Raleigh, N.C. — Proposed budgets put forward by both the House and the Senate would make changes to the state Human Relations Commission, including eliminating its director.
The Human Relations Commission works to ensure equal opportunity in employment, housing, public accommodations, recreation, education, justice and governmental services. Lawmakers want to move the commission from the state Department of Administration to the Office of Administrative Hearings, which reviews state regulations, handles some lawsuits against state agencies and investigates allegations of unlawful employment practices in state government.
Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, chairman of the General Government Appropriations subcommittee, said the director's position has been vacant, and the director of the OAH's Civil Rights Division could easily oversee the commission's operations.
The position hasn't been vacant since the beginning of the month, however, when Betty Marrow-Taylor was appointed to fill it.
Alexandra Mendoza, a spokeswoman for the Department of Administration, said officials have been trying to fill the position since February, and the department has no record of lawmakers calling to inquire about its status as they drafted the budget.
"The North Carolina Human Relations Commission is one of the state’s critical advocacy programs," Secretary of Administration Machelle Sanders said in a statement. "The staff of nine employees provide life-changing services to the citizens of North Carolina, including programs to improve community relations and reduce housing discrimination. With a continuously rising number of cases, a complete staff is necessary to make sure these valuable resources and services are accessible to the citizens who need them most."