Governor Roy Cooper

Litigants want NC Supreme Court to rule on GOP power grab session

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Arguably the most blatant abuse of power the NC GOP has engaged in:

Plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of a legislative session Republicans quickly called in 2016 to limit the power of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper before he could take office now want the state's highest court to hear their case.

Lawyers for Common Cause and ten citizens filed an appeal petition with the state Supreme Court on Tuesday, about a month after the Court of Appeals upheld the legality of the three-day session in December 2016. Republicans in charge of the House and Senate approved a pair of measures during the session that weakened Cooper's power as governor.

Understand, then-Governor Pat McCrory had just lost a bitterly-contested election, and NCGA Republicans knew that lame duck would gladly sucker-punch the man who defeated him. And the GOP used human suffering (hurricane relief) to launch a completely inappropriate and ethically void additional "special" session to wrest authority from the Executive and grant it to themselves. And instead of hanging their heads in shame, BergerMoore actually joked about it when questioned by reporters. Forget about political party designations for a moment; this kind of corrupt behavior needs to be checked by the Supreme Court, or the separation of powers framework could very easily collapse, taking the Court with it.

GOP propaganda about tuition cuts for children of veterans way off-base

The blame lies solely on their shoulders:

The DMVA received $9.19 million annually to fund the program, Hall said in a statement Thursday. But last year, he said, the General Assembly allocated an extra $2.4 million to increase the room and board allowance. Hall asked for the same level of funding from legislators for the 2019-20 academic year, according to the statement.

“Despite passing multiple priority funding bills throughout the summer and fall, legislators adjourned without providing additional funds for this program,” he said in the statement. “Recipient institutions were notified of the impact to room and board awards on November 25.”

What was in the Budget hardly matters considering it was Vetoed. But it's that second part that people need to pay attention to. Republicans in the General Assembly passed several "mini-budgets" before throwing in the towel for the year, but the (needed) additional funding for these students didn't make it. You know what did make it? A reduction in the Franchise Tax for businesses (subsequently Vetoed), and an IT funding bill which included $10 million for Montreat College to host a cybersecurity research center it isn't qualified to host:

Drilling down into Gov. Cooper's Veto of Read to Achieve reboot

An expensive boondoggle, by any other name:

The state has put more than $150 million into the program to date, and a study last year by North Carolina State University found no gains for the first year of students involved.

"Teaching children to read well is a critical goal for their future success, but recent evaluations show that Read to Achieve is ineffective and costly," Cooper said in his veto message. "This legislation tries to put a Band-Aid on a program where implementation has clearly failed."

It has failed. Not "performed below our expectations," but failed, miserably. NC State followed two separate cohorts of students who took part in the RtA program, and detected virtually no improvement with them as compared to those who did not take part:

A Cooper Veto of the Budget is exciting pundits

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Concurring on the concurrence is the question:

The length of the 2019 legislative session — outside another rash of extra sessions — could come down to whether Gov. Roy Cooper and Senate Democrats are willing to bog down the state budget process for the sake of inserting some form of Medicaid expansion.

Cooper could also choose to veto the Republicans’ compromise budget bill to highlight disagreements over public education and environmental issues as well.

Maybe even more than the Governor, this is a test of the willpower of NC House Republicans. The Senate's Budget is a stinking mess, and unless the House can wrangle some fairly serious changes, Cooper is going to have to Veto the thing. Don't usually lean on Puppet quotes to drive home a point, but Mitch Kokai makes some good ones:

The right bill for the wrong reason: NC Senate passes whistleblower protections

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Just in time for Sunshine Week:

A bill passed by the N.C. Senate last week to provide greater protections for government whistleblowers is a move in the right direction.

The Protecting Government Accountability Act passed unanimously, 44-0, after adopting two amendments that strengthen it. One requires heads of state agencies, departments and institutions to inform their employees about the law. The other clarifies that the protections cover state employee testimony to agents or employees of legislative inquiry panels appointed by the House speaker or Senate president pro tempore.

The key word there is "agents." They're called "private" investigators for a reason, because they operate outside normal parameters that dictate the behavior of government investigators. The Governor is right to shield state employees from their scrutiny, and to demand the General Assembly get its answers in a formal setting. And as for this observation:

Can Republicans be trusted to keep Special Session free of politics?

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The short answer is "no," but with the election coming up, they may have to:

“The currents will be moving under the surface,” said Gary Pearce, a columnist who was a longtime aide to Jim Hunt, a Democrat who was North Carolina’s longest-serving governor. “You can’t take politics out of anything, and this state is so, so polarized, so politicized, and the last eight years have been so angry and bitter, that even in a disaster like this, it’s going to hard for people to set it aside.”

Few state governments in America have been as divided in recent years as the one in North Carolina, where Democrats and Republicans have regularly fought pitched battles over issues like redistricting, voting rights, bathroom access for transgender people, education, and executive authority.

Republicans take note: When your state-level feud is controversial enough to make the New York Times, you might be tempted to celebrate your success. But voters across the board are extremely tired of such partisan gamesmanship, and they will be watching closely at how you handle recovery efforts after this horrible storm. And thanks to the dynamic campaign of Jen Mangrum, Berger's constituents will be watching closely, too:

Roy Cooper files lawsuit to preserve Separation of Powers

“The General Assembly has proposed two amendments to the North Carolina Constitution that would take a wrecking ball to the separation of powers. These proposed amendments would rewrite bedrock constitutional provisions— including the Separation of Powers Clause itself. They would overrule recent decisions of the North Carolina Supreme Court. They would strip the Governor of his authority to appoint thousands of officials to hundreds of boards and commissions that execute the laws of our State. They would confer exclusive authority on the General Assembly to choose those whom the Governor can consider to fill judicial vacancies. And they ultimately threaten to consolidate control over all three branches of government in the General Assembly.”

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