The battle between North Carolina’s Republican-dominated General Assembly and its Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has centered, in large part, around the judiciary. The GOP knows that many of its efforts to consolidate power are unlawful, and the courts have not hesitated to block legislative overreach. In response, North Carolina Republicans are attempting to simultaneously hobble the courts and pack them with partisans. Legislative Republicans are close to passing two bills that would strip Cooper of the authority to appoint many judges, delegating that task to the General Assembly instead. And they have already passed a bill shrinking the state Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12—a brazen effort to prevent Cooper from filling the vacancies left by three Republican judges set to step down during his term. Cooper vetoed the bill, but the legislature will soon enact the measure through veto override. (Read more)
The Watch Dog response: This is just a damn shame how the Republicans continue to change the rules to get things accomplished since they got the majority seats.
The state House and Senate Tuesday afternoon gave final approval to Senate Bill 68, the Elections/Ethics/Lobbying merger bill. It was sent to Gov. Cooper, who has indicated that he would veto it. He has 10 days to do so. Overriding a veto requires three-fifths majorities of members present in the House and Senate.
Read the final bill here. The final version keeps four-member county boards, with a Democratic chairman in odd-numbered years and a Republican chairman in even-numbered years.
Changes made to SB 68 in the final conference report (compared to previous version) include:
SBE Majority: SBE votes require a simple majority of five. These five votes are required, regardless of the number of those present (thus if a bare quorum of five is present, the vote must be unanimous).
Previously, ethics, campaign finance, and new elections matters required six votes.
SBE Chairs: SBE chairs alternate between Republican and Democratic members every term (two years), with a Democrat chairing during midterm elections and a Republican chairing during presidential elections. SBE vice-chairs are of the opposite party.
Previously, there was no party requirement for the chair.
SBE Removal: Governor may remove SBE member who fails to attend a meeting and, thereby, blocks quorum for at least three days. However, the party chair still has 30 days to submit two names for each vacancy.
A variation on this scenario was raised in the House debate on the bill.
SBE Subpoenas: SBE subpoenas for elections, campaign finance, and lobbying (all non-ethics) matters requires action a simple majority.
Previously, the majority had to include at least two members of each political party.
Transition Officers: In 2017, Governor Cooper appoints the vice-chair and secretary. Thereafter the State Board selects these positions.
Previously the governor just appointed the chair.
Before the legislature went into its notorious special session last week, 12 Republican state lawmakers issued a statement addressing a contrived controversy about Governor-elect Roy Cooper’s newly hired senior adviser, Ken Eudy.
They said Eudy is unfit to serve because he disclosed in an essay written for the website EducationNC that he stands for the national anthem, but remains seated when a crowd is urged to stand to honor those who serve in the military. Eudy, who served six years in the Army National Guard, wrote that he won’t stand for members of the military until we also honor teachers.
Eudy’s position may not be a popular one, but it represents the freedom of expression soldiers have given their lives to protect. Rep. Holly Grange (R-New Hanover) didn’t see it that way. A West Point graduate, Grange said, “It is very concerning that Governor-elect Cooper’s pick for senior adviser, Ken Eudy, has publicly expressed negative opinions and degrading comments toward our state’s military servicemen and women.”
And yet, only two days later, these Republican patriots participated in an attack on the democratic system they are sworn to uphold. In an unannounced special session they moved to limit Governor-elect Cooper’s power to appoint his Cabinet and fill his administration with people who share his priorities. The Republican majority also sought to change the judicial process by directing that appeals of state constitutional challenges of their laws go first to the state Court of Appeals, where Republicans have an 11-4 majority. Those appeals had gone directly from the Superior Court to the state Supreme Court, which just flipped to Democratic control. (Read more)
The Political Agitator’s response: When all good folk, white, black, other, Republicans, Democrats and other admit to what we have experienced since electing the first black President Barack Obama that the entirely world has witnessed RACISM and IGNANCE at it’s best coming from the highest office of these United States, the better off the world will be.
One of the most important parts of the Affordable Care Act was the expansion of Medicaid to extend healthcare to low-income Americans. Most Republican governors across the country, determined to sabotage President Obama’s flagship legislation, refused to accept the expansion, preferring to let their people and their budgets suffer just to spite President Obama.
Those decisions by red governors are coming back to bite them where it really hurts- in their budgets. A new report from the Kasier Family Foundation indicates that states that refused to expand Medicaid coverage are now paying more for it than if they had, easily debunking the false narratives and doomsday prophecies that Republicans still treat as gospel, no matter how many reports or studies are released showing that the ACA in fact lowers healthcare costs. (Source: Read more)
The Political Agitator response: Them Republicans are going to hold us right where we are, little to no progress. This makes no sense. I agree with the following: N.C. Sen. Angela Bryant, D-Nash, said she blames the uncertainty to resolve the state’s incentive package issue on Republican state lawmakers.
North Carolina appears to have missed out on landing another major automobile plant.
According to multiple reports, China-based Volvo Car Corp. is the latest car company to drop the state from its list of choice locations to build a $500 million factory and Volvo’s first auto plant in the United States. Reports say Volvo officials have narrowed its search to Georgia and South Carolina. Landing a large-scale automaker has eluded North Carolina for more than two decades going back to 1993 when Mercedes-Benz picked Alabama over a site near Mebane. In recent years, North Carolina economic developers have tried to lure the North American headquarters of both Toyota and Mercedes-Benz, which went to Texas and Georgia, respectively.
Most other states in the southeast have at least one automobile plant. States compete fiercely for such plants because they bring thousands of jobs and a large network of suppliers. (Source: Read more)
By now it’s a Republican Party tradition: Every year the party produces a budget that allegedly slashes deficits, but which turns out to contain a trillion-dollar “magic asterisk” — a line that promises huge spending cuts and/or revenue increases, but without explaining where the money is supposed to come from.
But the just-released budgets from the House and Senate majorities break new ground. Each contains not one but two trillion-dollar magic asterisks: one on spending, one on revenue. And that’s actually an understatement. If either budget were to become law, it would leave the federal government several trillion dollars deeper in debt than claimed, and that’s just in the first decade. (Source: Read more)