The Latest: Lawmakers adjourn session curbing gov's powers

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Posted: Dec 16, 2016 5:10 PM
The Latest: Lawmakers adjourn session curbing gov's powers

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on efforts by the North Carolina General Assembly to shift or reduce powers of the new incoming Democratic governor (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

The North Carolina legislature has adjourned its special session in what Democrats and hundreds of protesters says is an unconstitutional power grab by GOP legislators unhappy with the incoming Democratic governor.

Republicans call it a lawful effort to rebalance the branches of government before a new administration takes office. Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper takes office in two weeks.

The Republican-controlled legislature passed two bills — one has already been signed by outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory. It merges the State Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission into one panel and prevents Cooper from putting a Democratic majority on the state elections board in 2017.

The other bill presented to McCrory would force Cooper's Cabinet choices to face Senate confirmation.

Before adjourning, lawmakers confirmed a state commission appointment for the wife of McCrory's chief of staff.

More than 50 protesters were arrested Thursday and Friday for disturbing House and Senate floor sessions.

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3 p.m.

North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has quickly signed into law a GOP-backed bill that would strip the incoming Democratic governor of some of his powers.

Documents from General Assembly staff confirm the outgoing governor signed the measure Friday afternoon, shortly after the legislature's final vote. Democrats argue this and another piece of legislation is a power grab by the GOP after McCrory lost the gubernatorial election to Democrat Roy Cooper, who takes office Jan. 1.

The law merges the State Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission into one board comprised equally of Democrats and Republicans. The previous state elections board law would have allowed Cooper to put a majority of Democrats on the panel.

The law would also make elections for appellate court judgeships officially partisan again.

Another bill nearing final legislative approval would force Cooper's Cabinet choices to be subject to Senate confirmation.

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1:40 p.m.

At least two people have been led away from inside the North Carolina Legislative Building after disruptions caused the state Senate to halt debate on a measure that would shift some powers to Republicans.

Police made the arrests inside the Senate gallery Friday after Lt. Gov. Dan Forest warned the audience above the Senate floor to remain quiet. The Senate resumed debate 30 minutes after the entire gallery was cleared.

General Assembly police say 16 people were arrested earlier Friday during disruptions while the House debated another bill.

Opponents of Republican policies have been demonstrating at the legislature about proposals to reduce the power of Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper, who defeated GOP incumbent Pat McCrory last month.

The legislature wrapped up work on one bill that would make appellate court elections partisan and deny Cooper the ability to put a majority of Democrats on the State Board of Elections.

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12:10 p.m.

At least 10 protesters have been arrested in North Carolina after they disrupted debate over Republican-led legislation that they say will strip powers from the incoming Democratic governor.

House leaders cleared the chamber's gallery Friday while lawmakers discussed a measure that would erase Gov.-elect Roy Cooper's ability to appoint a Democratic majority on the State Board of Elections. The bill also would change the way appellate court judges are elected that could favor Republicans.

At least 10 people were led away with wrists bound in plastic ties as other protesters chanted "all political power comes from the people." Police took some away after they continued to lead vocal protests within the rotunda of the Legislative Building. More than 150 demonstrators remained behind.

General Assembly police arrested 17 protesters Thursday.

The House resumed their debate and passed the measure on a party-line vote.

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11:50 a.m.

North Carolina legislators have resumed debate on Republican legislation that would shift or reduce powers of the governor as a new Democrat takes the job in just two weeks.

The full House took up a Senate bill Friday that would erase Gov.-elect Roy Cooper's ability to appoint a Democratic majority of the five-member State Board of Elections, as current law allows. Cooper narrowly defeated GOP Gov. Pat McCrory last month.

The measure also would make elections for appellate court races officially partisan again. A registered Democrat won a key Supreme Court race this fall, ending nearly 20 years of GOP control of the court.

Democratic Rep. Graig Meyer says Republicans are trying to overturn the will of the voters with the legislation. GOP lawmakers disagree.

Senate committees also have debated a measure that would force Cooper's Cabinet secretaries to receive Senate confirmation.

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4:50 a.m.

North Carolina Republican lawmakers facing a new Democratic governor on Jan. 1 are nearly done taking steps to reduce his power despite demonstrations and threats of litigation.

The GOP-controlled legislature prepared Friday to complete an extraordinary special session and approve bills that would place checks upon Democrat Roy Cooper. The outgoing attorney general edged Republican incumbent Pat McCrory in their election last month.

Legislation that already cleared one chamber scaled back the team Cooper can bring into office, require the Senate's approval for Cabinet secretaries and erase the governor's ability to shape elections boards statewide.

The bills advanced despite raucous protests from hundreds at the legislature opposed to the legislation that led to at least 16 arrests.

McCrory would have to decide whether to sign any final bills.