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.