Republican lawmakers, McCrory tussle over board that reviews jobless benefit claims

dranii@newsobserver.comMay 9, 2014 

— The state Board of Review, an otherwise obscure board that handles appeals of unemployment board decisions, has once again become a point of contention between top Republican lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory.

A legislative oversight committee has endorsed a bill that would wrest from the governor the sole authority to appoint the board’s three members. Instead, the bill calls for the leaders of the Senate and House and the governor to each appoint one member.

The bill would also disrupt the terms of existing board members, who were only appointed to their four-year terms at the end of last year. The bill would stagger the terms of the board members, with the term of one of the board members set to expire at the end of next month and a second expiring June 30, 2015.

“The governor has told me and asked me to relay to you that he opposes changing the terms of his appointees to this committee,” Dale Folwell, head of the N.C. Division of Employment Security, told lawmakers at Friday’s meeting of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance. “The Board of Review is working well and doing a good job and needs no interruptions.”

Folwell also noted that board members had resigned from other jobs when they accepted their appointments to the board.

The board reviews decisions on unemployment benefits made by Employment Security. Its decisions, in turn, are subject to review by the courts.

Last year committee co-chair Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, and other committee members criticized McCrory for dragging his feet and failing to meet the Sept. 1 deadline for appointing board members. McCrory appointed the board in December.

The issue of the governor’s tardiness was raised again on Friday.

“My question is, why did the governor not make the appointments in a timely manner as required by law?” said Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell.

Nevertheless, Rucho and co-chair Rep. Julia Howard, R-Mocksville, said after the meeting that the bill wasn’t a rebuke aimed at McCrory.

Both legislators also said they had no complaints about the way the review board was operating.

“I’ve heard pretty good reports,” Rucho said. “I understood they are doing a remarkably good job.”

Rucho said the impetus for the bill was to have board appointments conform with the way members of other state boards, such as the state Utilities Commission, are chosen.

The members of the Board of Review are Jeanette Dornan, the chairman, former director and general counsel for the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law; Keith Holliday, former president and CEO of the Carolina Theatre of Greensboro; and Stanley Campbell, previously a senior forensic accountant and a member of the Charlotte City Council.

Under the bill, Holliday’s term would expire June 30; Campbell’s term would expire June 30, 2015; and Dornan’s term would expire June 30, 2017.

Ranii: 919-829-4877

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