The North Carolina legislature is back in town and ready to work for the year following a two-week break.
The House and Senate planned to reconvene the General Assembly session at midday Wednesday. Little debate was expected on the first day, but lawmakers were expected to file an early flurry of bills. Two chambers elected Republican favorites Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger to their leadership posts on Jan. 14, then went home.
The conservative North Carolina Values Coalition also planned a closed briefing near the statehouse for lawmakers to discuss religious freedom issues. That has the state gay rights group Equality NC concerned. They're worried about laws exempting magistrates and state employees from performing legal same-sex weddings.
The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP is leading the resumption of protests targeting policies backed by the GOP-led Legislature.
Ministers and activists are gathering Wednesday morning before marching to the Legislative Building to hold a demonstration on the day lawmakers will reconvene this year's session.
State NAACP leader the Rev. William Barber has said reversing restrictive policies on voting rights, expanding Medicaid and raising minimum wage remain among the groups' key issues.
At their peak, the demonstrations that started during the 2013 legislative session drew thousands. About 1,000 people were arrested in previous years.
Barber has said the protesters are undeterred by elections in the fall that gave Republicans veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers.