The first confirmation hearings will begin this week for Gov. Roy Cooper’s cabinet nominees, as the result of a new law that gives the Senate the power to confirm the governor’s cabinet-level appointments.
HB 17, passed in the fourth special session held last year, included a provision that gave the Senate the privilege of confirming the appointment of the heads of principal state agencies, not including those that are elected positions.
The rationale for giving the Senate the ability is found in the State Constitution in Article III, Sec. 5(8): “The Governor shall nominate and by and with the advice and consent of a majority of the Senators appoint all officers whose appointments are not otherwise provided for.”
In this case, the key phrase is that the Senate has the authority to provide advice, and consent, when it comes to gubernatorial appointments, making any arguments against the legislature’s having the authority to require that Cooper’s nominees jump this hurdle an uphill climb.
In the law there are two ways that a governor’s appointee can be confirmed: First by a simple resolution by the Senate; second, if the Senate is not in session, such recess appointees may only serve until either the Senate votes to disapprove them or the Senate adjourns for more than 30 days, whichever passes first.
Over the rest of the month Cooper’s nominees will face the confirmation process, shedding light as to how the system will work moving forward.
The first confirmation hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday when Rep. Larry Hall (D-Durham) will go before the committee to be confirmed as the head of Military and Veteran Affairs.
Hall served 16 years in the United States Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve as a commissioned officer.
“Larry Hall is a true public servant who understands the issues facing North Carolina military service members and veterans, both from personal experience and as a policy maker,” Cooper said.
Hall spent 10 years in the legislature and has served on the Veterans Affairs Committee. He is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University and earned his law degree at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Next week Machelle Sanders, Cooper’s pick to head the Department of Administration, will face the Senate looking for confirmation.
Sanders held senior leadership positions with Biogen from 2007-2016 and previously worked at Purdue Pharmaceuticals and AkzoNobel. She is a graduate of North Carolina State University, with a master’s of health administration from Pfeiffer University.
“Machelle Sanders has a long track record of making complex organizations run smoothly,” Cooper said. “She’ll help us make state government more organized, efficient and effective.”
Cooper has named Erik Hooks to head up the Department of Public Safety. Hooks has a long history within the State Bureau of Investigation.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in criminal justice as well as a master’s degree in organizational management and research from North Carolina State University.
Tapped to head up the Department of Commerce is Tony Copeland, who previously served as assistant secretary of commerce.
Cooper has put forth Jim Trogdon to head up his Department of Transportation (NCDOT), Trogdon served as chief operating officer for NCDOT before his retirement in 2013, and worked as director of strategic transportation planning for the NC General Assembly. He leaves his current job at SAS Institute as national transportation director to lead NCDOT.
He holds a master’s in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College as well as two civil engineering degrees from NC State University.
Cooper nominated Michael Regan to head up the Department of Environmental Quality.
Regan has a background in environmental work, having served as Southeast regional director of the Environmental Defense Fund and in other positions for the group. He is a graduate of North Carolina A&T University with a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University.
Mandy Cohen is set to head of the Department of Health and Human Services under Cooper.
Cohen’s nomination has already been questioned: She was named head of Cooper’s DHHS while she was overseeing national Medicaid services, even as Cooper is seeking to get Medicaid expanded in the state.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Dr. Cohen to our team,” Cooper said. “Her background as a doctor and common-sense problem solver make her the right person for the job at the right time.”
Cohen said, “As a physician and policy maker I know what a tremendous impact this work has on the lives of people every day. I look forward to working with leaders in the state to bring economic prosperity and health to all people in North Carolina.”
Cohen is a graduate of Cornell University, the Harvard School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine, and trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.