," said Paul Leubke, D-Durham. "That's a clear majority and so we'll have a single speaker."

For Morgan, the decision is not so cut and dry.

"It's worked wonderfully well and just because the numbers change by one vote, doesn't necessarily mean you discount what has worked," Morgan said.

Co-speakers or not, both Black and Morgan agree the parties will need to work together to handle a $1 billion budget shortfall. It's now officially in the hands of Jim Black to determine the best way to get that done.

Morgan and Black say they'll continue discussions over the coming weeks. The full House will vote on leadership roles when the session starts on Jan. 26.

House Republicans on Monday elected state Rep. Joe Kiser of Lincoln County to be minority leader. They also chose Representative Mitch Gillespie of McDowell County as minority whip.

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