'Extraordinary Power Grab' in North Carolina Politics

Republicans strip incoming Democratic governor of some of his authority
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 16, 2016 3:52 PM CST
Updated Dec 16, 2016 4:13 PM CST
'Extraordinary Power Grab' in North Carolina Politics
Demonstrators gather outside of a press conference room during a special session at the North Carolina Legislature in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016.   (Gerry Broome)

North Carolina Republicans stripped the incoming Democratic governor of some of his authority on Friday and they were on the cusp of an even greater power grab, an extraordinary move that critics said flies in the face of voters, the AP reports. Just last week, it appeared Republicans were ready to finally accept Democrats' narrow win in a contentious governor's race. As it turns out, they weren't done fighting. In a surprise special session in the dying days of the old administration, some say the Republican-dominated legislature has thrown the government into total disarray, approving at least one bill aimed at emasculating incoming Gov. Roy Cooper's administration. Cooper, the current attorney general, has threatened to sue. And many in the state are accusing Republicans of letting sour grapes over losing the governor's mansion turn into a legislative coup.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who lost to Cooper by about 10,000 votes, quickly signed into law a bill that merges the State Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission into one board comprised equally of Democrats and Republicans, according to documents from General Assembly staff. The previous state elections board law would have allowed Cooper to put a majority of Democrats on the panel. The law would also make elections for appellate court judgeships officially partisan again. Another bill that received final legislative approval would force Cooper's Cabinet choices to be subject to Senate confirmation. McCrory must decide whether to sign the second law. Republicans insist the legislation is simply adjusting the constitutional powers already granted to the General Assembly. Many of the provisions had been debated for years but always got set aside. Democrats said it was an attempt by the GOP to cling to power a week after the Republican incumbent conceded. (Read more North Carolina stories.)

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