House Republicans are taking another run at combining the State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission into one bipartisan board after a recent court decision shot down a similar change.
The bill, SB68, passed the House Elections and Finance committee quickly on Tuesday after a school attendance bill was gutted and replaced in the House Rules Committee.
The bill passed in a 68-42 vote after about an hour of debate on the issue Thursday afternoon with Democrats opposing the bill on the grounds that, they say, it runs afoul of Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive authority.
Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) chairs the House Rules Committee and stripped and replaced the bill with the language that would create the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.
Cooper took the state to court over the organization of the board, which gave the legislature half of the nominees on the board, an authority that has traditionally rested entirely with the governor.
The court agreed with Cooper. In response the new legislation gives all of that authority to the governor, but the pool of candidates to choose from will be submitted by the legislature and will be split evenly between the two largest parties in the state.
Only a simple majority would be required for issues surrounding elections while a super-majority vote would be required for ethics cases, as the law reflects currently.
The legislation would also add a member to each county board of elections, which currently sit at three members, to ensure an equal split between the parties.
The Court ruled in Cooper’s favor in the case of combining the two bodies but ruled in favor of the state when it came to Senate oversight of cabinet nominees.
Both decisions are expected to be appealed.
The bill will now head to the Senate for consideration.