Fail­ure to undo LGBT law slows Cooper plans

GOP to main­tain veto-proof ma­jor­ity

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY GARY D. ROBERTSON

RALEIGH, N.C. | North Carolina’s next Demo­cratic gov­er­nor has seen a deal he helped bro­ker to re­peal the state’s law lim­it­ing LGBT pro­tec­tions fall apart and had sev­eral of his pow­ers stripped away by the state’s Repub­li­can-dom­i­nated leg­is­la­ture. And he hasn’t even been sworn in yet.

Gov.-elect Roy Cooper has vowed to keep his cam­paign prom­ises to bend back the right­ward course of the state. But with only a 10,000-vote vic­tory over GOP Gov. Pat McCrory and bit­ter par­ti­san dis­trust in this deeply di­vided state, he’s al­ready slipped along the rocky path he must walk to work suc­cess­fully with the leg­is­la­ture. And Repub­li­cans will main­tain veto-proof ma­jori­ties in 2017.

“My fu­ture ne­go­ti­a­tions with them are cer­tainly go­ing to have to be in­structed by this,” a somber yet an­gry Mr. Cooper told re­porters last week af­ter the deal to re­peal the law known na­tion­ally as the “bath­room bill” col­lapsed.

Two De­cem­ber spe­cial ses­sions, one of which saw rau­cous protests against Repub­li­cans and dozens of ar­rests, have cre­ated fur­ther strain in a di­vided state that chose Repub­li­cans Don­ald Trump for pres­i­dent and Richard Burr for U.S. Se­nate but went with a Demo­crat for gov­er­nor.

“There’s a com­plete lack of trust between the leg­isla­tive lead­er­ship and Cooper at this point in time,” long­time state Demo­cratic con­sul­tant Brad Crone said. “That does not bode well for an in­com­ing gov­er­nor.”

Miss­ing out on end­ing House Bill 2 — which also di­rected trans­gen­der peo­ple to use bath­rooms in pub­lic build­ings cor­re­spond­ing to the sex on their birth cer­tifi­cate — prompted fin­ger-point­ing between Mr. Cooper and leg­isla­tive lead­ers. It would have been a ma­jor ac­com­plish­ment to re­peal a bill that has been blamed for job losses, can­celed con­certs and sport­ing events, and stain­ing North Carolina’s rep­u­ta­tion.

“I think Roy Cooper did ev­ery­thing he could to sab­o­tage a rea­son­able com­pro­mise,” said Se­nate leader Phil Berger, Rock­ing­ham Repub­li­can.

Mr. Cooper shot back: “My mom and dad used to tell me that when you sat down and looked some­body in the eye and told them some­thing, you should keep your prom­ise, and clearly they have not done so.”

Even be­fore the Gen­eral Assem­bly ses­sions, Mr. Cooper al­ready was at a dis­ad­van­tage.

Mr. Cooper is a 30-year vet­eran of state pol­i­tics — 14 years in the leg­is­la­ture be­fore 16 as at­tor­ney gen­eral — and claimed vic­tory on elec­tion night. But it was an­other 27 days be­fore Mr. McCrory con­ceded while dozens of bal­lot protests and a par­tial re­count worked out the re­sults.

Set to take of­fice Jan. 1, Mr. Cooper hasn’t yet an­nounced a sin­gle Cabi­net ap­point­ment — some­thing Mr. McCrory had done by this time af­ter his 2012 elec­tion — and faces new hur­dles for his choices.

One law the Gen­eral Assem­bly ap­proved this month re­quires his Cabi­net choices be con­firmed by leg­is­la­tors. The state Con­sti­tu­tion gives the Se­nate the abil­ity to “ad­vise and con­sent” to the gov­er­nor’s ap­pointees by a ma­jor­ity vote, but that pro­vi­sion hadn’t been used in at least sev­eral decades.

GOP leg­is­la­tors ar­gued they are only re­bal­anc­ing the pow­ers between the leg­isla­tive and ex­ec­u­tive branches, but Democrats and their al­lies call it a brazen, un­law­ful power grab.

An­other law re­duces the num­ber of po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees Mr. Cooper can hire. Repub­li­cans had ex­panded the num­ber of such pol­i­cy­mak­ing jobs for Mr. McCrory from 400 to 1,500. That num­ber goes back down to 425 for Mr. Cooper.

Mr. Cooper pre­vi­ously threat­ened law­suits to chal­lenge the ef­forts to scale back his power. “They will see me in court,” he told The Charlotte Ob­server last week.

Even as law­mak­ers held spe­cial ses­sions, the board of North Carolina’s pri­vate non­profit tasked with lur­ing com­pa­nies to the state — now filled with ap­pointees from Mr. McCrory and the leg­is­la­ture — passed a by­law change that will make it hard for Mr. Cooper to put his board choices on quickly.

The bad blood with law­mak­ers could por­tend Mr. Cooper’s dif­fi­cul­ties to fol­low through on other cam­paign plat­form planks, such as ac­cel­er­at­ing pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing and shift­ing tax bur­dens away from the mid­dle class. He’s also vowed to pre­serve vot­ing and abor­tion rights af­ter Repub­li­cans passed laws in 2013 scal­ing back early in-per­son vot­ing and ex­tend­ing the abor­tion wait­ing pe­riod to three days.


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