Under the Dome

Coble changes ‘misleading’ name of department at NC legislature

Paul Coble, who used to chair the Wake County Board of Commissioners, is making changes at the N.C. General Assembly in his new job running day-to-day operations there.
Paul Coble, who used to chair the Wake County Board of Commissioners, is making changes at the N.C. General Assembly in his new job running day-to-day operations there. tiwabu@newsobserver.com

Former Wake County Commissioner Paul Coble is already making his mark on the N.C. General Assembly’s inner workings.

Coble, who was appointed the legislative services officer in August, said he’ll be changing the name of the legislature’s nonpartisan Research Division – a few months after the division’s longtime leader abruptly left.

“I believe that the name Research Division is both inaccurate and misleading,” Coble wrote in an email announcing the change. “The primary function of the division is to serve as committee counsel/staff, and to provide legal and policy analysis of proposed or existing legislation. The name of the division should accurately reflect its role and distinguish it from other divisions and departments within the General Assembly.”

Coble says he’ll soon change the name to Legislative Analysis Division on signs and directories around the building. “The division will continue to carry out its important mission to provide professional, confidential, nonpartisan legal analysis and advice to all members of the General Assembly and to legislative committees,” he wrote.

Until late October, the 50-employee division was headed by O. Walker Reagan, who’d worked there since 1992.

Reagan was replaced in his job as director on Oct. 28, and a week later, the human resources department said his employment status was “undetermined” and he’d neither quit nor been fired.

Reagan retired from the legislature effective Dec. 4, human resources director Carolyn Hunt said in an email Monday. Reagan could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Karen Cochrane-Brown, another longtime attorney in the Research Division, currently holds Reagan’s old position.

Coble, a Republican, was appointed by Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore in August to lead the legislature’s staff and operations.

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