NC governors will keep fighting two proposed constitutional amendments, ex-Gov. Martin says

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North Carolina constitutional amendments

Coverage from The Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun of the constitutional amendments you’ll vote on in the November 2018 elections.

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North Carolina’s five living former governors will continue to oppose a pair of constitutional amendments, former Republican Gov. Jim Martin said Wednesday.

His comments came a day after the state Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Gov. Roy Cooper that the two amendments — involving appointment powers — can go on the ballot.

“We’re fully committed to opposing these,” Martin told the Observer.

In an unprecedented show of unity, Martin and former GOP Gov. Pat McCrory joined former Democratic Govs. Jim Hunt, Mike Easley and Bev Perdue last month in opposing the two amendments. So did six former Supreme Court chief justices.

They all said the measures violate the constitution’s separation of powers. The two are among six proposed amendments on the fall ballot.

Cooper originally argued that the ballot language of the two amendments was misleading. A three-judge panel agreed. Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled General Assembly convened a special session to address concerns over the two amendments.

One amendment, which would have stripped governors of their power to appoint members to hundreds of boards and commissions, was whittled down to include changes only to the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

The second amendment would take away governors’ powers to appoint judges and justices to vacant seats, and give more power to the legislature. That one remained largely unchanged.

Martin and McCrory initially applauded the legislature’s changes. But Wednesday they said they didn’t go far enough.

“Although much has improved with recent legislative revisions, I am still voting against the two amendments while supporting the others,” McCrory said in a text.

“The changes deserved a compliment,” Martin said. “(But) we are totally opposed to both of them. It’s still a taking of control over appointments that are executive responsibilities to make.”

Martin said the governors have talked about raising money for an ad campaign. He said they have waited to see what the courts would decide.

“We want to run some ads and communicate in that way,” he said.

Any spending would likely go through a referendum committee, which can raise unlimited amounts from individuals and corporations.

Jim Morrill, 704-358-5059; @jimmorrill
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