Raleigh, N.C. — A House budget provision moving the State Bureau of Investigation from the state Department of Justice to the Department of Public Safety moved forward at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Justice and Public Safety meeting Tuesday.
The House spending plan would keep the State Crime Lab under the Department of Justice, unlike the Senate budget which called for it to also be shifted to DPS.
The controversial move would shift control of the SBI away from state Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat widely expected to run against Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in 2016.
House members said the move would streamline the state law enforcement process by gathering its law enforcement agencies under one umbrella. The House budget would also place the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission under the domain of DPS.
“At a local government level, the sheriff doesn’t work for the DA,” said Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford, the subcommittee’s chairman. “We need to make this move now in the interest of moving forward with a consolidated law enforcement function.”
Faircloth acknowledged the controversy surrounding the move but said it would make more sense to keep law enforcement agencies together.
“There are two schools of thought, we realize that,” he said.
The subcommittee also approved four amendments that made minor tweaks to the budget, including one that limits total fees to $5,000 for companies producing hazardous materials.
“I think it’s important to send that message to the business community that we’re not putting an open-ended fee out there,” said Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland, who proposed the amendment.