RALEIGH, NC (AP/WECT) - The Latest on the special session being held by the North Carolina General Assembly (all times local):
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.
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.