Protestors arrested, bills passed in extra legislative session - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Protestors arrested, bills passed in extra legislative session

Lawmakers finished the second day of work at the General Assembly in Raleigh, with Republicans pushing through several bills that Democrats strongly opposed. Lawmakers finished the second day of work at the General Assembly in Raleigh, with Republicans pushing through several bills that Democrats strongly opposed.
RALEIGH, NC (AP/WECT) -

The Latest on the special session being held by the North Carolina General Assembly (all times local):
    
7:30 p.m.

House and Senate Republicans passed several bills and resolutions drawing sharp criticism by Democrats in the second extra legislative session of the week.

House lawmakers passed HB 17, which would make Governor-Elect Roy Cooper’s cabinet appointments subject to approval by the state Senate. The bill also cuts the number of designated “exempt positions” in Cabinet departments and offices from 1,500 to 300. 

The Senate approved SB4, which merges the State Board of Elections with the State Ethics Commission. The bill envisions creating a new eight-member board, with four appointees picked by the governor and the General Assembly. There would be four Democrats and four Republicans. Current law gives a majority of the state elections board's five members to the governor's party.
    
County election boards would become four-member panels, compared to three today.
    
The bill makes elections for the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals seats officially partisan again, with party primaries. It also would direct the Court of Appeals to meet "en banc" with up to 15 judges to rehear cases heard by three-judge panels
        
Both chambers passed bills approving Andrew Heath as a new Special Superior Court Judge. Heath is currently the Budget Director for Governor Pat McCrory.

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6:05 p.m.
    
More protesters have been charged with creating a disturbance during a special session of the North Carolina legislature where Republicans are passing bills that reduce the power of incoming Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
    
General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock said officers on Thursday arrested 16 people who shouted, chanted and refused to leave the House gallery. Speaker Tim Moore ordered the gallery cleared during a disturbance while lawmakers debated a bill that would require Cooper's Cabinet secretaries be confirmed by the Senate.
    
Those arrested were led away in plastic handcuffs. Brock says they would be charged with second-degree trespassing and violating building rules.
    
Hundreds chanted outside the Legislative Building rotunda while the House went into recess during the arrests.
    
The Senate cleared its gallery early Thursday when a disturbance occurred during debate on another measure.

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4:25 p.m.
    
Protesters of plans by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature to reduce upcoming Democratic influence in state government have been removed from the Senate gallery after repeated disruptions during floor debate.
    
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, the Senate's presiding officer, ordered the gallery above the floor be cleared Thursday afternoon after what he considered multiple disturbances.
    
Many spectators had laughed when a Republican made a comment about legislation that would merge the state's elections and ethics boards into a panel evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Without the change Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper would soon appoint a majority of Democrats to the state elections board.
    
Demonstrators continued to chant in the rotunda of the Legislative Building after they were thrown out. No arrests occurred. The Senate went into recess for about a half-hour until they passed the bill along party-lines. The bill now goes to the Senate.
    
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1:15 p.m.
    
People protesting Republican plans to limit Gov.-elect Roy Cooper's power have descended again on the Legislative Building with longshot hopes of derailing the GOP legislation.
    
About 200 demonstrators led by the state NAACP filled a first-floor Legislative Building atrium on Thursday. They demanded loudly that Republicans accept the will of the voters in last month's election and leave Cooper's powers alone. The NAACP and its allies have been protesting against GOP policies on topics like voting rights and Medicaid since 2013.
    
Protester Margaret Toman of Garner says she came because she believes democracy is being undermined by the Republicans.
    
Democratic legislators urged protesters to fight on. Sen. Mike Woodard of Durham said they could make a big difference next fall during a scheduled special election for General Assembly members.
    
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11:40 a.m.
    
Attorney General Roy Cooper says he's ready to fight Republican legislation moving through the General Assembly's special session that would hobble the Democrat when he becomes governor in a few weeks.
    
Cooper said Thursday he'll sue lawmakers if he thinks laws they're passing are unconstitutional or hurt working people.
    
Cooper lashed out against proposed legislation aimed at preventing him from shaving away at recent GOP initiatives. Cooper says while Republican lawmakers aim to cripple his powers, the effect is to protect programs that transfer taxpayer money to private schools, allow increased pollution of air and water, and cut taxes for big corporations instead of the middle class.
    
Cooper promised he'd fight the proposed legislation that he called "unprecedented.
    
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11:20 a.m.
    
Legislation pushed by North Carolina's Republican dominated legislature aimed at limiting Democrat Roy Cooper's powers when he becomes governor next month has cleared several General Assembly committees.
    
A Senate panel approved a bill Thursday that would merge North Carolina's elections and ethics panels. Current law would give Cooper control over the State Board of Elections and allow a majority of Democrats on it. The proposed board would be split between Democrats and Republicans and allow lawmakers to choose half the members.
    
GOP Sen. Tommy Tucker says the bill would take partisanship out of administering elections, but Democratic Sen. Floyd McKissick says the legislation is an attempt to deny the governor power he currently has.
    
A House committee also approved a bill Thursday making Cooper's Cabinet choices subject to Senate confirmation.
    
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. WECT contributed to this report.

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