RALEIGH — The General Assembly is nearing the completion of it’s election year short session having passed its budget changes to the two-year state budget over the veto of Governor Roy Cooper.
On Monday, Governor Cooper issued seven vetoes while signing 32 other bills into law. Cooper vetoed a bill that would have allowed criminal defendant’s relief from forfeiting their bond when they miss court due to being in the custody of state or federal authorities and said, “Adding another excuse to set aside a bond forfeiture when a criminal defendant fails to appear in court hurts school funding and reduces incentives to ensure justice is served.” Cooper also vetoed the 40-page Department of Insurance agency bill due to the inclusion of similar language on bond forfeitures.
In his veto statement on the Regulatory Reform Act of 2018, Cooper singled out environmental changes saying the 18-page bill “hurts the effort to make sure our water is clean” and said that the other changes were unnecessary. The bill had 28 policy sections and included provisions that adjusted to the number of district attorneys in certain counties, allowed the importation of eels, capped certain environmental permit fees and exempted charter school personal property from taxation, among other provisions.
The highest profile bill that received the Governor’s red veto stamp was the NC Farm Act of 2018. Just hours after N.C. farmers staged a rally between the Capitol and the General Assembly in support of the bill, Cooper vetoed the bill over a provision that would shield farmers from lawsuit alleging their operations are a nuisance unless the action is filed within one year of the farm beginning operations or expanding. “While agriculture is vital to North Carolina’s economy, so property rights are vital to people’s homes and other businesses,” said Cooper in his veto statement. “North Carolina’s nuisance laws can help allow generations of families to enjoy their homes and land without fear for their health and safety. Those same laws stopped the Tennessee Valley Authority from pumping air pollution into our mountains. Our laws must balance the needs of businesses versus property rights. Giving one industry special treatment at the expense of its neighbors is unfair.”
Governor Cooper also vetoed bills changing certain judicial district and elections, making changes to the state retirement system and a bill that set statewide rules for early voting.
The General Assembly has overridden each of Governor Cooper’s three previous vetoes this session. Those bills included the state budget, the Elections Security and Transparency Act and another bill that made changes to judicial districts.