The GOP supermajority in the NCGA had been saying this week they didn’t intend to go beyond disaster relief in this session. So, having passed the disaster relief bill that prompted the extra session, the Republicans decided to end the session and begin a new one. And in this new one…well, they’re doing so many things.
Most of the bills in some way grant final political advantages to outgoing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, curtail the power and influence of incoming Democratic Governor-Elect Roy Cooper, consolidate political power under GOP elected officials or appointees or attempt push through GOP priorities they couldn’t accomplish during the last full session.
Among the bills filed Wednesday:
* House Bill 17, which would strip the incoming governor of many of his appointment powers, dramatically reduce the number of employees who he may hire or fire and make even his cabinet appointments Senate confirmable.
* Senate Bill 4, which would re-make the State Board of Elections in a manner that prevents Cooper from appointing a majority of the board’s members, make State Supreme Court and Appeals Court races partisan and make it more difficult for cases to reach the state’s highest court, which with November’s non-partisan election now has a majority of judges who are Democrats.
*Senate Bills 6 and 7, which allow confirmation of two Special Superior Court judges appointed by McCrory before he leaves office. The appointees are conservative Charlotte attorney Adam Conrad and Andrew Heath, who now serves as McCrory’s budget director.
* House Bill 3, a scaled-back version of a regulatory reform bill that didn’t get passed in the regular session. Among its provisions: allowing cars and trucks in 25 counties to forego emissions testing.
Committee meetings on the bill begin Thursday morning and legislative leaders are now saying the session is likely to stretch to Friday.
Strap in – we’re likely to see a few more surprises before the session ends.