NC Senate Approves New Compositions for Unelected Boards and Commissions

Senator Berger Press Shop
5 min readApr 6, 2023

Senate Bill 512 establishes new membership for boards and commissions that make independent policy decisions impacting all North Carolinians and state government

Restructuring appointments brings balance and accountability to unelected bodies

Raleigh, N.C. — Today the N.C. Senate passed a bill to bring much-needed balance to unelected boards and commissions.

These boards have independent rule-making functions that significantly impact state government and the lives of North Carolinians. Yet they lack a diversity of thought that represents the state as a whole since all or a large majority of members are hand-picked by the Governor or serve in the Governor’s administration.

Senate Bill 512 broadens the appointment authorities for membership between the executive branch — including members of the Council of State — and the General Assembly. A more diverse network of appointing authorities will be more representative of the state as a whole.

“Appointing members to our boards and commissions should not be limited to one particular person or administration,” Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said. “The General Assembly is the most representative body of our state, and it needs to have a seat at the table when it comes to our boards and commissions.”

The nine boards and commissions are:

· The Utilities Commission

· The Economic Investment Committee

· The Environmental Management Commission

· The Commission for Public Health

· The Board of Transportation

· The Coastal Resources Commission

· The Wildlife Resources Commission

· The N.C. Railroad Board of Directors

· The UNC Health Care Board of Directors

“North Carolina’s boards and commissions hold unique rulemaking duties that touch every corner of the state,” Sen. Warren Daniel (R-Burke) said. “By balancing out a select number of boards, Senate Bill 512 welcomes a diversity of thought and gives our citizens the representation they deserve on these independent authorities.”

Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) said: “Accountability is lost when only one person is holding all of the cards. The appointment process laid out in Senate Bill 512 makes certain that our boards and commissions will not operate in the dark.”

Appointments made by the General Assembly are voted on by the 170 members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The majority of gubernatorial appointments are approved by one person — the Governor.

The Governor makes appointments to more than 350 boards and commissions. According to the Governor’s office, more than 600 appointments expire each year.

The Governor would still have appointment authority on the boards and commissions the office currently appoints members to. No current appointees would have their terms cut short by this proposal.

The changes to the boards and commissions membership are as follows:

· Utilities Commission: Reduces the membership by two appointees and changes the appointment authority mix. The membership would be comprised of two appointees from the General Assembly, two appointees from the Governor, and one appointee from the State Treasurer. The Utilities Commission would also move from the Department of Commerce to the State Treasurer’s office. The Governor will continue to appoint the chair. Currently, the seven members of the board are all appointed by the Governor.

· Economic Investment Committee: Adds two members. The membership would be comprised of the Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Revenue, State Budget Director, two appointees from the General Assembly, the Speaker of the House or his designee, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate or his designee. Currently, there are only five members.

· Environmental Management Commission: Changes the appointment authority mix. The Governor would appoint seven members, the General Assembly would appoint six members, and the Agriculture Commissioner would appoint two members. Currently, the Governor appoints nine members, and the General Assembly appoints six.

· Commission for Public Health: Changes the appointment authority mix. The Governor would appoint five members, the General Assembly would appoint four, and the N.C. Medical Society would elect four members. Currently, the Governor appoints nine members, and the N.C. Medical Society elects four members.

· Board of Transportation: Changes the appointment structure. The General Assembly would appoint 14 members representing the 14 highway divisions, the Governor would appoint six at-large members, and the Secretary of Transportation would serve as a non-voting member. Currently, the Governor appoints 14 members representing the 14 highway divisions, the General Assembly appoints six at-large members, and the Secretary of Transportation serves as a non-voting member.

· Coastal Resources Commission: Changes the appointment authority mix. The General Assembly would appoint six members, the Governor would appoint six members, and the Insurance Commissioner would appoint one member. Currently, the Governor appoints nine members, and the General Assembly appoints four.

· Wildlife Resources Commission: Changes the appointment authority mix and adds two new members. The General Assembly would appoint 10 members, the Governor would appoint 10 members, and the Agriculture Commissioner would appoint one member. Currently, the Governor appoints 11 members, and the General Assembly appoints eight.

· N.C. Railroad Board of Directors: Changes the appointment authority mix. The General Assembly would appoint six members, the Governor would appoint six members, and the State Treasurer would appoint one member. Currently, the Governor appoints seven members, and the General Assembly appoints six.

· UNC Health Care Board of Directors: Changes the appointment authority mix and the number of administrators on the board. The board would be comprised of the UNC System President or his designee, the CEO of UNC Health Care, the UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor, the President of UNC Hospitals, 12 members appointed by the Board of Governors, and eight members appointed by the General Assembly. Currently, the board is comprised of the UNC System President, the CEO of UNC Health Care, the UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor, the UNC-Chapel Hill Administrative Officer, the President of UNC Hospitals, the President of the UNC Faculty Physicians, two members of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine Faculty, 12 members appointed by the Board of Governors and four appointed by the Board of Directors.

Three boards — the Environmental Management Commission, the Board of Transportation, and the Coastal Resources Commission — would elect their board chairs instead of having the Governor appoint the chair.

Senate Bill 512 passed with a vote of 29–18. The bill now goes to the N.C. House of Representatives for consideration.

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