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@NCCapitol

Cooper vetoes two wide-ranging bills

Posted August 14

Gov. Roy Cooper holds a Feb. 14, 2017, news conference to announce a proposal to repeal a state law limiting LGBT rights.

— Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a pair of hodgepodge policy bills Tuesday, signaling displeasure with the way one tied local government hands on storm water rules and another helped a well-connected state employee draw two state paychecks.

Both bills had some bipartisan support, but they were used during the recent one-day legislative session as catch-alls for leadership-backed proposals, some of which were unveiled that same day by the General Assembly's Republican majority. A conference committee member for House Bill 770, which was titled Various Clarifying Changes, {{a href="blogpost-1}}said he was never even involved in negotiating the bill's final details{{/a}} – it just came ready-to-go from leadership.

Senate Bill 16 contains a number of regulatory changes, touching on industries as disparate as the alarm business and gondola operators. Environmental groups objected to language that would roll back local governments' ability to require extra storm water mitigation when pre-existing developments get reworked.

The legislation says new control measures can be required based only on the amount of impervious surface added to the development, not on the full property.

"We should make it easier, not harder, for state and local governments to protect water quality," Cooper said in a veto message released shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Environmental groups also criticized other parts of the bill and thanked Cooper for his veto.

"Gov. Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 16 is a victory for clean water and property rights," Matthew Starr, the Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, said in a statement. "If SB16 became law, it would open the door for oil companies using eminent domain to build dangerous pipelines through the back yards of families across the state, and it would make it more difficult for communities to hold local landfills accountable for poor practices."

House Bill 770 moved money around among the state's mental health operators following cuts approved by the General Assembly earlier this year. Cooper complained that the legislature also gave itself two appointments to the state's Medical Board through the bill, which he called "an intrusion on executive authority."

The two sides have battled over separation of powers issues since before Cooper even took office. Republican leadership moved to limit the governor's appointment powers shortly after Republican Gov. Pat McCrory lost his re-election bid.

The House bill also included a little-noticed provision that would have allowed a former general counsel for the state Republican Party, who is now a full-time employee at the North Carolina Industrial Commission, to draw additional salary for serving on the state Property Tax Commission. Cooper said this "special pay benefit for one employee ... is unnecessary and unfair to other state employees."

Bill Peaslee, who works on both commissions, had been paid for both jobs under McCrory, but the Cooper administration stopped the tax commission checks, citing a state law against double-dipping.

The issue was not clear cut, though, because of state code that treats the tax commission salaries differently from other state appointments. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger last week called the measure a clarifying one and said it's only fair to pay Peaslee for both jobs since he takes time off from the Industrial Commission to attend tax hearings.

Legislators come back into session Friday, and Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers. No votes are expected until later next week, though, and legislators also have previous Cooper vetoes to deal with and new legislative maps to approve.

3 Comments

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  • D. Aaron Hill Aug 15, 2:07 p.m.
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    The know-nothing GOP will surely override just for the spite. Also, you can read about conspiracy theories below.

  • Jimmy Jones Aug 15, 1:14 p.m.
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    and those nine fraudulent voting precincts in Durham won't help him in the next election....they're in the crosshairs for voter fraud.

  • Jimmy Jones Aug 15, 1:12 p.m.
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    Steam roll Cooper's vetoes.....and keep on going. He's a one-termer.