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NC Senate Republicans want to clear several boards

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm •  Published: February 5, 2013

Either state law or by tradition, the terms of members who serve on the boards and commissions usually don't expire all at once.

Rabon said he expected McCrory to be happy with parts of the bill, but didn't say which areas. McCrory Press Secretary Crystal Feldman said the administration hadn't seen the bill as of midday Tuesday and couldn't comment.

Stein asked Rabon whether commission members had done anything wrong to warrant being fired. Rabon said the seven-member Utilities Commission, which regulates telecommunications, electric and natural gas markets, at times has been accused of being "rubber stamps" for some utility companies. The commission decides, for example, whether utilities like Duke Energy can raise their customer rates.

Molly Diggins, state director of the Sierra Club, said the legislation targets environmental commissions in particular. The Environmental Management Commission, Coastal Resources Commission and a coastal advisory council would see their current memberships dismissed and panel numbers reduced. The governor would appoint a smaller percentage of the total members to some of the panels.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation said in a release it was a "radical bill that "completely overturns decades of work by state lawmakers and governors to promote balance and partnerships into how the state manages its environment."

The bill could have gone farther. A provision that would have created two additional seats for justices on the state Supreme Court in early 2015 was removed in the committee. The state constitution allows the state's highest court to have up to nine justices. There are currently seven on the court.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, the committee chairman, said the idea — labeled by critics as court packing — wasn't gone forever.

"We will probably visit that at a later date,' he said.