Raleigh, N.C. — A bill giving Gov. Pat McCrory more flexibility to hire and fire state workers is sitting in legislative limbo, despite backing from the State Employees Association of North Carolina, the largest union of state workers.
SEANC opposed the bill when it was heard by the House earlier this year because, according to the organization, it subjected too many workers to hiring and firing at political whim.
"The governor and I and the Senate leadership and the House leadership have all sat down at the table and negotiated the entire bill, came up with a resolution and it's ready to go," SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope said.
The number of "exempt" employees that the governor can hire or fire at will will still rise from a current ceiling of 1,000 to 1,500. But other state employees would still have access to much the same appeals process they have now, Cope told WRAL-TV's Cullen Browder.
But the measure, House Bill 834, has been sitting for two weeks in the Senate Clerk's office, a limbo between committees that might hear and change the bill, and the Senate floor, which could send it forward on its legislative journey. That's despite pleading from McCrory, a Republican, who has asked his fellow members of the GOP for the bill.
"We think it's right, but we want the lawyers to sign off on it," Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, the Senate Rules chairman, said with a grin.
The measure likely shares a similar fate with a bill redrawing how the Commerce Department works. Both are bills McCrory has declared key priorities and both have been on hold for roughly two weeks.
It's worth noting that McCrory is a key player in tax and budget negotiations with the House and Senate. Withholding passage of unrelated bills that are key priorities for those you are negotiating with is a time-honored legislative tactic. And McCrory's budget and tax proposals have much more closely lined up with the House position than proposals put forward by the Senate. That may have lead the Senate to seek some extra leverage in the discussions.