Monday, December 19, 2016

N.C. Republicans enact law taking powers away from Democrats and their incoming governor

Outgoing North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday signed into a law a measure that critics say will benefit Republicans and take power away from Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper, Richard Craver reports for the Winston-Salem Journal. McCrory lost a close race in November to Cooper. The state House and Senate are Republican-controlled.

McCrory signed SB 4, which "makes significant changes to the state and county elections boards, and would return the state Supreme Court to partisan races," Craver writes. "The bill also would combine the state elections board with the campaign-finance, lobbying and ethics commissions into one state agency."

Craig Jarvis, of The News & Observer in Raleigh, notes that "Republican legislators who wrote Senate Bill 4 describe it as an effort to make elections oversight bipartisan. But the result would be to deprive the incoming Democratic administration of control of state and county elections boards."

HB 17, which was approved Friday afternoon and is expected to be signed by McCrory, would strip the governor's power to appoint University of North Carolina trustees, Craver writes. It also will "require the advice and consent of the Senate for governor appointments as state department heads and reduce the number of exempted state employees from 1,500 back to 300—the same level as in the months before Gov. Pat McCrory was elected. A Senate amendment would raise the number to 400." Democrats say that could make as many as 1,200 McCrory appointees career state employees.

Cooper told reporters, “If I believe that laws passed by the legislature hurt working families and are unconstitutional, they will see me in court and they don’t have a very good track record there.”

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