Newly elected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper is threatening to sue Republicans after their attempted coup to limit his powers in a surprise legislative session.
The Republican-controlled legislature in North Carolina is currently attempting to undermine newly elected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper by pushing bills that would limit Cooper’s power once he takes office next month, and he is not about to take it standing down, warning that Republican “will see me in court.”
In a news conference, the governor-elect blasted lawmakers for plotting secretly for weeks to introduce the bills. He compared the move to the enactment this spring of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” known as House Bill 2, which nullified protections for gay and transgender residents. Some say the law, which brought boycotts by sports leagues and some businesses, contributed significantly to Mr. McCrory’s loss. His was the only governor’s seat in the country that Republicans failed to hold on Election Day, even as Donald J. Trump won here.
“We don’t want another disaster like House Bill 2,” Mr. Cooper said. “This is exactly why we had problems with House Bill 2, because they wanted to do it in secret,” he said.
At issue is NC Republican legislators who are trying to pass a series of bills that would effectively prevent Cooper from making certain Cabinet appointments, would change the way unconstitutional bills are legally challenged and would limit the power of the State Board of Elections. Bills have been introduced that would convert 1,000 state government jobs from political appointments to civil service positions – which means Cooper would be forced to rely on people hired by the outgoing GOP Governor Pat McCrory instead of being able to appoint his own personnel. One of the bills introduced would require the Republican State Senate to confirm any of Cooper’s cabinet picks – a tactic that one lawmaker admitted was in reaction to Cooper’s win.
The GOP legislature could remove Cooper’s authority to appoint a majority of the State Board of Elections – as well as the county Boards of Elections – which determine polling locations and how long the polling places can stay open. In other words, a way to suppress the vote.
The proposal (SB 4) would have an equal number of members from the Republican and Democratic parties and would eliminate Cooper’s control over the State Board of Elections. Under HB 17 any of Cooper’s Cabinet picks would have to be approved by the GOP-dominated state Senate.
The governor currently appoints all five board members. Under SB 4, there would be an executive director and eight board members, which would include four Democrats and four Republicans. Cooper would be able to appoint four of the members, but two would be selected by the heavily Republican House of Representatives and the other two would be chosen by the GOP controlled state Senate. Additionally, county election boards would also change from three — two currently appointed by the sitting governor — to four members, and would be split evenly along party lines.
SB 4 also requires that six members of the State Board of Elections must agree on a motion before taking action. However, the bill offers no guidance if there’s a 50/50 split.
State Rep. Darren Jackson (D) said, “If you call an emergency meeting and only five people could attend, then you can take no action even though you have a quorum.This creates a board that will be frozen and unable to make decisions in any disputed case. I just don’t know how it would work.”