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Legislation in short session not expected to feel primaries’ impact

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(The Center Square) – Legislation in the short session of the North Carolina General Assembly isn’t expected to be impacted much by Tuesday’s primary results.

Voters sent three members of the House of Representatives and one in the Senate to the sidelines. Reps. Michael Wray, D-Northampton, George Cleveland, R-Onslow, and Kevin Crutchfield, R-Cabarrus, along with Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, were beaten.

State lawmakers losing in a primary is not unheard of, but not as rare as a Cabinet member falling. That’s what happened to Superintendent Catherine Truitt, who heads the state Department of Public Instruction.

Analysts of state politics describe, in an election year, the best option is usually to tread carefully. Steven Greene, professor of N.C. State University’s Department of Political Science, ties the majority Republican chambers to their party’s gubernatorial pick.

“Mark Robinson is a weak gubernatorial candidate because of his close association with hard-right positions on culture war issues,” Greene said. “He’s going to need to try and run away from these issues and the Legislature would not be doing him any favors by emphasizing issues on LGBT rights and abortion, so I expect they’ll stay away from anything that draws more attention to Robinson’s weaknesses.”

The short session convenes in April, is expected to run through most if not all of July and will include second-year budget adjustments. One topic hovering as a leftover from the days in September just prior to the two-year spending plan being passed is legalizing casinos. Already done is legalizing sports gambling, which launches Monday.

Andrew Taylor, political science professor at N.C. State University, told The Center Square in January some retiring lawmakers may want to finish projects before leaving. He also didn’t rule out abortion laws coming around again.

Dallas Woodhouse, North Carolina executive director of American Majority, also isn’t expecting any fireworks sandwiching the Fourth of July. Deregulation bills and small state employee bonuses were on his radar earlier, with no significant change after Super Tuesday.

“Legislative leaders will want to avoid contentious issues heading into the fall general election,” said David McLennan, Meredith University professor of political science and director of the Meredith Poll. “They might make tweaks to the budget or do some regulatory reform, but there was no mandate coming from the primary.”

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