A North Carolina Senate committee wants debate to continue over replacing judicial election districts and altering how judges are selected in the state.
The debate would continue under a new panel comprised of both House and Senate members.
The Senate-only committee voted Wednesday to ask Senate leader Phil Berger to work with the House to create a new joint panel. The Senate's decision means judicial issues won't be considered during a special General Assembly session next week. Senate Rules Committee Chairman Bill Rabon said more time is needed to get bipartisan support.
Republicans who lead the Senate's judicial committee did unveil Wednesday a proposal to end the head-to-head judicial elections.
The plan would have the General Assembly recommending nominees for judicial vacancies to the governor from a pool of candidates vetted by a commission created by the chief justice. The governor's ultimate appointment would later be subject to a retention election.
North Carolina Republicans are trying to agree on new judicial district lines and whether to propose ending head-to-head judicial elections. But it's unlikely Gov. Roy Cooper and most Democrats will embrace such changes in 2018.
The Senate committee discussing these judicial changes meets Wednesday, a week before a special General Assembly session begins. It's unclear if either topic will be voted on during the session.
Senate leader Phil Berger says he anticipates the legislature will approve new judicial lines sometime soon. Judicial selection changes ultimately would have to be approved in a constitutional referendum.
Cooper suggested in an interview he'll oppose any judicial changes proposed by Republicans at least until they no longer have a veto-proof majority. Democratic support would be key in getting enough voters to back merit selection.
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