Another Constitutional Amendment: Bipartisan Board of Elections

RALEIGH – North Carolina’s general election ballot in November is sure to be a long one. Republicans in the General Assembly introduced the fourth proposed constitutional amendment of the session, this time to cement the Bipartisan State Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement as under the ultimate authority of the legislature.

House Bill 913, previously a bill dealing with high risk insurance pools, was brought before the House Rules committee Monday as a substitute that would reassert the legislature’s control of appointment powers, splitting the appointments to the eight member board between the legislative majority and minority. The governor would have no appointments to the board.

The bill text stipulates that while the Board will be housed in the executive branch, it will be for adminstrative purposes only, and all authority will be exercised independently.

The authority of the legislative branch over boards and commissions, even those housed in executive agencies, was previously established when courts sided with the legislature over the executive in the McCrory v. Berger case. That case centered around the respective roles in the Coal Ash Commission.

The proposal goes on to assert that the legislative branch controls “the powers, duties, responsibilities, appointments, and terms of office of any board or commission, the Governor shall implement that general law as enacted and the legislative delegation provided for in Section 6 of Article I of this Constitution shall control.

It’s unclear exactly why such an amendment to the constitution is needed considering these authorities are pretty well delineated in the constitution already. Perhaps this amendment represents the ‘kitchen sink’ as Republicans load up the ballot with popular constitutional addendums.

This proposal is also another example of a bill stuck in suspended animation, this time a high risk insurance pool bill, that gets plucked out and substituted for something completely different. All in order to work around rules about what can and cannot be filed during the legislative short session.

When the subjects at hand are agreeable, this might earn a shoulder shrug, but how would conservatives feel if such a tactic was used to introduce less than desirable proposals?

What if Democrats – if they ever again work their way out of the electoral doldrums their policies have landed them in – used such tactics to revive an unrelated bill and substitute, say, a 100 percent renewable energy amendment?

The content itself would surely be slammed (such a proposal, as with most of the Left’s proposals are absurd), but so, too, would the tactic used to move it along.

Either way, this is the fourth amendment proposal so far – joining voter ID, state income tax cap, and right to hunt and fish – and with plenty of time left before lawmakers head back home, there could be more.

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