Legislature asks court to affirm new ethics and elections board

Christine T. Nguyen | The North State Journal
The North Carolina Senate convenes at the N.C. General Assembly.

RALEIGH — N.C. legislative leaders filed a request that a three-judge panel and the N.C. Court of Appeals affirm that Senate Bill 68 complies with the law and to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Governor Roy Cooper. The filings come the day after the N.C. Senate voted to override Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 68. The bill creates an ethics and elections enforcement board with eight members, half Democrats and half Republicans, all appointed by the governor.Senate Bill 68 was a second attempt by the Republican-led General Assembly to reform the State Board of Elections after Cooper sued and a judicial panel ruled a previous bill violated the constitutionally mandated separation of powers. Tuesday’s filing requests that the same three-judge panel vacate their prior ruling. Lawmakers adjusted the legislation to address judges concerns. In addition to giving Cooper the appointment powers, a simple majority vote — down from a supermajority of six to just five out of eight — would now be required to make decisions regarding elections and ethics issues, a move legislators hope will encourage bipartisan cooperation.”It is ironic that Gov. Cooper lectured the legislature about pursuing ‘partisan power grabs’ when he vetoed a bill creating a bipartisan board to ensure our ethics and elections laws are enforced fairly — and for no other reason than to strengthen his own political advantage,” said Senate Rules Committee Chairman Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) in a statement following the override vote. “I am confident this change — which actually answers the court’s call to let the governor make all appointments to that board — is a step in the right direction for North Carolina.”However, Cooper said the issue will go back to court. Following his veto last week Cooper threatened to sue again if the legislature should override his veto.