After an intense election season, there was little change in Raleigh. In the Senate, the Republicans picked up a seat to increase their super majority to 34 with 16 Democrats. In the House, Democratic candidates defeated four incumbents in this year’s election. A Republican won an open seat that had been held by a Democrat. The net gain of three seats was the first time in six years that House Democrats picked up seats. Despite the gains, Republicans hold a substantial 74-46 majority.
New House GOP Leadership
With Speaker Tillis now heading to Washington, the N.C. House Republican Caucus had to elect a new for Speaker of the House. They met over the November 21st weekend to organize under new leadership. The actual election of the Speaker of the House will happen on the General Assembly’s opening day, January 14, 2015 and will reflect the election results are listed below.
Republican Nominee for Speaker of the House: Rep. Tim Moore (Cleveland Co.)
Speaker Pro Tem: Rep. Skip Stam (Wake Co.)
Majority Leader: Rep. Mike Hager (Rutherford Co.)
Deputy Majority Leader: Rep. Marilyn Avila (Wake Co.)
Majority Whip: Rep. John Bell (Wayne Co.)
Conference Chair: Rep. Charles Jeter (Mecklenburg Co.)
Joint Caucus Chair: Rep. Pat Hurley (Randolph Co.)
Freshman Leader: John Fraley (Iredell Co.)
Freshman Whip: John Bradford (Mecklenburg Co.)
Long Session 2015 and CFCR Focus
Session begins on January 14th and will last at least until July. The major issues that will be considered include public education funding and Medicaid reform. The Council for Children’s Rights will be monitoring legislation for its impact on children but will be focusing specifically on juvenile justice and Raise the Age legislation.
Only New York and North Carolina treat children as young as 16 years of age as adults in the criminal justice system, no matter the seriousness of the crime. Most states follow the federal Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act, which suggests that the juvenile court jurisdiction’s upper age limit be “any time before their 18th birthday.”
We support efforts to “raise the age” in North Carolina. Youth who spend time in the adult prison system re-offend at higher rates upon release, offend sooner, and commit more serious crimes than their counterparts in the juvenile justice system. Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds in adult prisons are at greater risk of victimization and are more likely to commit suicide. In addition, they receive little or no education, mental health treatment, or rehabilitative programming in adult prisons. Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds also acquire an adult criminal record that may significantly limit their future education and employment.
In the coming year, we will focus education and efforts on this important issue. If you’d like to be kept up-to-date on this and other juvenile justice issues and initiatives, you can sign up to receive our periodic Policy Updates that will share more information on issues that affect the children of North Carolina.