Senate OKs overhaul of state commissions
Posted February 7, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The state Senate gave final passage Thursday to legislation that would fire all current members of several oversight and advisory boards.
Senate Bill 10 passed 35-14 and was sent to the House, where Republican leaders have already expressed skepticism about it.
"The House Republicans have grave concerns about that bill," House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes said. "We're going to be deliberative in our approach to it."
The bill, which sailed through the Senate in about 48 hours, would effectively fire all members of the Utilities Commission, Environmental Management Commission, Coastal Resources Commission, Lottery Commission and Wildlife Resources Commission.
Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican lawmakers would then be able to reappoint board members who agree with their philosophy, essentially clearing out Democrats and other dissenters whose terms haven't yet expired.
The bill would also abolish several other boards and commissions, including the Charter School Advisory Committee, the Lottery Oversight Commission, the Turnpike Authority and the Board of Correction, and would eliminate 12 special Superior Court judgeships.
Democrats tried unsuccessfully Wednesday to pare back the scope of the bill, and some Republicans joined Democrats in questioning the constitutionality of lawmakers removing judges.
Those questions were obviously settled Wednesday night because the issue didn't resurface Thursday morning. The only changes to the bill, which were unanimously approved, included allowing the State Highway Patrol commander to come from within the agency's ranks and adding two at-large appointees to the state Board of Transportation.