North Carolina Special Session Reduces Gubernatorial Power Following 2016 Election

North Carolina legislators returned to Raleigh last week for a special session to pass legislation providing state relief to victims of natural disasters. After passing the disaster relief legislation, the Republican-controlled legislature quickly called another special session in order to introduce controversial legislation to restructure the state’s management of elections and, in particular, reduce gubernatorial authority as Democrat Governor-elect Roy Cooper prepares to take office on New Year’s Day.

The North Carolina legislature introduced controversial measures to reduce the incoming governor’s authority by limiting the number of political or gubernatorial appointments and requiring Senate approval of key Cabinet members. The legislature would also consolidate the State Ethics Commission with the Board of Elections and expand its governing body from five members to eight members who are equally appointed by the Democrat and Republican parties. The governor currently appoints three of the five members on the board. In addition, new legislation would allow state Supreme Court candidates to be affiliated with a political party.

Even though the Republican legislature could have waited and enacted these bills next year because of their veto-proof supermajorities, many consider the expedited legislative process a political maneuver that is intended to limit the debate. However, as reported by the The Atlantic, the hastily called special session did not prevent protesters from voicing their anger and frustration as chants of “our house” could be heard in and around the Capitol.

The current controversy may challenge the relationship between the new governor and the legislature, but it will not deter NAIOP’s advocacy on behalf of commercial real estate. The three NAIOP chapters in North Carolina have been very active in the state capitol and will continue to do so in 2017 by working with the legislature and the new governor to develop and implement sound policies that spur economic development and job creation.

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