Powers of New N. Carolina Governor Slashed by Republican Legislature Before He Takes Office

Friday, December 16, 2016
Roy Cooper (photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images)

 

By Richard Fausset and Trip Gabriel, New York Times

 

RALEIGH, N.C. — There have been four years of civil disobedience, reputation-bruising boycotts over bathroom access and legal battles over voting laws and gerrymanders. The gubernatorial election, fraught with Republican challenges, took a month to settle.

 

But if anyone in Raleigh thought that Democrat Roy Cooper’s victory in that race would open a new era of cooperation and calm in North Carolina, all they had to do was listen Thursday to the bellowing voice of Evan Hughes, a lettuce farmer from Durham. Hughes, 35, was in front of North Carolina’s legislative offices, berating the executive director of the state Republican Party for the group’s latest gambit to strip Cooper of many of his powers as governor before he even takes office.

 

“We’re talking about changing the rules at the last minute,” Hughes said.

 

Dallas Woodhouse, the Republican official, eventually fled into the building, where lawmakers from his party introduced a flurry of bills during a surprise special session this week to undermine Cooper by stripping him of his ability to make key appointments to state and local boards and mandating, for the first time, legislative approval of his Cabinet.

 

The legislative session generated reminders of one in March that led to the divisive “bathroom bill” that limited gay and transgender rights.

 

The law is seen as playing a role in Cooper’s defeat of Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican.

 

The new legislation moved quickly through committees and floor votes Thursday, where Republicans hold large majorities in both chambers. In separate incidents, the state Senate and House galleries were closed and cleared of protesters after outbursts interrupted proceedings.

 

Senators passed one of the major bills, which removes partisan control of the state and county election boards from the governor.

 

The House passed another key bill, enhancing the power of the state superintendent of education and mandating Senate approval of Cooper’s Cabinet appointments.

 

The House- and Senate-passed bills were scheduled to be taken up by the other chamber Friday.

 

Cooper angrily attacked Republicans Thursday. “They will see me in court,” he warned. It was not clear if Democrats have any legal recourse.

 

To Learn More:

Most Contentious Governor’s Race in Nation Expected in North Carolina as Battle over LGBT Law Heats Up (by Gary D. Robertson and Jonathan Drew, Associated Press)

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