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Lawmakers Vote for Two More Measures to Strip Cooper's Power

Jeremy Loeb/BPR
Governor Roy Cooper

The General Assembly has passed legislation to reduce the number of North Carolina Court of Appeals judges from 15 to 12, sending the measure to the governor.

The House and Senate both gave their final approval to the Republican legislation on Tuesday.

The measure would phase out the three judgeships as vacancies arise through retirements or resignations. The proposal also would allow more matters be appealed directly to the state Supreme Court.

Critics say the measure is meant to keep Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper from filling those vacancies, one of which is a retirement expected in May.

But Republican supporters argue that the measure is good policy because the workload of the Court of Appeals has fallen in recent years.

Meanwhile, Republican legislators have for a second time voted to dilute the power of Cooper to run elections.

The state House and Senate voted separately Tuesday to Cooper's power to oversee elections by appointing state and county elections board that settle disputes and enforce ballot laws. The state elections board has since 1901 had five members appointed by the governor, with the majority being members of the governor's party.

Republicans would lead the new eight-member elections board during presidential and gubernatorial election years.

A judicial panel ruled last month that lawmakers' first effort to take away Cooper's control over elections was unconstitutional.

Cooper has promised to veto the new legislation, but Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in the Legislature.

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