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3-judge panel will hear arguments over constitutionality of 2016 special session

A three-judge panel will hear arguments tomorrow challenging a surprise special legislative session from 2016 in which lawmakers made changes to existing power structures in the state.

Common Cause North Carolina and 10 state residents filed suit last year against Lieutenant Gov. Dan Forest, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger over the constitutionality of the special session, which was called with just two hours notice and no public disclosure on what bills would be considered.

The lawsuit seeks to void two bills that were passed during that special session: Senate Bill 4 — an omnibus measure that changed the structure of state and county boards of elections, created partisan appellate elections and took some appointment power from the governor; and House Bill 17 — a measure transferring power from the State Board of Education to newly elected Republican Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Mark Johnson.

Both of those bills have been challenged separately in unrelated lawsuits.

The three judges assigned to hear the Common Cause v. Forest case are Judge Wayland Sermons, a registered Democrat who serves the second judicial district, which includes Beaufort County; Judge Martin McGee, a registered Republican who serves Cabarrus County; and Judge W. Todd Pomeroy, a registered Republican who serves Cleveland and Lincoln counties.

The hearing will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday in courtroom 303 at Campbell University School of Law, on Hillsborough Street.

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