Raleigh, N.C. — This time, the chair won't be empty.
Four the fourth time this year, state senators are scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing for Secretary Larry Hall, Gov. Roy Cooper's pick to head the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. On three previous occasions Hall was a no-show due to an ongoing battle over whether the General Assembly has the right to sign off on cabinet appointees. Hall told WRAL News Wednesday night he was planning on attending Thursday.
"I will attend the 11 a.m. confirmation as allowed by the court's order today," Hall texted Wednesday night.
A spokeswoman for Berger said senators expected Hall to appear. Cooper's office confirmed the court had declined to block the hearing, while noting that a trial to decide whether the new confirmation law is constitutional is set to begin next week.
"Since the Court has yet to decide this matter, Secretary Hall will honor the subpoena and attend the hearing, but we will reserve our right to contest any vote that is taken," Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said. "We look forward to the hearing next week because we believe this process is unconstitutional and we need to get on with making decisions about investments in education and repealing HB2."
Wednesday Wrap: Bloody Mary with your budget? Opioids: Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, and legislative Republicans are hosting a joint news conference Thursday morning to roll out a plan to combat opioid addiction. The bill in question will change prescribing and dispensing practices and provide funding for treatment.
WRAL News plans to carry this news conference live online at 9 a.m.
Budget: Members of Cooper's staff will present the Democrat's budget plan at 8:30 a.m. to House and Senate budget writers, who have already panned the proposal as spending too much.
House: The state House is scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. and sign off on bills increasing penalties for boating while drunk and vandalizing fire and EMS equipment.
Senate: Although the Senate will come into session at 9:30 a.m., the chamber won't hold votes, if any, until later in the day.
Bill filings: Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, filed a bill Wednesday to allow restaurants to serve alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays if allowed by a vote of their local government.
Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, filed Senate Bill 158, which would require message therapists to prove they are proficient English speakers before getting a license. Cook told WRAL News Wednesday he filed the measure at the request of the North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy.