23 April 2017
Governor Cooper vetoed two bills. House Bill 239 would reduce the number of appeals court judges from 15 to 12. It was prompted by three Republican judges nearing mandatory retirement age. If the number of seats were not reduced, the Governor would be able to make appointments to fill the vacant seats. In his veto message, Cooper noted that this move is a partisan attempt to pack the appeals court with Republican judges. The legislature is expected to override the veto, just as it overrode the veto of a bill requiring party labels on all judicial races. Clearly, our state courts at all levels are being politicized.
The Governor also vetoed Senate Bill 68, which altered the party affiliation of both state and local election boards.
The boards would be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats (a situation opponents claim could lead to gridlock) with a Republican chair during presidential election years (when there are more races on the ballot) and a Democratic chair in off-election years. The courts threw out an earlier version of this legislation that took away the governor’s power to make appointments. Proponents claim that the court objections are satisfied by restoring the governor’s appointing power, but Governor Cooper in his veto message claimed that the bill is the same unconstitutional measure in another package and noted that Republicans have a record of pressuring boards of election to make it harder for people to register and vote. Governor Cooper has vowed to fight this legislation in court if his veto is overridden. See: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article145960749.html, 4/21/17.
The crossover deadline of April 28 (April 27 at midnight) is approaching. This means that bills that have not passed one house by that date are effectively dead. There are exceptions (most notably bills that have an appropriation), but in practical terms it will mean bills that NC NOW supports that have not made it through one house will die for this session.
More on “Unborn Child Protection” bill converted, ERA Update, lawsuit updates and bill tracking in NC_NOW Legislative Update 12 23Apr17.