The legislature returned to Raleigh for the fourth time since adjourning the long session this summer, which was focused on considering Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of SB 656: Electoral Freedom Act of 2017. Meanwhile, Gov. Cooper issued an executive order that expands non-discrimination protections for some state employees.
From the Governor’s Office
On Wednesday, Gov. Cooper signed Executive Order No. 24: Policies Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation in State Employment, Services, and Contracts Under the Jurisdiction of the Office of the Governor, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, color, ethnicity, sex, National Guard or veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity for state agencies under the Governor’s authority and businesses that contract with those agencies. The impacted agencies employ a combined 55,000 people and contract with more than 3,000 vendors. In his corresponding blog post, Gov. Cooper states that Executive Order No. 24 will “make our state a more inclusive place and strengthen our economy.”
Special Session Report
The legislature returned to Raleigh earlier this week to consider SB 656: Electoral Freedom Act of 2017, which was passed by both chambers earlier this month, and then vetoed by Gov. Cooper. The bill eases the requirements for ballot access third party and unaffiliated candidates and eliminates primaries for judicial offices in 2018. The motion to override SB 656 passed the Senate 26-15, with two Republicans joining the Democratic caucus to oppose the motion, while two Democrats joined the Republicans in a 72-40 vote to override the veto in the House.
Additionally, Senate Rules Chairman Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) introduced SB 698: Increase Voter Accountability of Judges on Tuesday. If passed, the bill would ask voters to amend the state’s constitution to create two-year terms for all judges and justices. Presently, District Court judges serve four-year terms, while justices of the Supreme Court, and judges of the Court of Appeals and Superior Court serve eight-year terms. Constitutional amendments must be passed by both chambers and then approved by voters through a referendum in a general election.
The legislature plans to reconvene for another special session on January 10, 2018.