Politics & Government

NC legislative leaders want special session on disaster aid sooner than Cooper suggested

Legislative leaders want the General Assembly to return to work next week to vote on Hurricane Florence relief money and policies.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said in a news release Thursday that he wanted the legislature to return on Oct. 9 to handle Hurricane Florence relief. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, both Republicans, told him in a letter they released Friday that the special session should be called for Friday, Sept. 28. They are prepared to make “an immediate down payment on Hurricane Florence relief funds,” Berger and Moore wrote.

In their letter, the legislators said the state needs to prepare for the federal disaster aid expected to flow into the state.

“Members of the Congressional delegation have indicated to us the earliest possible date for a relief package is next week,” Berger and Moore wrote. “Proactively clearing potential legal and fiscal hurdles in preparation for a relief package will signal to our Congressional partners that North Carolina is ready to immediately begin aid disbursal.”

Hurricane Florence has claimed 31 lives in North Carolina, by the state’s count. Nearly 5,000 people were rescued by first responders, Cooper’s office said in a news release.

Travel is disrupted by hundreds of roads and bridges flooded or damaged. Parts of Interstate 40 and Interstate 95 are still flooded, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Cooper on Friday wrote to President Donald Trump asking that he authorize FEMA to pay for 100 percent of the state’s costs for the initial disaster response. Typically, FEMA pays 75 percent and the state 25 percent, Cooper’s office said in a news release.

Republican legislators said in their letter that they want to quickly address teachers’ worries that they won’t be paid while their schools are closed.

“We should act immediately to allay such concerns and provide financial certainty to teachers, many of whom are likely burdened with expensive home repairs,” they wrote.

Bonner: 919-829-4821; @Lynn_Bonner
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