Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina governors would have more latitude to hire and fire state workers under a bill that cleared the state House Wednesday.
The measure, which now goes to the state Senate, will give the governor 1,500 political "at will" appointees. Until this year, governors had only 400 appointees. Lawmakers raised that limit to 1,000 last year, in time for Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, to take office.
"You're getting down now into the rank-and-file employees, and you're politicizing their positions," said Rep. Yvonne Holley, D-Wake, who is herself a retired state worker. She offered an amendment to keep the number of exempt employees at 1,000.
Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash, who authored the bill, said that the State Employees Association of North Carolina never raised an objection to raising the number of exempt employees.
Lawmakers turned back that amendment, as well as others sent forward by Democrats.
SEANC representatives have said they object to provisions that curtail the ability of state employees to formally complain they were not hired because they lost out to a less qualified but more politically connected individual.