Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper will give his first State of the State address at 7 p.m. Monday at the state Legislative Building.
No other matters are on the legislative agenda Monday. WRAL News will carry the speech live on television and online.
Since the Democrat won election in November, he and Republican lawmakers have clashed over a number of issues, from education funding to who makes appointments to various offices. After snow derailed inauguration festivities in January, Monday is Cooper's first chance to speak at an occasion of state, and he could use the opportunity either to further challenge his legislative audience or to attempt to win over skeptical lawmakers.
Here are five things to watch for as the governor takes the podium:
How hard will he push for HB2 repeal?
Cooper campaigned vigorously on repealing House Bill 2, the controversial measure dealing with LGBT rights and the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals. He has been involved in two recent attempts to repeal the nearly year-old law, but those efforts have fallen short and devolved into finger-pointing. Meanwhile, there is mounting evidence that the state is losing the chance to land some big economic development fish.
This speech will give Cooper the chance to urge lawmakers to take another stab at rolling back the law. Will he blame them for past failures or lay out what he sees as the path forward on the matter?
Will he find common ground on the budget or throw down the gauntlet?
Much of Cooper's focus has been on education spending, although lawmakers have their own ideas on that front. In reality, both lawmakers and the governor have similar ideas – both say they want to raise salaries for teachers and other educators.
Will Cooper highlight where he and lawmakers differ or play up their common ground?
Does he bring up the fight over separation of powers?
Lawyers for Cooper and the General Assembly squared off in court last week as the governor resisted a new law stripping him of some powers and requiring his cabinet appointments to face confirmation.
The two sides have fundamental differences of opinion about what the constitution calls for. Will he bring up this fight or let the ongoing court battle lie?
Can he plot a new agenda for state government?
House Bill 2, education spending and the separation of powers fight have dominated the first two months of Cooper's term.
Monday is an opportunity for him to sketch out a new agenda on economic development or other goals he would like to pursue. Former Gov. Pat McCrory used his first State of the State address to call on lawmakers to help him streamline the government and rekindle job recruitment efforts.
Can Cooper set more items on the public agenda? If so, will he lay out an agenda that Republicans can embrace or be laying out his aspirations for a home audience?
How will Republicans respond?
Legislative Republicans have not only challenged Cooper over the law but they have aired hard critiques of his appointments and other actions publicly.
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger will give the official Republican response to Cooper's speech, and reaction is sure to come from other GOP lawmakers as well as the state party.
Will they hear Cooper out in spirit or immediately attack his proposal with adjectives like "failed," "dishonest" and "bloated?"