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Today@NCCapitol (Feb. 22): Lawmakers, governor head toward second confirmation showdown

Posted February 22
Updated March 22

This is a shot of the entrance area to the N.C. Legislative Building.

— Wednesday brings another showdown at the confirmation corral, with state senators aiming to bring in the desperados in Gov. Roy Cooper's cabinet for a hearing,

Senators on the Commerce and Insurance Committee have scheduled an 11 a.m. meeting to interview Military and Veterans Affairs Secretary Larry Hall, but Cooper says they are acting prematurely and, in a letter to Senate Rules Chairman Bill Rabon, says lawmakers are acting "contrary to the court's order."

TheWrap@NCCapitol (Feb. 21, 2017) Tuesday Wrap: A tiff here, a tiff there Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said Tuesday he expects Hall to show up regardless.

"We expect that the committee will have an opportunity to go through the process of reviewing his qualifications, making determinations as to his fitness for holding the position he’s been nominated to," Berger said. "After the committee makes a recommendation, that'll go back to the Nominations Committee, and it'll go from the Nominations Committee to the floor."

This conflict dates to a pair of laws the General Assembly passed in December limiting Cooper's power. The one in question subjects his cabinet appointments to confirmation by the Senate, something that has never been done before. Cooper has sued to stop that and other portions of the law. While a trial has been scheduled for March, a three-judge panel overseeing the case refused to grant an injunction blocking the hearings.

However, Cooper and lawmakers have a different read on what that pre-trial order said. Lawmakers believe they have the all clear to proceed with hearings, while Cooper points to language in the order that appears to say senators should hold off.

When lawmakers attempted to hold a hearing earlier this month, Hall was a no-show for the showdown. Given Cooper's letter, it seems unlikely he'll saddle up for Wednesday's hearing.

Watch live: WRAL.com will carry the confirmation hearing live online at 11 a.m. Then at high noon, we'll have a livestream of the House floor as lawmakers take up a bill to make races for Superior Court and District Court judges partisan again.

Also on tap: No bills are scheduled to be heard on the Senate floor Wednesday. For a full rundown of other meetings, the General Assembly publishes a full legislative calendar daily.

Bill filings: Among the bills filed Tuesday were a handful of proposals for constitutional amendments, including:

  • House Bill 148: Eliminating the literacy test for voting
  • House Bill 147: Eliminating a section that prohibits North Carolina from seceding
  • House Bill 146: Making clear that citizens owe allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, but not necessarily the federal government
  • House Bill 163: Adding a provision saying that life begins at conception

Program notes: Today@NCCapitol will publish most mornings the legislature is in session with a look ahead for that day's activities if there are substantive hearings or votes planned. Look for TheWrap@NCCapitol, a video recap of legislative business, at the conclusion of most legislative days.

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