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Appointment process in NC in the news! WOW!

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Easley Uses Veto For First Time In State's History
POSTED: 12:28 p.m. EST November 6, 2002
UPDATED: 12:43 p.m. EST November 6, 2002

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Governor Mike Easley has used gubernatorial veto power for the first time in the state's history.
Easley says he rejected a bill in which the General Assembly appoints people to a number of state commissions.
Veto power was first granted to North Carolina's governor in January 1997.

Easley actually vetoed Senate bill 1283 on Sunday, but didn't announce the decision until Wednesday, according to information on bill action provided by the General Assembly's Web site.
The appointments bill is typically noncontroversial, naming hundreds of people to the advisory commissions that help make policy for state government.
Easley, in a statement, said some appointees do not meet the statutory requirements necessary to serve on the boards. He did not say which appointees he meant.
In his veto message, Easley said two appointees are dead, five aren't qualified and six involve appointments that are required to be made by the governor.
"Many of the boards and commissions were enlarged again this year, continuing a troublesome trend of expanding government in a time when we need to make every effort to be more efficient and lean," he said.
The veto means that the governor will have to call a special legislative session no later than Wednesday, though a majority in the House and Senate could agree that a special session is not needed.
Easley's explanations notwithstanding, Republicans have long speculated that the governor and Democrats would try to find a means to bring the lame-duck Legislature back into session.


From WRAL.com today, 11/06/2002
 

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Governor vetoes first bill
Easley cuts appointments measure, surprising legislative leaders





Easley's veto message is marked with a stamp his office acquired a few months ago.
Staff Photo by Sher Stoneman






WHAT THE NORTH CAROLINA CONSTITUTION SAYS ABOUT VETOES:
The governor must sign or veto a bill within 10 days of receiving it during a legislative session or within 30 days of adjournment. Otherwise, the bill becomes law.

If the governor objects to a bill, he may return it to the General Assembly with a veto message stating his reasons.

The governor then may reconvene the General Assembly to reconsider the bill within 40 days of adjournment. Otherwise, even with the veto, the bill becomes law.

If a majority of lawmakers say in writing that a reconvened session is unnecessary, the vetoed bill does not become law.

A three-fifths majority in both chambers is required to override a veto.

The General Assembly may consider only returned legislation during a reconvened session.

The governor may not veto state or federal constitutional amendments, joint resolutions, redistricting bills or some local bills. The governor also may not veto appointment bills -- unless they contain other matter. The governor would have been prohibited from rejecting this year's appointments bill had it not also expanded some boards and commissions.







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Text of Gov. Mike Easley's objections and veto message







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By AMY GARDNER, Staff Writer

Five years after North Carolinians granted governors veto power, Gov. Mike Easley issued the state's first veto, rejecting an arcane but intensely political bill designating dozens of appointments to boards and commissions.

In a hand-written message punctuated with a large, red veto stamp, Easley cited a series of technical problems with the bill, including the fact that two appointees have since died.

But Easley also said he disapproved of the General Assembly's expansion of some commissions during an ongoing budget crisis, "continuing a troublesome trend of expanding government in a time when we need to make every effort to be more efficient and lean."

That larger point is a symbolic one because many of the dozens of state boards and commissions have small budgets and are financed by fees from the professional licenses they issue.

The point is directed squarely at the governor's Democratic allies in the House and Senate, who wrote the appointments bill and are presumably attached to their choices for boards such as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, a new nine-member toll-road authority and even the state Board of Athletic Trainer Examiners.

GOP is suspicious

The veto came with no warning, and the governor offered no public objections to the bill while lawmakers were debating it. That left both Democrats and Republicans wondering Wednesday why he chose such an obscure and usually noncontroversial measure for the state's first veto.

Republicans questioned whether the governor had an ulterior motive of bringing lawmakers back to town next week for some other issue, such as a lottery or other budget matters.

But Easley spokeswoman Cari Boyce noted that the state constitution prohibits consideration of other matters in a veto session.

"The governor was not going to sign a bill that appointed members to boards and commissions that were not statutorily qualified," Boyce said, "and I think his message speaks to the reasons why he vetoed the bill."

GOP lawmakers also criticized the governor for signing the veto Sunday but not releasing it until Wednesday -- which an Easley spokesman said was simply to give legislative leaders a chance to digest the message.

