With protesters a’plenty in Raleigh, the special sessions have pushed forward and the bills presented by Republican lawmakers to mute the damage of a Roy Cooper governorship have both been passed by the state House and state Senate.
Both require the signature of exiting-Governor Pat McCrory, in order to take effect.
As of this writing, McCrory has signed Senate Bill 4.
The bill signed by McCrory, which originated in the state Senate, would change the make-up of the state elections board and prevent Democrats from taking over the state and county elections boards when Democrat Roy Cooper takes office.
Under the current system, the state elections board is comprised of three members from the governor’s party and two from the minority party, and county boards are also controlled by the governor’s party. With the bill signed by McCrory on Friday, the state elections board will be combined with the ethics commission and will be comprised of four Republicans and four Democrats, and county boards will also be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
Further, the bill states that during odd numbered years (such as 2017), a Democrat member of the elections board will serve as chair, and in even numbered years, a Republican will be chair.
The Senate bill that passed that body Friday afternoon also changes the appeals process, keeping some cases from being appealed directly to the state Supreme Court and would make state Supreme Court elections partisan. This comes after the state Supreme Court flipped to Democratic control in the 2016 election.
One reason for this is that in the past, court elections have been listed on ballots as non-partisan. There has been speculation that voters didn’t know enough about the judges they were voting for, and a conservative judge lost his seat to a hyper-liberal judge, who had been instrumental in overturning voter ID in North Carolina.
The second bill, which both houses of the General Assembly have now passed, would subject the governor’s cabinet appointees to state Senate approval. The House version would also cut from 1,500 to 300 the number of “exempt positions,” which are often political in nature, that the governor can appoint. The legislation passed in the House, and the Senate has so far amended the legislation to give Cooper 425 exempt appointees instead if just 300.
The legislation would also shift political appointees to other elected officials, some of which are Republicans, and would allow some of McCrory’s political appointees to stay on in the Cooper administration.
Sixteen protesters were arrested in Raleigh on Thursday, as they packed the room and shouted down legislators, who abruptly ended the proceedings, rather than try to push on over the ruckus.
As has been stated elsewhere, these moves by North Carolina Republicans are perfectly legal and above board, so they’re doing nothing that is outside of the law or the state’s constitution.
I get why Democrats are upset.
I just don’t care.
There’s nothing about the bills that are heinous, or as Roy Cooper stated, “ominous.” In fact, the plan for the state and county election boards sounds absolutely fair and equitable.
It’s politics. Maybe Cooper’s handlers should have alerted him to what he was walking into before he let himself be drawn in as their puppet.