When the General Assembly convened for the long session on January 11, 2017, the atmosphere among the legislators was congenial and light. A far cry from the atmosphere during the special sessions that rounded out 2016. While most of the day was swearing ins, lofty speeches, and ceremony, the Senate adopted one very important and new rule, Rule 49.
Rule 49 spells out the process or lack there of, for confirming gubernatorial nominees, a new law passed during the surprise special session. The Principal Clerk of the Senate reads the nomination to the Senate. Next, the chairperson of the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate refers the nomination to the committee he or she deems appropriate. The chair of the committee the nomination is referred to, then determines the process the committee will use to consider the nominee. This undetermined committee may or may not, present a report of its recommendation to the Senate.
The lack of specificity in this rule can be a curse or a blessing, depending on how it is interpreted. We will have to wait to see what this process looks like in practice before making a definitive decision. What can be agreed upon by all is that it is in the best interest of North Carolina for the confirmations process of the gubernatorial cabinet to be put in place as soon as possible.