A dispute between the governor and some Republican lawmakers over who appoints members of an unemployment benefits appeals board appears headed toward a resolution with the Senate’s initial approval Thursday.
Added to a bill changing the unemployment insurance system, the provision leaves the appointment of the three-member Board of Review in the governor’s hands.
The board was created by a 2011 law, replacing the system in which appeals were heard by the Division of Employment Security. But delays and a change in administrations meant Gov. Pat McCrory didn’t make appointments until last December, after Sen. Bob Rucho, a Republican from Matthews, publicly complained that McCrory was dragging his feet.
A legislative committee this year recommended the General Assembly make two of the appointments, which McCrory opposed. The bill leaves those appointments to the governor but allows the General Assembly to do it if the governor isn’t timely.
House Bill 1069 also staggers the terms of the board members.
The bill won tentative approval 39-5. The Senate will vote on it again next week and then return it to the House.
Senate votes for 3-judge panel
Updating how business-related lawsuits are handled in North Carolina is the intent of a bill that tentatively passed the Senate on Thursday.
Senate Bill 853 would send more cases to the N.C. Business Court, which handles complex commercial cases, and require that appeals from its decisions go directly to the state Supreme Court instead of the Court of Appeals, as they do now.
Sen. Tamara Barringer, a Republican from Cary, said parts of the bill were modeled after Delaware’s business court. The goal of North Carolina’s version is to develop a body of case law to guide businesses.
Barringer says the bill was drawn up with input from trial lawyers, social justice advocates, courts administrators, law professors and others.
The bill ran into turbulence in a judiciary committee on Wednesday because a provision was added to create a three-judge panel to hear constitutional challenges to laws passed by the General Assembly – a provision that has nothing to do with business court.
The identical provision is in another bill and in the proposed budget, with Senate backers saying they want to ensure it passes this session. They contend such a panel would prevent plaintiffs from shopping for sympathetic judges.
The bill passed the committee on a split vote, and won tentative approval in the Senate on a vote of 45-0. A final vote will be next week, before the bill goes to the House.