02/07/07 — Bell elected new majority whip in House

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Bell elected new majority whip in House

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 7, 2007 1:51 PM

State Rep. Larry Bell, D-Sampson County, was elected Tuesday as one of three majority whips. Bell, who also represents Wayne County, is entering his fourth term in the House. This will be his second term serving as a Democratic Party House Whip.

"There were six people vying for the position and you don't ever know, but I was hoping my party would have enough confidence in me," he said. "I'm the only one returning, so I'm the senior whip I guess you'd call it."

The job of the three-member whip team, he explained, is to keep tabs on what legislation is coming to the floor, how members of the House Democratic Caucus are reacting to it -- particularly those bills that are on the legislative agenda of House Speaker Joe Hackney, D-Orange County, and House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson County -- and make sure everybody is present for important votes.

"We explain to (members) what the bills are about, answer any questions they might have and just tell them that it's a bill the leadership would like to see passed. We don't pressure them, but if they have any objections we try to address those," Bell said.

For his part, he continued, being the de facto senior whip will probably come with a little extra responsibility.

"I will probably be the person who will be the main point of contact for the leader and the speaker," he said.

But the benefits of being in such a position, he added, far outweigh any potential headaches.

"It gives me a position at the leadership table and when legislation comes up, that'll give me an opportunity to press for the concerns of Wayne and Sampson counties and those areas, plus I'm known by everybody in the caucus," Bell said.

The other two whips are Jean Farmer-Butterfield, D-Wilson County, and Deborah Ross, D-Wake County. They will serve a two-year term.