Shortly after passing disaster relief assistance for areas in North Carolina effected by Hurricane Matthew and wildfires, the General Assembly made the decision to add on a session to take up other, unspecified business on Thursday.
Most legislative leaders were tight-lipped on what the session would entail, but House Rules Chairman David Lewis may have spilled the beans when he told reporters that the Assembly could move to limit the power of incoming Governor-elect Roy Cooper.
“I think to be candid with you, that you will see the General Assembly look to reassert its constitutional authority in areas that may have been previously delegated to the executive branch,” Lewis said, adding that legislators will “work to establish that we are going to continue to be a relevant party in governing this state.”
Regardless, the North Carolina Governor has less power than the average Governor in other states across the country. After all, the state’s Governorship was the last state chief executive in the country to gain veto power, when the General Assembly gave the power to the Governor in 1996.
Overall, the Governor does have extensive appointment power of executive branch officials, some judges, and members of boards and commissions, as was evident when Cooper appointed an anti-military radical to serve as senior advisor in his upcoming administration.
When reporters on the scene asked Representative Lewis if the legislature would look to change the governor’s appointment powers, such as election board appointments, he was quoted as saying, “I think you’re on the right track, but I would not be able to comment on specifics.”
According to the News & Observer, both House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger both declined to comment, after specifics were supposedly discussed in a closed door meeting of Republican leaders Wednesday afternoon.
“There are a number of things that have been talked about,” Berger said. “I am not in a position at this point to list or specifically articulate what they are because no decisions have been made, finally as to what exactly will be brought up.”
In order to call Thursday’s special session, three-fifths of the House and Senate had to sign a petition, a relatively easy task for the legislature to take up with the Republican super majority dominating both bodies.
Of course, Democrats are throwing fits over the special session
“This ain’t right,” said House Democratic Leader Larry Hall of Durham. “You can’t make it right. The people of North Carolina aren’t being treated right. We owe them more.”
Speaker Moore did indicate that there were two specific bills the Republicans will pursue, but again, refused to provide specifics.
“We’re looking at two bills at this point, but it depends what other bills folks file,” he said. “I can’t (explain) until it goes through the caucus process. Some of the ideas that we were discussing at the end of the last session are some of the ideas that you may see come up today.”
Once again, when asked about a “court packing” scheme, Moore said it wouldn’t happen, despite all the pushing from Democrats and the media.
“I do not expect to see the court packing that people are talking about,” he said.
There does seem to be some confusion as to when the session will end, with the Speaker saying he expected to be wrapped up Thursday, and Senate Leader Berger said it should be ‘the end of the week.’