"He's up to some mischief, I think," said House Minority Leader Leo Daughtry, a Johnston County Republican. "The whole thing is bizarre."

And politicians on both sides of the aisle wondered why Easley would risk alienating the legislature's Democratic leadership, which, after the outcome of Tuesday's election, is sure to have a diminished majority in both chambers come January.

"We have to better understand it, and I think our staff is working with his staff to understand his complaints and work it out to his satisfaction -- if we can," Senate leader Marc Basnight said. "If the governor wants us to come back and fix the appointments, we will come back and fix the appointments."

Basnight said he disagreed with Easley's premise that larger boards are inefficient or unnecessary, but he said they had an amiable discussion Wednesday afternoon about the possibility of a veto session next week.

But Basnight's pique with the veto became clear with his next remark, when he noted that calling the General Assembly back to town costs far more -- $65,000 per day -- than paying the travel expenses of a few extra board and commission members.

"The numbers should be up on these boards and commissions unless there's some down side, and we can't find a down side," Basnight said.

Speaker surprised

House Speaker Jim Black expressed a similar opinion in an e-mail message Wednesday.

"I was not aware that the governor had problems with this bill when it was being considered by the General Assembly," Black wrote.

Black and Basnight have reason to bristle over the veto, which invalidates one of the most influence-building, if invisible, prerogatives of legislative leadership: appointments.

With control of two-thirds of the rosters of dozens of boards and commissions that help set state policy, Black and Basnight together wield indirect power over professional licensing, hunting and fishing regulations, and hundreds of millions of dollars spent on pollution control, park construction and road-building, to name a few.

Easley controls the other third of appointments.

Easley's veto message, handwritten on official stationery and marked in red with a large veto stamp acquired by the governor's office just a few months ago, made no mention of his budgetary concerns.

The governor said he was rejecting the appointments bill because two of the appointees have died, five are not qualified under state statutes to sit on the designated board and six are gubernatorial appointments that the General Assembly improperly made.

One of the deceased appointees is state Rep. Larry Justus, a Republican from Hendersonville who died Oct. 20. Black had appointed him and seven others to the N.C. Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force.

A question of power

North Carolina was the last state in the nation to give its governors veto power, doing so in a 1996 statewide referendum that pitted those who believed the state's governors had too little clout in the legislature against those worried that a veto would grant too much executive power. The measure took effect in 1997.

Easley has threatened a veto before, promising throughout much of this year to reject a budget that did not preserve education spending.

As of Wednesday evening, the governor had not officially called the General Assembly back for a veto session, which he must do by next Wednesday if at all, according to the state constitution.

Legislators could vote to override the veto with a three-fifths majority in both chambers. Or Easley could avoid a session by securing a majority of signatures that the veto should stand. If he fails both to call a session and to get the signatures, the appointments bill will become law.

Staff writer Amy Gardner can be reached at 829-8902 or [email protected].
 
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Bob

Thanks for posting the news article.

Regards

Tom Hildebrandt GAA
 

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Jack Betts









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Posted on Sun, Nov. 10, 2002

Easley's surprise veto: What was he thinking?
Governor says there's no hidden agenda, just a messy bill that needs to be fixed
JACK BETTS

RALEIGH - Mike Easley was afraid a reporter might notice what he was carried with him Saturday a week ago -- a big red stamp with one word: VETO.

Easley was worried because he was about to use the veto for the first time in state history. If word got out before last Tuesday's election, it might hurt Democratic candidates at the polls. It might hurt because Easley was about to make it clear in his veto message that he thought the bill was a stinker.

Sunday evening at his home in Southport, Easley quietly vetoed the bill -- S 1283, appointing 134 persons to various state boards and commissions. He didn't announce it until Wednesday, the day after the election.

When the news broke, it not only surprised and infuriated legislative leaders who had no idea the veto was coming. It also took away a lot of media attention that otherwise would have gone to Elizabeth Dole's solid victory in the U.S. Senate race over Democrat Erskine Bowles, a Republican near-sweep of appellate judgeships, and an apparent GOP takeover of the House and gains in the Senate that will make life tougher for the Democratic governor as he contemplates reelection in two years.

Reporters and commentators in the state who were about to make heavy pronouncements on Dole's historic achievement and voters' strong preference for divided government in the legislature and for Republican judges on the bench suddenly found themselves pondering why Gov. Easley was vetoing a Democratic bill at literally the last possible opportunity. What was he thinking?

