The Republican-dominated state legislature offered legislation on Feb. 5 when that would reorganize or eliminate several appointed state-government commission posts and oversight boards, including the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

All 19 members of the Commission would be affected by the legislation, which supporters said will downsize state government, promote efficiency and potentially save the state $2 million.

Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick), is the bill's sponsor. It was introduced through the Senate Rules Committee. 

Changes to the Commission would include: 

* Terms of all commissioners serving as of Jan. 1, 2013, would expire June 30, 2013.

* All new commissioners would be appointed for two-year terms instead of two-, four- and six-year terms. Commissioners who lose their positions on June 30 can re-apply for them.

* The governor would appoint only nine members of the Commission – one from each of the state's nine wildlife districts – while the legislative branches would appoint 10 at-large appointees. Also, a requirement in place that requires at-large legislative appointees to include members of the legislature's minority party would be dropped. 

Since Gov. Jim Hunt's Democrat administration in the 1980s, the governor has had the power to appoint a majority of commissioners, naming 11 of 19, while the House and Senate split eight appointments. Past commissioners' terms of office varied between two, four and six years.Members of the Utilities Commission, Environmental Management Commission, Coastal Resources Commission and Lottery Commission also would lose their appointed positions. The bill also would abolish the Charter School Advisory Committee, the Lottery Oversight Commission, the Turnpike Authority and the Board of Corrections.  

Democrat legislators opposed the sweeping changes, according to news reports. 

Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake) called the bill a power grab "breathtaking in its scope," explaining that many of the boards targeted by the bill were formed to protect consumers, injured workers and the environment. 

Rabon, however, disagreed. "We're cleaning up some things that have been left behind," Rabon said. "We're trying to become more efficient, save the state money, and as I said, give the administration a chance to do what the people have requested." 

Rabon also pointed out that former administrations had sometimes redesigned or expanded boards to give their party a political edge.