The state Senate has signed off on legislation that creates a single board to oversee the state’s ethics, lobbying and elections administration. Republican sponsors insist it is aimed at creating a bipartisan panel to oversee all decisions on lobbying, elections and ethics rules. But that eight-member board would need six votes to take any action, something critics say would bog it down and make it less able to act. Senate readies elections, ethics overhaul “That will require bipartisan cooperation,” said Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union. The idea, he said, would be to encourage consensus decisions. The measure passed 30-16 and is now headed to the House for consideration. Deliberations were interrupted by protestors who at various times laughed, clapped or expressed disapproval. After a third interruption, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest ordered the visitor’s gallery cleared. That provoked an even louder outburst followed by chanting once the doors were finally locked. The bill is one of several measures that Democrats have criticized as a way to take power from incoming Gov. Roy Cooper. Under current law, Cooper would appoint members of the State Board of Elections and be able to give it a 3-2 partisan tilt toward the Democrats, reversing the 3-2 Republican majority appointed by outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory.
“It’s really transparent and really clear that the simple purpose of this bill is to undercut the power and authority of Gov.-elect Roy Cooper before he takes the oath of office on Jan. 1,” Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, said. “It’s clear. It’s transparent. It’s obvious. Even Stevie Wonder could see this.”
Sen. Jane Smith, D-Columbus, said she was bothered that lawmakers were called to Raleigh under the guise of a special session to assist Hurricane Matthew flood victims but now were handling unrelated bills.
“It now seems to me the hurricane session was just a ruse to get us here,” Smith said.