Bill removes Cooper’s appointing power at Berger’s home campus

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Democratic North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper would be stripped of his power to appoint community college board members in the home county of Senate Leader Phil Berger , under legislation approved Wednesday by the State House.

Rockingham Community College has a 13-member council. The local board of commissioners, school board, and governor now select four members each, in accordance with state law that most community college governing bodies follow. A handful of colleges have board changes.

Under the bill currently heading to the Senate, the four appointments currently made by the governor would instead be based on recommendations from the Speaker of the House and the Leader of the Senate. And six of the remaining eight places would now belong to commissioners, with the school board getting two.

Rep. Reece Pyrtle, a Republican from Rockingham County who is leading the bill, said the governance proposal would reflect the composition of the board of trustees at Cleveland Community College, in Speaker Tim Moore’s home county, since 2018. Moore and Berger are Republicans.


Pyrtle said the changes would give more authority to county commissioners, who agreed to put a successful sales tax referendum on the ballot. Proceeds from the levy go towards workforce development efforts at the college. Pyrtle said he spoke to local leaders about the changes, but not the governor.

The House approved the bill on a party vote. Democratic Representative Raymond Smith of Wayne County called the bill a “stepping stone” to erode Cooper’s authority statewide.

Berger said later Wednesday that he agrees that having more local input for the college board is a “step in the right direction.” The bill would become law if the Senate accepted the measure, since local law is not subject to Cooper’s veto.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed legislation in late 2016 — weeks before Cooper took office — that eliminated the governor’s power to appoint members of campus boards of trustees in the University of Carolina system. North.

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