Was the governor thumbing his nose at his dwindling allies in the legislature? Was he intent on calling the honorables back to try one more time on a lottery while Democrats still control the House? Attempt another redistricting? Pack the Supreme Court?

None of the above, Easley said in a telephone interview Thursday. "It'd been nice if it (his first bill vetoed) was some attack on individual rights and civil liberties, but that didn't come," he said. "This one is not a big deal, but it's a mess of a bill."

Easley had several key problems with the bill. The bill expanded the number of seats on 10 different boards without a compelling public purpose. Some of those appointed weren't qualified according to statutes that set up certain boards. Some were legislative appointments that belonged to the governor -- reappointing board members that Easley had planned to replace. One provision even took the Clean Water Management Trust Fund out from under his Cabinet's authority.

There were other problems. Two appointees had died. One had just been disciplined by the commission to which he was appointed. Another appointee already served on two boards and would have to drop one if he took a new appointment.

Easley and his staff had dropped the ball on this bill, which is similar to others at the end of every legislative session. "I didn't even know this bill existed until they (lawmakers who adjourned Oct. 4) were gone and I got around to reading it," Easley said. When he did, he said he could neither sign it nor let it pass into law.

Sunday was the last day he could veto it, and he felt there was a principle involved. "The bill is just emblematic of the legislative process as usual -- they got rushed at the end of the session, nobody on my staff knew about the bill, and they started expanding the boards and filling the seats with people they didn't check out."

Easley said the 2002 legislature deserves credit for making progress in health care, education and the environment. "But if North Carolina is going to be the best, you can't go around appointing people who are unqualified for a seat, or making appointments that belong to me," Easley said.

He wasn't quarreling with individual appointees. He had no objection to the individuals who were named to such boards as the N.C. Nursing Center, the State Banking Commission, the Rules Review Commission and so on. But he did note that some appointees either didn't qualify or had certain conflicts. "Some very good people were appointed ... who didn't qualify under the statute" specifying certain qualifications for the seat.

"I'm trying to change the legislative mindset," Easley said. "Each session they do this -- expanding boards without research on the need, without debate, without discussion." The means government grows not only within the employed bureaucracy, but also in the size of citizen boards and commissions that exercise certain powers.

"This mindset is bloating the boards and commissions without much thinking about it, and that's spilling over into government in general," Easley said. "This is not good government."

The governor knows that his veto isn't winning him any new friends in the state House and Senate. "In the short term, some feathers may get ruffled, but in the long haul some things might get reconsidered. They'll have a chance to fix the bill and it'll help them focus, help them change their mindset about the legislative process."

Maybe. Or maybe it will further distress the sometimes fragile relationship between the legislative and executive branches. Some legislative observers suspect that Easley would be happy to run on a platform of having squabbled daily and deeply with state legislators. Others believe he's up to something, using the veto to call a session to fix the bill and then taking the opportunity to call another session while they're in town to do other things.

Easley says nope. He's not interested in trying to expand the Supreme Court so he can name some Democrats to judgeships. He doesn't think a lottery can be addressed in any short session, though he'd like it if legislators themselves decided it was time. He thinks there might be time to deal with a proposed biotech training facility and a cancer center at UNC Hospitals if studies come through in time, but his only short-term agenda now is to fix the appointments bill.

"I'm not trying to get into their faces," Easley said. "I'm trying to protect them. We've got to do better. We must do better in these times. We've got to stop bloating everything."

Jack Betts


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jack Betts is an Observer associate editor based in Raleigh. Reach him at [email protected] or at 919-834-8471.
 

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This vexing veto





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The hemming and hawing of legislative leaders to the contrary, Governor Easley is correct in blocking a bill that designates a multitude of appointments to various state boards and commissions. The governor, in stamping the bill "VETO" -- the first use of the gubernatorial veto in North Carolina's history -- indicated there were technical glitches, including appointments of a couple of people who are deceased and some who were not eligible.

He noted that legislative leaders had made some appointments that are supposed to belong to the governor.

Easley also believes these boards and commissions are, in some cases, too large. On that point, he's also got more than one leg to stand on -- many appointees to such boards and commissions do good and serious work, of course, but the size of some of the groups also reflects the fondness of legislative leaders for offering positions to their political allies and friends -- such authority being one of the nice perks of power.

