Old North State Report - December 19, 2016
BREAKING NEWS: The Raleigh News & Observer is reporting that less than two hours ago, the Charlotte City Council voted 10 to 0 to rescind the LGBT ordinance that prompted the enactment of House Bill 2 in March. Governor-elect Roy Cooper has issued a statement that he has been assured by Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore that as a result of the Charlotte vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal House Bill 2 in full.
There is rarely a dull moment in North Carolina politics. Many special sessions!
Last week started out with a special legislative session called by the Governor to appropriate just over $200 million for recovery efforts related to damage caused by Hurricane Matthew in the east and by wildfires in the west. The General Assembly unanimously passed House Bill 2 (“Disaster Recovery Act”):
Then legislative leaders called themselves back (via petition) into another special session to consider other matters. Democrats, who suspected Republicans would try to add new seats to the Supreme Court, cried foul. Protesters, lobbyists, and journalists converged on downtown Raleigh.
Ultimately, the General Assembly passed two bills which alter the balance of powers between the legislative and executive branches as well as a few independent agencies. Democrats claim it is partisan politics designed to undercut Governor-elect Roy Cooper. Republican respond that the Democrats have changed similar laws in the past when it suited their interests.
House Bill 17 (“Modify Certain Appointments/Employment”) empowers the newly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction (Mark Johnson, a Republican) at the expense of the State Board of Education (whose members are appointed by the Governor), shifts university trustee appointments from the Governor to the legislature, and requires Senate confirmation of Cabinet nominations:
Senate Bill 4 (“Bi-partisan Ethics, Elections & Court Reform”) combines the functions of the State Ethics Commission, the lobbying section of the Secretary of State, and the State Elections
Board under a new agency while also restoring partisan judicial campaigns and modifying appellate review of certain cases.
Additionally, the legislature limited the number of employees the Governor can hire who are not subject to state hiring rules and confirmed two superior court judges and a new member of the industrial commission. By adjournment on Friday afternoon, dozens of protesters were arrested, several lawsuits threatened, and outgoing Governor Pat McCrory signed Senate Bill 4 into law. However, House Bill 17 remains on the Governor's desk. Stay Tuned!
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.