Raleigh, N.C. — A little more than 12 hours before a three-judge panel starts considering the constitutionality of a couple of new state laws, including one requiring Senate confirmation of all cabinet appointees, the Senate confirmed the first of Gov. Roy Cooper's cabinet members on Monday night.
Former state Rep. Larry Hall, D-Durham, was confirmed as secretary of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs by a 47-0 vote after a brief floor debate. The ease of his confirmation is in stark contrast to the sniping and legal wrangling that led up to it, and Cooper has asked the Senate to subpoena all other members of his cabinet for confirmation hearings so as not to appear to lend credence to the process.
The Senate also approved a measure to make the election of trial court judgeships partisan races again. Lawmakers removed the party labels from judge's names on the ballot in the 1990s to try to take politics out of judicial elections, but Republican backers of the new legislation said all it has done is deprive voters of information they want.
Meanwhile, the House passed a measure that would require active prison time for anyone convicted of felony death by motor vehicle or boat while impaired and a second bill that ups the penalty for vandalizing or damaging fire trucks and other emergency vehicles.
Outside of Raleigh, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest traveled to Austin, Texas, to lend his support for a bill being introduced in that state's legislature to regulate access to public bathrooms.