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Republicans in NC General Assembly propose bills aimed at limiting Cooper's power

The North Carolina General Assembly’s surprise special session continued Thursday as legislators deliberate over bills that would limit Governor-elect Roy Cooper’s powers.

House Bill 17 strips the governor’s office of the power to appoint trustees to the UNC system and require that gubernatorial cabinet appointees undergo confirmation hearings in the N.C. Senate.

Other bills cut the number of positions that work directly for the governor from 1,500 to 300 — meaning those appointed to these positions by Gov. Pat McCrory would remain — and remove the governor’s power to appoint Board of Elections members.

“We have worked to modernize state government, and the high number of exemptions, not used by the current governor, are being restored to a number and level that is consistent with the authority granted to past administrations,” said House Rules Chairman David Lewis, R-Harnett.

Legislators were originally in Raleigh to pass emergency funding for Hurricane Matthew relief, during a special session called for by McCrory.

The relief package was signed by McCrory on Thursday. But a second special session was called for by Republicans on Wednesday to propose the series of bills.

The Republican caucus’ agenda has been criticized by Democrats, including Cooper, who called the action unprecedented.

“If I believe laws passed by the legislature hurt working families and are unconstitutional, they will see me in court,” Cooper said.

Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Durham, said in a Facebook post that the special session was illegal.

“The bill … strips the power of the Governor-elect Cooper just because (Republicans) are mad that he won the election,” Meyer said in the post.

In Raleigh, protesters gathered at the State Capitol on Thursday in objection to the proposed bills.

The protests featured a confrontation between North Carolina NAACP attorney Alan McSurely and North Carolina G.O.P. executive director Dallas Woodhouse during an NAACP press conference.

Karen Anderson, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, likened this special session to the session last year when legislators passed the controversial House Bill 2.

“Such significant changes to our state’s elections and judicial systems should never be planned in secret and sprung on the public without advance notice,” she said in a press release.

“These latest proposals could undercut the civil liberties of all North Carolinians.”

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