Dec 2, 2022 - News

N.C. lawmaker will be the longest-serving state legislative leader

Photo illustration of North Carolina Senator Phil Berger with lines radiating from him.

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger will become the longest-serving state legislative leader in the country come January, when he begins his 13th year at the helm of the state's Senate chamber, Pluribus News first reported.

  • The country's current longest serving legislative leader is Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, who has served for 19 years and is stepping down, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Flashback: Berger, who was elected in 2000, rose to power at the beginning of one of the state's most significant political shifts. He was elected to lead the state Senate in 2011 — one year after Republicans seized majorities in both legislative chambers for the first time in a century.

Why it matters: Since then, Berger has helped Republicans accomplish some of their biggest priorities, many with seismic impacts on North Carolina.

  • In the time Berger has served as arguably the state's most powerful politician, North Carolina's Republican-led legislature has ushered into law corporate and personal income tax cuts, padded the state's coffers with additional funding, overhauled the state's Medicaid program and expansion of school vouchers, all while maintaining legislative power.

Yes, but: Berger's efforts have been met with fierce opposition throughout his tenure as Senate leader, sparking Moral Mondays, which were weekly protests held by the NAACP beginning in 2013 to push back against the Republican-led legislature's "extreme" agenda.

What we're watching: Berger, who is not one to bend to political pressure or change his mind, recently shifted his stance on expanding Medicaid in North Carolina. Earlier this year, he unveiled legislation to do so, after years of saying expansion is bad policy.

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