Pro­test­ers rip GOP for tak­ing away next gover­nor’s power

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pro­test­ers say the North Carolina leg­is­la­ture’s ac­tions lim­it­ing the next gover­nor’s in­flu­ence be­fore he even takes of­fice were un­con­sti­tu­tional power grabs by GOP leg­is­la­tors un­happy their can­di­date didn’t win re-elec­tion. “We voted for a new gover­nor and they’re choos­ing to come and ... take away the power,” said Caren Parker of Car­rboro, among the crowd who demon­strated this week against the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Gen­eral Assem­bly, lead­ing to more than 50 ar­rests.

So what’s next for Gov-elect Roy Cooper and other fel­low Democrats now that a spe­cial ses­sion is over that passed laws de­signed to weaken them? Law­suits and more demon­stra­tions are likely, al­though it’s un­clear how ef­fec­tive those will be. “Once more, the courts will have to clean up the mess the leg­is­la­ture made, but it won’t stop us from mov­ing North Carolina for­ward,” Cooper said in a state­ment af­ter the leg­is­la­ture ad­journed an ex­tra­or­di­nary three-day spe­cial ses­sion Fri­day.

McCrory, who lost to Cooper by about 10,000 votes in Novem­ber, quickly signed into law a bill that merges the State Board of Elec­tions and State Ethics Com­mis­sion into one board com­posed equally of Democrats and Repub­li­cans. The pre­vi­ous state elec­tions board law would have al­lowed Cooper to put a ma­jor­ity of Democrats on the panel.

Par­ti­san again

The law would also make elec­tions for ap­pel­late court judge­ships of­fi­cially par­ti­san again, which could fa­vor Repub­li­cans. A Demo­crat’s win last month in an of­fi­cially non­par­ti­san Supreme Court race will give the party its first ma­jor­ity on the court in al­most 20 years. Another bill that re­ceived fi­nal leg­isla­tive ap­proval would sub­ject Cooper’s Cabi­net choices to Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion and would al­low Cooper to des­ig­nate only up to 425 state em­ploy­ees as his po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees, com­pared with a cap of 1,500 for McCrory.

The Cabi­net bill ap­par­ently re­mains on McCrory’s desk. Emails and a phone call to McCrory’s of­fice seek­ing com­ment weren’t re­turned. With 30 days to de­cide whether to sign or veto a bill, McCrory could kick the bill to his suc­ces­sor Cooper, al­though that’s un­likely. Repub­li­cans will con­tinue hold­ing veto-proof ma­jori­ties in 2017.

Repub­li­cans call their ap­proval of leg­is­la­tion rea­son­able ac­tions to re­bal­ance state govern­ment be­fore a new ad­min­is­tra­tion takes of­fice. The North Carolina gover­nor’s pow­ers have ex­panded since the state be­came the last in the coun­try to give the veto to its ex­ec­u­tive in 1997. “It is proper for the leg­isla­tive branch to ad­just that so that the leg­isla­tive branch has more checks and bal­ances,” House Speaker Tim Moore said Fri­day. “The more that can be re­viewed by the leg­isla­tive branch, I would sub­mit, the bet­ter.”

‘This ain’t right ‘

Sev­eral pieces of leg­is­la­tion passed by Repub­li­cans since they took con­trol of the Gen­eral Assem­bly in 2011 have been struck down by courts. House Democrats are con­vinced any new laws also will be thrown out. They for­mally protested all three days be­cause they said the method by which Repub­li­cans called them­selves in - min­utes af­ter an ear­lier spe­cial ses­sion McCrory an­nounced for dis­as­ter re­lief leg­is­la­tion ended - wasn’t ini­ti­ated prop­erly. The is­sue in­volves the col­lect­ing the sig­na­tures from enough House and Se­nate mem­bers.

“This ain’t right; you can’t make it right,” said House Mi­nor­ity Leader Larry Hall of Durham. “The peo­ple of North Carolina aren’t be­ing treated right.” Bob Orr, a former state Supreme Court jus­tice, doubts the suc­cess of a chal­lenge of the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of hold­ing the ex­tra spe­cial ses­sion if there are enough sig­na­tures. But Orr said the bills passed by the leg­is­la­ture that ad­dress the con­fir­ma­tion of Cabi­net of­fi­cials and trans­fer­ring power from the State Board of Ed­u­ca­tion to the new Repub­li­can state school su­per­in­ten­dent aren’t as cut and dry.

While the state Con­sti­tu­tion gives the Se­nate power for “ad­vice and con­sent” of the gover­nor’s of­fi­cers, “where that bal­ance of power lines be­tween the leg­isla­tive branch and the ex­ec­u­tive is not set­tled,” said Orr, also a pre­vi­ous Repub­li­can gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date. Law­mak­ers’ ve­to­proof ma­jori­ties since 2013 and the un­com­pet­i­tive elec­tion dis­tricts they drew have al­lowed leg­isla­tive Repub­li­cans to ig­nore Demo­cratic view­points.

Re­tired school li­brar­ian Carolyn White, a long­time demon­stra­tor who was ar­rested two years ago as part of the “Moral Mon­day” protests against GOP-led leg­isla­tive poli­cies. She said that ar­rest didn’t seem to make a dif­fer­ence, but she’s still speak­ing out. “Just like the civil rights move­ment, it’s for­ward to­gether,” White said Fri­day. “You just have to keep go­ing for­ward.”

RALEIGH: A pro­tes­tor shouts as she is ar­rested out­side the House gallery dur­ing a spe­cial ses­sion of the North Carolina Gen­eral Assem­bly at the Leg­isla­tive Build­ing. — AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.