Bill altering NCDOT board becomes law

The N.C. Senate on Tuesday July 24, 2018. David Larson, North State Journal

RALEIGH — A bill that gives legislative leaders more involvement in overseeing the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has become law without Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature.

The Democratic governor had until Sunday night to act on the measure, but Cooper announced earlier in the day he would neither sign nor veto it.
The new law lets legislative leaders pick six of 20 Board of Transportation members. Until now, all 19 voting members have been chosen by the governor. Republican lawmakers say more people with different perspectives are needed on a panel that had become more ceremonial.

The bill passed after a number of concerns were raised by an audit of the department. The audit showed gross overspending for 2019 of more than $742 million and lack of internal spending controls. The legislation also makes department cuts to address a cash shortage that worsened when highway revenues plummeted with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cooper had warned GOP lawmakers last month against a “power grab” in the NCDOT funding measure. But Democrats in the legislature didn’t speak out against the governing changes.

In a statement, Cooper said he remain concerned about the board governance changes and public transit funding reductions, which “distract from the work we must be doing together” to maintain roads and infrastructure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.