State Republican lawmakers have tried to limit the governor’s executive power through various bills. In their latest attempt, Republicans have introduced a bill that would strip away the governor’s ability to appoint State Board of Education members and fill vacancies on the Council of State and in the courts, according to WRAL.
Since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Republican-majority state legislations across the nation, including in North Carolina, have increasingly drafted or passed bills to limit their governor’s emergency powers, executive orders and sought out laws to expand legislative oversight.
House Bill 17 is no different, however, with a newly elected conservative-led state Supreme Court, Republicans may have a more favorable outcome for their controversial bill.
Under the measure, members of the State Board of Education would be elected by congressional districts drawn by the Republican majority at the state legislature. Maps drawn by this body have repeatedly been struck down in court for gerrymandering to give their party an unfair advantage.
In response to Republicans’ latest push to strip away powers, Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement that underscored GOP lawmakers’ use of the bill to turn public schools “into another political and cultural battlefield.”
“The constitutional amendment in House Bill 17 is a blatant attempt to have radical right-wing politicians run our public schools rather than educators and experts,” Cooper said. “It would result in extremists calling the shots for our students and educators.”
House Bill 17 is one of many examples of Republicans attempting to exert power and influence on the different branches of government.
Amid a national trend spearheaded by Republicans to censor classroom discussions surrounding race and gender identity, banning Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ authored books, and targeting educators, state Republicans’ eagerness to change the State Board of Education raises concerns.
“I think the governor looks across the state to these districts to find the best educational leaders he can with the confirmation of the General Assembly,” Rep. Marcia Morey, a Durham Democrat, told The News & Observer. “I’m very worried about taking away that responsibility of the governor, putting it into another partisan political race.”