RALEIGH — A local legislator landed a leadership position in the N.C. House of Representatives on Wednesday.
N.C. Rep. Sarah Stevens, who represents Surry County, was named Speaker Pro Tempore after the House convened.
Stevens, a Republican, said she is entering her ninth year and fifth term in the N.C. General Assembly. In her new position, Stevens will preside over the body in the absence of House Speaker Tim Moore. The position fits her personality and leadership qualities.
“My platform has always been to be a servant leader,” explained Stevens. “I try to be the big sister friend.”
Stevens said she’s not new to helping less experienced legislators draft and file legislation and provide any other guidance which could be useful to a fellow legislator. She will get to perform that role even more often in her new capacity.
The Mount Airy attorney said she has chaired and been the vice chair of multiple committees throughout her first four terms in office; she also chairs the N.C. Courts Commission.
“I think I demonstrated my leadership abilities and inclusive style as chair of those committees,” noted Stevens.
She said she has never been overly ambitious in regards to seeking any leadership roles. Thus, she doesn’t have her eyes set on another post.
“I’ll go where I can be of best service, and I’ll stay as long as I can help others,” explained Stevens. “I will cease (serving in leadership positions) when it becomes about me and not others.”
Moore, a fellow Republican from Cleveland, issued a statement regarding the appointment of Stevens.
“Rep. Sarah Stevens was elected by her colleagues to serve as Speaker Pro Tem because she possesses the character and poise we need in House leadership to continue our success creating jobs and improving education. Rep. Stevens has earned enormous respect from our caucus through her immense contribution to Republican policy reforms,” the statement reads.
“Rep. Stevens recognizes solutions to our biggest problems don’t come easy, and is willing to do the often thankless, detailed legislative work of improving policy outcomes for our citizens.”
“Rep. Stevens applies her very best to every issue at hand and our citizens are fortunate to have her working constantly on their behalf. She is a leader who brings citizens together to deal with complicated issues, create dialogue on difficult policy matters and find ways to pass reforms that improve North Carolina for her constituents and all those living in our state.”
After appointing leadership for the upcoming session, lawmakers recessed for two weeks.
Stevens said during that two-week period bills can be filed and leadership will attend to administrative matters such as seat assignments and appointing members to committees.
Then the legislature, which holds a Republican veto-proof majority, will see how its goals and proposed policies align with a new Democrat governor.
“I think he (Gov. Roy Cooper) is pushing for Medicaid expansion,” said Stevens in noting matters which may lead to a clash of the legislative and executive branches in Raleigh.
“We will be pushing for Medicaid reform,” added Stevens.
Stevens said lawmakers and the governor will look at funding increases for education, calling that an area of common ground. The two branches are likely to have different answers as to how to raise the extra dollars, however. The administration will likely favor some sort of revenue creation such as a tax or fee increase, while Republicans will look to find the funds elsewhere in the state budget.
She said budget priorities, as a whole, will separate the two branches.
“We will look at prioritizing spending, while he will look at increasing (the state’s) income,” explained Stevens.
She noted Cooper is already considering a hospital surcharge, what she believes is simply a disguised tax, as it will be passed along to the consumer.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.