Dome: Rep. Hamilton wants coastal voice in House Democratic caucus

FROM STAFF REPORTSDecember 9, 2012 

State Rep. Susi Hamilton of New Hanover wants to make sure a Democrat from the coast, either her or someone else, ends up in a leadership role in the House Democratic Caucus so that perspective will be represented in the party’s decision making, she said.

House Democrats last week unanimously chose Rep. Larry Hall of Durham as minority leader, but other leadership positions will be decided at future meetings.

Hamilton said Friday someone from the coast should end up being one of the party’s minority whips so issues like ballooning homeowner’s insurance rates and limited insurance options are brought to the front.

Hamilton is the only coastal Democrat returning to the diminished caucus, which she said is part of the reason for her interest in taking on a leadership role.

“The truth of the matter is, we don’t know what the role of the whips will be just yet, but we need to make these coastal issues a top priority,” Hamilton said.

Ellmers joins third committee

Rep. Renee Ellmers has been appointed to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, and has learned what her areas of focus will be.

Ellmers, a Republican representing the 2nd District, will sit on three subcommittees: Health, Communications and Technology, and Oversight and Investigations.

The committee is led by Rep. Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, and had 54 members during the session of Congress now in its final weeks. Founded in 1795, Energy and Commerce is the oldest standing legislative committee in the U.S. House.

“I am honored by the faith (Upton) has shown in my ability to serve,” Ellmers said in a release. “This is an important opportunity for the 2nd District and North Carolina as we look ahead to the issues we will be working on next year.”

She said an array of policies affecting daily lives of North Carolinians will be considered over the next year, from driving cars to internet use to going to the doctor.

Congressmen appeal to Boehner

Meanwhile, four conservative Republican congressmen are trying to get their plum committee assignments back.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that Reps. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Justin Amash of Michigan, and David Schweikert of Arizona made the request in a letter sent Friday to Speaker John Boehner. They said they wanted a written explanation by the close of business Monday.

Those three lawmakers, along with Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, lost their assignments last week after they bucked party leaders on key votes. Jones’ name isn’t on the letter.

State house explores working remotely

House Speaker Thom Tillis wants to allow legislators to participate in committee meetings that are held when the General Assembly is not in session without being present. Plans are being worked up to allow members to join meetings, and even cast votes, from secure remote sites, he said last week.

That will require a change in the rules, which Tillis said he wants to see adopted as soon as possible, sometime after the session begins in January. He said it would be beneficial for some oversight committee meetings that are held when the legislature is not in session.

A spokesman for Tillis said later that details are still being worked out, but that virtual interim and oversight committee meetings wouldn’t be held until after the upcoming long session concludes.

Tillis, a Mecklenburg County Republican, made the remarks at an orientation session of incoming members of the state House of Representatives on Wednesday. He attended the session for 41 new House members, all but a handful of whom were present. After introducing himself, he stuck around for much of the morning session to impart advice to the freshmen representatives, supplementing House Clerk Denise Weeks’ presentation about how a bill becomes a law, and some of the more arcane rules of the House.

There will be 29 new Republicans and 12 Democrats when the session begins Jan. 30. Newly minted state senators also met across the hall in the Senate chambers for their orientation session. There are 14 new senators.

Staff writers

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