- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The North Carolina legislature has completed reworking the boundaries for Wake County’s governing board and how its commissioners are elected in yet another recent entry by lawmakers into local government affairs.

The House on Wednesday passed a Senate measure largely along party lines. The Senate already passed the bill that was written by Republicans.

Since it is a local measure that doesn’t need the signature of Gov. Pat McCrory, it immediately becomes law.

The governor has expressed displeasure with fellow Republicans for interfering recently in local government affairs in Wake County and the city of Greensboro. Bill backers have said the changes will improve voter representation.

The commission in Wake - the state’s second-largest county - will grow from seven to nine members. All current commission races are currently countywide, although each commissioner represents a specific geographic area.

Now, none of the nine seats will be elected countywide by 2018. Seven will be elected by voters from within their geographic districts, with two others elected regionally. District boundaries are identical to the Wake County school board districts the legislature made two years ago, which are still being challenged in court.

Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, who shepherded the Senate bill in the House, said the current at-large seats submerge the views of the minority, whether by party or race. The bill’s senate sponsor said the new maps would ensure representation for residents of small towns and cities in Wake County other than Raleigh.

Democrats have argued the measure is sure to help Republicans win back seats. Democrats swept the four commission races on the ballot last fall and now hold all seven slots.

“If you look at the bill, you can tell that there is partisan motivation,” said Rep. Rosa Gill, D-Wake.

Republicans turned back Democratic amendments that would have created an alternate district map or would have required that the proposed districts be approved by voters in a referendum.

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