Legislators may have to act on the affirmation or override of the veto (a three-fifths majority of lawmakers overrides) in a "veto session" that Easley could call this week. Or a General Assembly majority could note in writing that a session wasn't necessary, in which case the veto stands.

If Easley doesn't call a veto session and no action is taken, then the bill becomes law anyway. That's the rather complicated procedure for a veto, which was granted to North Carolina's chief executive by a vote of the people in 1996 and put in effect the next year. It had never before been used.

Although the law requires that any special session called to consider a veto focus solely on that, some observers think the governor could be up to something, such as consideration of a state lottery or redistricting, which a lame-duck General Assembly could take up in a separate special session. The governor's office adamantly pooh-poohs that notion.

Whatever the reasons, Easley appears to have succeeded in riling both Republicans and Democrats with the prospect of a call to Raleigh. That could be another sign that he had the right idea. Or maybe he just wanted to see if the ink on the old veto pad was still fresh after all this time.
 

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Posted on Mon, Nov. 11, 2002

Irregular selections prompted Easley veto
Last-minute appointments flawed
MARK JOHNSON
Raleigh Bureau

RALEIGH - The N.C. Auctioneer Licensing Board lightly reprimanded Lumberton auctioneer Mickey Meekins last May and fined him $250, but Meekins didn't show up for the hearing.

Democrats in the N.C. Senate this fall appointed Meekins to the same board that punished him.

In the same piece of legislation, Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight appointed Stephanie Simpson, a lobbyist for the state Realtors association, to the N.C. Appraisal Board. State law, though, prohibits the Senate leader from appointing anyone involved in real estate.

The obscure bill containing those appointments and about 100 others not only drew a veto from Gov. Mike Easley last week, the first time an N.C. governor exercised that power, but it illustrates the backroom deals that still dominate the General Assembly and the frenetic pace with which some legislation is written.

Basnight and House Speaker Jim Black, both Democrats, created 31 new board and commission positions. The jobs are unpaid, but appointees get a daily stipend for meetings and travel expenses. The stipend ranges from about $100 to about $200.

In his veto message, Easley criticized the increase in state costs during a budget crisis, calling it a "troublesome trend of expanding government in a time when we need to make every effort to be more efficient and lean."

A spokeswoman for Basnight emphasized that about half the appointments are paid for through fees from the industries they regulate and not tax dollars. Bigger also does not mean less efficient, said Amy Fulk, Basnight's communications director.

"Senator Basnight doesn't see a problem with increasing North Carolinians' role in their government," Fulk said.

Board and commission appointments, though, provide Basnight and Black with power and perks. They can use the appointments to reward Democratic supporters and to shape state regulatory policy. Meekins, the auctioneer, had long since settled the dispute between a buyer and seller that led to his fine, but he also contributed to the campaign of Sen. David Weinstein, D-Robeson.

The appointments apparently had little to do with whether the boards themselves thought they needed to grow.

"No one here had any advance notice," said Terry Wright, deputy director of the N.C. Private Protective Services Board, which would have gained two new members under the vetoed bill. The board regulates private security firms.

Wright and others found out when the board's lawyer saw the appointments bill on the General Assembly Web site.

"That was a bit of a surprise," said Mel Black, executive director of the appraisal board, which grew by two seats, one appointed by Black and the other by Basnight, under the bill.

Easley's veto message pointed out that two appointees are dead and five others are prohibited from serving because of statutory requirements. The bill also "mistakenly makes six appointments that are required to be made by the Governor," Easley wrote.

The two deaths occurred after the bill was passed into law, but legislators attribute some of the other bobbles to the process of hurriedly assembling the appointments bill in the waning hours of the legislative session.

Basnight, for example, appointed Lanny Wilson of New Hanover County to the newly created state Turnpike Authority. Wilson, however, already serves on the state transportation board and real estate commission. He is prohibited by law from serving on more than two boards.

Black's appointments to the state appraisal board included David Hoyle Jr. Hoyle, who said he did not seek the position , resigned the appointment shortly after it was made.

Easley and legislative leaders have not yet settled on how to fix the flawed bill, though it could involve Easley's calling a special session of the legislature that would start this week.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mark Johnson:(704) 358-5941; [email protected]
 
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