NC Republican lawmakers in both legislative chambers unanimously approved a bill that would require the governor to get approval from a majority of the 10-member Council of State for any emergency actions that last more than 7 days. HB 264, the latest effort by Republicans to limit the governor’s emergency powers, faces a likely veto.
On Friday, NC Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Dist. 47) filed two bills designating official redistricting maps, one for the NC Senate and the other for the 14 US House seats. The official map for NC House seats is expected to be available early this week, and the NC House could offer an alternative congressional map as well. All of the proposed maps would give Republicans a significant partisan advantage in elections over the next decade if voting patterns in the state remain the same. Redistricting committees from both legislative chambers plan to meet Monday to discuss any final changes to the maps before passing on the proposals to the full state House and Senate for final approval. Gov. Cooper has no authority to veto the proposed maps if they pass the Republican-controlled legislature.
On Friday, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) filed suit in Wake County Superior Court on behalf of the state NAACP, Common Cause NC and several individual voters seeking to block the implementation of any new redistricting maps that were drawn without consideration of racial data. SCSJ attorney Allison Riggs said that racially polarized voting must be assessed before drawing districts in order to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act. Earlier, the Princeton Gerrymandering Project had described at least four congressional redistricting maps proposed by NC Senate Republicans as highly partisan based on the Project’s mathematical models, and NC Senate Democrats had already said legal challenges to these maps were inevitable and would result in the state wasting millions of dollars defending the maps.
NC Superior Court Judge David Lee extended until Nov. 8 the deadline for state legislators to indicate how they will fund the long-delayed Leando Comprehensive Remedial Plan for equitable public education. The deadline was extended to allow more time for plaintiffs in the case to give him a proposal for actions the court should take if the state does not meet the plan’s requirements.
Economic and Health Care Policy
Following a Friday meeting, Governor Cooper and state legislative leaders said a compromise budget is nearing completion. Increased funding for broadband internet expansion and capital projects look likely. Differences remain regarding education, healthcare, and corporate tax cuts. Republican House leaders continue to insist they do not have the votes to support Medicaid expansion as part of the budget, although it could be discussed as a separate bill. Once the governor and legislative leaders end their negotiations, the state House and Senate will finalize and vote on a compromise budget bill and send it to the governor. Cooper has said he would veto the bill if he could not support the budget but remains very positive that a veto will not be necessary.