RALEIGH – A special session called Wednesday night by the state legislature included several measures that could limit the power of Governor-elect Roy Cooper before he takes office on Jan. 1.
Legislators were called into session to respond to Hurricane Matthew and the North Carolina wildfires. But Wednesday evening's session included several items that seem designed to diminish the governor's authority to make appointments.
Members of the state's Republican-controlled legislature targeted Cooper's Cabinet appointments, making them subject to Senate approval. They also sought to eliminate the governor's ability to appoint members to the University of North Carolina system's board of trustees and the state Board of Education. Another proposal suggests splitting election boards evenly between the political parties with two members of each party participating. Currently, there are three members on election boards, with the majority representing the sitting governor's party affiliation.
There is also a measure proposed that will cut the number of employees who serve at the governor's will and pleasure from 1,500 to 300. That cut will reverse an expansion approved for current Governor Pat McCrory.
Of the bills proposed, only a handful are expected to be voted on during the special session. Still, the measures represent a significant shake-up.
In a Thursday morning press conference, Cooper questioned the timing and motive of the session.
“Major changes in the way state government operates should be done deliberately, with input from all parties, particularly something as important as elections and making sure people have the opportunity to vote,” said Cooper. “They shouldn’t be pushed through in the dark of night.”