Dan Forest takes oath to become Lt. GovernorPublished 8:26pm Monday, January 7, 2013
By EMERY P. DALESIO
RALEIGH (AP) — Dan Forest became North Carolina’s newest lieutenant governor on Monday, saying he hopes to be part of a dramatic change in how state government is run as Republicans take clear control of the state’s executive and legislative branches.
“We have some great opportunities that lie ahead” when the General Assembly reconvenes later this month, Forest said after taking the oath of office as the state’s No. 2 executive.
Republicans now running the legislative and executive branches of state government will push for removing regulations from businesses and in reducing taxes, including possibly eliminating income taxes paid by individuals and corporations, Forest said.
Forest said he also hopes lawmakers will revolutionize education and open the exploration and production of energy. Gov. Pat McCrory said last week he will push quickly for greater drilling for natural gas both off the state’s coast and within underground shale rock formations using a controversial technology called fracking.
“We have these opportunities before us. I truly hope that we will be bold enough and courageous enough to make those things happen,” said Forest, 45, an architect holding his first public office. He narrowly beat Democrat Linda Coleman in November.
Forest spoke as McCrory, state House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, and influential state Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, sat together in the intimate Old Senate Chambers of Raleigh’s 1840 State Capitol Building. Seated in the front row among about two dozen invited guests was Forest’s mother, former U.S. Rep. Susan Myrick, R-N.C., his wife, Alice, and their four children.
Administering Forest’s oath was Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby, whose November re-election ensured four Republicans on the seven-member high court. Newby’s re-election received heavy financial support from GOP-aligned outside groups.
Lieutenant governors have limited authority and their primary function is to take over if something happens to the governor, which has happened five times. Forest, who was elected independently from McCrory, could be assigned other duties by the governor. The lieutenant governor’s most prominent function is presiding over the state Senate, but he also has seats on the state’s community college and school boards.
Forest took office before this weekend’s ceremonial inauguration to preside over the Senate when the General Assembly reconvenes Wednesday.