News: Quick Takes

Cooper cites Florence, court order; re-establishes six state agencies

Gov. Roy Cooper in June 2018. (CJ photo by Dan Way)
Gov. Roy Cooper in June 2018. (CJ photo by Dan Way)

Gov. Roy Cooper says the urgency of dealing with Hurricane Florence recovery led him to sign executive orders re-establishing six state agencies tied up in litigation with the General Assembly.

The Democratic governor’s office said in a written statement Monday his actions involve the Clean Water Management Trust Fund Board of Trustees; Parks and Recreation Authority; Private Protective Services Board; State Building Commission; Child Care Commission; and Rural Infrastructure Authority.

The boards and commissions were part of a lawsuit Cooper brought in May 2017 against Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Moore, R-Cleveland. The governor contended the lawmakers violated separation of powers by radically changing the structure and composition of key boards and commissions.

“Because, in part, of the widespread damage wrought by this storm, it is urgent that the Governor’s Office take swift action to reconstitute these boards and commissions so they can conduct the state’s business,” the release said. Several have meetings scheduled in the coming weeks that directly affect North Carolinians recovering from Hurricane Florence.

The release said the State Building Commission should receive briefings on emergency repair work and the Rural Infrastructure Authority must consider JDIG grants to economic development projects in disaster counties.

A spokesman for Berger said the office wouldn’t respond tonight. An attempt to get comment from Moore wasn’t successful.

The executive orders signed today can be found here:

On Aug. 31, a three-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court declared the statutes unconstitutional because they gave a majority of the appointments to legislative leaders instead of the governor, shifting control over executive branch agencies to the legislative branch.

The ruling was based on a 2016 state Supreme Court decision saying the governor must have sufficient control over executive boards and commissions by appointing a majority of their members.

But the panel’s decision left those agencies unable to operate. Legislative leaders said they would address the judges’ ruling when the General Assembly returns to session Nov. 27.

Cooper used identical language in each executive order to explain the need for the agencies: “The statutes challenged in this lawsuit prevent the Governor from performing his core function under the North Carolina Constitution to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’”

The release said the six executive orders comply with state law and the August court order. The powers and duties of the boards and commissions were unchanged. The executive orders only alter the number of appointments allotted to the legislative and executive branches.