WASHINGTON ― North Carolina Governor-elect Roy Cooper (D) doesn’t have time for the “partisan, political games” being played by state Republicans.
Republican lawmakers hastily introduced Senate Bill 4 and House Bill 17 in the state legislature late Wednesday night. Both bills would heavily limit the governor’s power if passed. The incoming governor would not be able to make appointments to certain departments, the State Board of Elections would be effectively rendered useless and potentially unconstitutional bills would be more difficult to challenge in the courts.
But Cooper made it clear during a press conference on Thursday that if he believes any legislation pushed by the Republican-controlled state Congress is unconstitutional, he will sue the parties responsible.
“They will see me in court,” he said. “And they don’t have a very good track record there.”
Republicans could hinder a multitude of public efforts with these bills, depending on which cabinet appointments they decide to revoke from Cooper.
“Most people might think this is a partisan power grab, but it is really more ominous,” Cooper said. “It’s really about hurting public education, working families, state employees, health care and clean air and water.”
He said that taking away the governor’s ability to make decisions on education policy could lead to public education being defunded and more emphasis being placed on private school vouchers.
Similarly, if Cooper can’t appoint the leader of the state Department of Commerce, the result could be tax hikes for the middle class and small businesses. And if Cooper can’t select the head of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services, it could lead to the end of Medicaid expansion, which could particularly hurt more rural parts of the state.
Cooper said he’s open to working with Republicans, but said they’d have to find something else to agree on other than removing money from public education or harming the public’s health.
“Regardless of if any of this legislation passes, I will use all of our tools ― and we have a lot ― to lead this state in the right direction,” he said.