State Politics

Cooper expands lawsuit over power struggle with legislature

Cooper reacts to GOP efforts to limit his power

Video: Governor-elect Roy Cooper tells GOP lawmakers to,"Go home," as they seek to limit the powers of the Governor's office during a special session of the General Assembly in December.
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Video: Governor-elect Roy Cooper tells GOP lawmakers to,"Go home," as they seek to limit the powers of the Governor's office during a special session of the General Assembly in December.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday expanded his lawsuit against Republican leaders of the General Assembly, contending that laws passed in a special session at the end of last year limiting his powers are unconstitutional.

Cooper previously sued over one provision that would combine the elections and ethics boards into a single agency, and restructure membership in the newly consolidated state board as well as county election boards. This expanded lawsuit also challenges what it calls the “unprecedented” provision making the governor’s Cabinet appointments subject to Senate confirmation.

The lawsuit also challenges a provision that drastically reduced the number of state employees who are political appointees and exempt from state personnel protections, as well as a provision that allowed hundreds of those exempt employees to become non-exempt.

Further, Cooper’s suit challenges a provision that allowed the appointment of the spouse of Gov. Pat McCrory’s chief of staff, Yolanda Stith, to the state Industrial Commission for an unprecedented nine-year term. The provision “confers an exclusive privilege upon a single person with no benefit to the general welfare,” the lawsuit reads.

“The legislature’s action during last year’s special session was an unprecedented effort to interfere with the governor’s ability to work on behalf of all North Carolinians and this legal action seeks to overturn it,” Cooper’s spokeswoman Noelle Talley said in a statement Tuesday night.

The General Assembly is scheduled to convene for one day on Wednesday. During that time, the Senate is expected to adopt rules setting forth a process by which to confirm Cabinet secretaries.

Cooper seeks through the lawsuit to have a judge stop the consolidation of the elections and ethics boards, and do away with the Senate confirmation provision. It also challenges a provision that immediately provided personnel protections to mroe than 1,000 of the 1,500 employees who had been exempt from those protections. The legislature slashed the number of political appointees that Cooper could have from 1,500 to 425.

N.C. House Rules Chairman David Lewis explains bills limiting Gov.-elect Roy Cooper's powers that were filed Wednesday at the legislature.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO

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