Thelma Harper will lead the General Assembly's Black Caucus:
Harper said she was concerned that GOP lawmakers would become distracted from creating jobs and improving the state's economy, which voters indicated were their top issues in the November election. Republicans have filed bills in recent weeks related to issues such as illegal immigration, the federal health-care law and denying food stamps for felons convicted of drug-related crimes."The people have spoken and they have said, 'We want to go to work,' " Harper said. "They said, 'We want you to focus on trying to create jobs for us.' "
Harper said expanding college opportunities for poor students, preserving the state's pre-kindergarten program and improving health-care options for the working class would be among the priorities for the Black Caucus this session.