Cooper takes aim at 'partisan political games'

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Thursday, December 15, 2016
Cooper takes aim at 'partisan political games'
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Governor-elect Roy Cooper

RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Governor-elect Roy Cooper responded Thursday to efforts by Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly to cut back his powers before he takes office.

"Most people might think this is a partisan power grab, but it is really more ominous," said Cooper. It's really about hurting public education, working families, state employees, health care, and clean air and water."

Watch Cooper's full news conference

House and Senate bills filed Wednesday would force Cooper's cabinet appointees to undergo Senate confirmation. It's already in the state constitution, just never enforced.

North Carolina special session day two: Cooper vs. Republicans

Republicans want to remove Cooper's power to appoint trustees to UNC System schools. They would revive partisan state Supreme Court elections. And, merge the state board of elections with the state ethics commission.

Republicans are pushing back against criticism from the left, saying Democrats have made the same kind of moves when they've taken over power in the past.

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Protestors gather outside of a press conference room during a special session Thursday.
Gerry Broome

"People can fuss about the process but let's be honest. These people would just be as unhappy if we passed it a month from now. They don't like what's being done but they were okay with it when the Democrats did it. There's hypocrisy here," offered N.C. GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse.

Cooper said so many bills have been filed since the 4th special session in the General Assembly have been filed that he hasn't had time to read them all.

"They've been coming in in the middle of the night," he said.

RELATED: Special session heats up as GOP files bills, Dems fume

Cooper said passing laws quickly and without much review or debate has been disastrous for North Carolina - pointing to the controversial HB2 law and the economic damage it caused after it was quickly passed and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory.

"We don't look good to our people here in North Carolina or to the rest of the country when laws are passed hastily with little discussion in the middle of the night. Witness the disaster of House Bill 2," he said.

But Cooper also sounded a conciliatory note, saying he was willing to compromise with the Republican leadership in some areas like maintaining jobs in the state and creating new ones.

"I have offered to work with the Republican leadership, and I am even ready to negotiate compromises if I think the result will make life a little bit better for everyday North Carolinians," he said.

But Cooper said he will fight any laws he sees as unconstitutional.

"They will see me in court," he said. "And they don't have a very good track record there."