Raleigh, NC - The North Carolina State Senate passed a bill earlier this month that would give Gov. Pat McCrory sole power to appoint members of some of the state's most influential commissions, as a result making Gov. McCrory one of the most powerful Governor's in North Carolina history.
Senate Bill 10, passed largely on party lines, immediately ends the terms of commissioners on five state commissions and gives Gov. McCrory the power to then appoint all of the new members.
The commissioner's terms who would end immediately sit on the Coastal Resources Commission, the Utilities Commission, the Wildlife Resources Commission, the State Lottery Commission and the Environmental Management Commission.
The terms of the commissioners are currently staggered, according to state law, to prevent a commission from being dominated by appointees from a single administration.
Elon University Political Science Professor Jason Husser told News 2 it is an unusual move for the General Assembly to give the Governor more power. The reason, Husser said, is "They are trying to align the people sitting on these boards and commissions, largely appointed by years of Democratic Governor's, with more conservative members in line with our new state Government."
The firing off all Utilities Commissioners has state Democrats especially angry because of the commissions power to regulate all state utilities.
The utilities commission will consider rate increases requested by both Duke Energy and Progress Energy later this year, a fact that has Democrats pointing to Governor McCrory's 28 year history with Duke Energy as a conflict of interest.
The Raleigh News Observer reports Sen. Minority Whip Josh Stein (D, Wake) as telling the committee, "Look, the won, I understand the Gov. McCrory gets to make appointments. But, their throwing the entire thing out so they can put in their folks is just wrong."
Republicans counter that this bill is making state government more efficient, while also aligning boards and commissions views with the new Republican majority in Raleigh.
Senator Bill Rabon, (R), according to the News Observer, told the State's Senate Rules Committee that this legislation would have the boards and commission run by people who, "are more like-minded and willing to carry out the philosophy of the new administration."
The bill is currently with the State House. If approved, it would head to the Governor's desk for his signature.