North Carolina GOP seeks to reduce next governor’s powers

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) – North Carolina Republican lawmakers facing a new Democratic governor on Jan. 1 are nearly done taking steps to reduce his power despite demonstrations and threats of litigation.

The GOP-controlled legislature prepared Friday to complete an extraordinary special session and approve bills that would place checks upon Democrat Roy Cooper. The outgoing attorney general edged Republican incumbent Pat McCrory in their election last month.

Legislation that already cleared one chamber scaled back the team Cooper can bring into office, require the Senate’s approval for Cabinet secretaries and erase the governor’s ability to shape elections boards statewide.

More than a dozen people were arrested Thursday during protests at the General Assembly.

CLICK FOR MUGSHOTS OF THOSE ARRESTED AT THE NCGA PROTEST
CLICK FOR MUGSHOTS OF THOSE ARRESTED AT THE NCGA PROTEST

Earlier on Thursday, about 200 demonstrators led by the state NAACP filled a first-floor Legislative Building atrium. They demanded loudly that Republicans accept the will of the voters in last month’s election and leave Cooper’s powers alone. The NAACP and its allies have been protesting against GOP policies on topics like voting rights and Medicaid since 2013.

All of them were charged with violating legislative building rules. Some were also charged with second-degree trespass and/or resisting public officer.

Protester Margaret Toman of Garner says she came because she believes democracy is being undermined by the Republicans.

Democratic legislators urged protesters to fight on. Sen. Mike Woodard of Durham said they could make a big difference next fall during a scheduled special election for General Assembly members.

Early Thursday, Attorney General Roy Cooper said he’s ready to fight Republican legislation moving through the General Assembly’s special session that would hobble the Democrat when he becomes governor in a few weeks.

Cooper said Thursday he’ll sue lawmakers if he thinks laws they’re passing are unconstitutional or hurt working people.

Cooper lashed out against proposed legislation aimed at preventing him from shaving away at recent GOP initiatives.

Cooper says while Republican lawmakers aim to cripple his powers, the effect is to protect programs that transfer taxpayer money to private schools, allow increased pollution of air and water, and cut taxes for big corporations instead of the middle class.

Cooper promised he’d fight the proposed legislation that he called “unprecedented.

The Senate approved a bill Thursday that would merge North Carolina’s elections and ethics panels.

Current law would give Cooper control over the State Board of Elections and allow a majority of Democrats on it. The proposed board would be split between Democrats and Republicans and allow lawmakers to choose half the members.

GOP Sen. Tommy Tucker says the bill would take partisanship out of administering elections, but Democratic Sen. Floyd McKissick says the legislation is an attempt to deny the governor power he currently has.

The house approved a bill Thursday making Cooper’s Cabinet choices subject to Senate confirmation.

CBS North Carolina contributed to this report.

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