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@NCCapitol

House votes to override two vetoes

Posted September 3, 2013
Updated September 4, 2013

— The state House voted Tuesday to override Gov. Pat McCrory's vetoes of two bills, easily brushing aside the governor's objections and sending both measures to the state Senate.

Senators are due to reconvene at 9 a.m. Wednesday to consider the overrides and potentially hand McCrory a pair of stinging defeats. 

"Though we disagreed with the governor on these two issues, we appreciate his leadership and continue to have great confidence in his administration," House Speaker Thom Tillis said in a prepared statement.

One measure would have required drug testing and criminal background checks for applicants to certain welfare programs. Those applying for federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits, a cash assistance program, would have to undergo both background checks and drug screenings under the bill. Applicants for food stamps would have to undergo only background checks, including fingerprinting.

"What's the problem this bill seeks to remedy?" asked Rep. Jim Fulgham, R-Wake, who opposed the bill. "These new provisions meet the definition of kicking a man while he's down."

Opponents of the measure say that the drug-testing provisions had caught very few users when applied in others states, and the background check measures would be costly and possibly unconstitutional.

Backers of the measures say they are designed to ensure that taxpayer support doesn't go to criminals and or to support drug habits.

General Assembly, lawmakers, legislature, legislators generic Senate to take up override votes Wednesday morning

"If you vote for this bill, you are saying that fleeing felons are not entitled to welfare benefits," said Rep. Dean Arp, R-Union.

Opponents pointed out that McCrory had already put executive orders in place to provide for better identification of fleeing criminals who apply for welfare.

But Arp insisted the new measures were needed.

The federal TANF program, he pointed out, provided cash that some could use for drugs rather than rent. That money, he said, was meant to support those looking for work.

"Being drug free is an essential part of being able to find and keep a job," he said.

The House voted for the measure 77-39, easily beating the three-fifths majority needed to pass the bill, notwithstanding the governor's objections.

Second override vote addresses immigration law

House members backing House Bill 786, which eases requirements for employees to be checked against the federal E-Verify system, passed with even more cushion. House members voted 84-32 in favor of the bill, also sending it to the Senate. 

The bill would extend from 90 days to nine months the amount of time that an employee could work without undergoing a background check in the E-Verify system, which is meant to ensure workers are legal U.S. residents or citizens.

"We've got a 9-percent unemployment rate, and here we are with a jobs bill for illegal aliens? It makes absolutely no sense," Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, said.

Cleveland backed McCrory's veto, as did sheriffs around the state who said it was important to enforce current immigration laws.

But agricultural interests, including Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and roughly a dozen growers' associations, said they needed the bill. 

"Ninety days will not work for the farmers in my area," said Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash, the House majority whip.

Collins said that immigrant workers frequently work three or four different crops and that requiring an E-Verify search for seasonal labor could leave produce rotting in the fields.

'A problem'

The Senate could not take action until the House cast its votes. With the House schedule uncertain early Tuesday, senators opted to come back Wednesday morning.

Although they have not taken a formal count of votes, top leaders say it's more than likely they will vote to override both vetoes as well.

"If the House sends one or both of those back to us, I would anticipate the Senate would follow through on what we did before," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said. "I don't have any information that leads me to believe the vote would be much different than it was before."

If so, the Senate vote would represent a stinging rebuke for the first-term governor.

Although McCrory is a Republican and the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans, the executive and legislative branches haven't always seen eye-to-eye this session. Often, the legislature plotted a course on issues while McCrory was still triangulating his position.

"They kind of climbed up on the tree stump and established who is in charge here in Raleigh," said Carter Wrenn, a long-time Republican strategist.

He said the veto overrides are a bad sign for the governor.

"This is one of those things that's like a warning sign or a symptom," Wrenn said. "You don't know where it goes from here for the governor, but it indicates there's a problem."

Although the governor has the power to manage the daily operations of state government, he cannot make sweeping changes without legislative support. 

The overrides could cause McCrory problems outside Raleigh too, Wrenn said. People will be watching to see how he grabs the reins of state government and patches his relationship with lawmakers.

"For right now," Wrenn said, "he looks weak."

131 Comments

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  • junkmail5 Sep 5, 8:30 a.m.

    They should all have drug testing. The food stamps are sold on the black market at half or less the actually worth to buy drugs anyway. -signofthetimes

    Uh... you know they don't give ACTUAL stamps anymore right?

    It all goes on a single EBT card with the persons name on it now.

    Bit harder to "sell" that each week.

  • Six String Sep 4, 3:48 p.m.

    I don't think I've ever before seen a first term lame duck Governor. Funny, and useless too.

  • dontstopnow Sep 4, 2:43 p.m.

    " Applicants for food stamps would have to undergo only background checks, including fingerprinting.

    They should all have drug testing. The food stamps are sold on the black market at half or less the actually worth to buy drugs anyway. At least if they had to have the drug tests, maybe they the taxpayers would not be supporting their drug addiction.

  • Paul M Sep 4, 2:26 p.m.

    I voted for this man and I am so disipointed in myself.

  • junkmail5 Sep 4, 1:05 p.m.

    "Since federal law is the same in all states, the court will overturn here." ...so let them overturn it. That is what they are for. If it holds up, great. If not, at least they tried.
    HockeyPlayerX

    ... what?

    So you're ok with the state government wasting millions of dollars to implement a program that not only LOSES money when it has been tried elsewhere, but that EVERY federal court that has heard it has declared illegal.... because "Hey, at least they tried!"

    Why do you support a group that tries things that have been proven, illegal, failures?

    To me a group that kept "trying" programs that are proven illegal waste of money failures would be a group to try and get OUT of office, not a group to support.

  • PDMARTIN Sep 4, 12:16 p.m.

    Is it just me or does this statement just sound a little stupid.

    If you vote for this bill, you are saying that fleeing felons are not entitled to welfare benefits," said Rep. Dean Arp, R-Union.

    So those "felons" should BE entitled to benefits? WHAT!!!

  • junkmail5 Sep 4, 12:15 p.m.

    you are dodging the question.- HockeyPlayerX

    No, I'm pointing out the words you are putting in my mouth don't belong there.

    Do you support the use of illegal drugs and illegal immigration?- HockeyPlayerX

    Nope, not at all.

    hence your argument falls apart entirely since it's based on a false premise.

    I do support REFORM of the laws covering both areas in the US, because frankly they're a huge ineffective mess right now.

    But that's nothing at all like supporting blatantly illegal laws as you seem to be doing by supporting the welfare drug testing thing that has already been ruled FEDERALLY illegal in every state that has tried it.

  • HockeyPlayerX Sep 4, 12:10 p.m.

    "Since federal law is the same in all states, the court will overturn here." ...so let them overturn it. That is what they are for. If it holds up, great. If not, at least they tried.

  • HockeyPlayerX Sep 4, 11:53 a.m.

    "That's easy! the second half of your claim is a strawman argument you just made up and has nothing to do with any argument I myself have ever made." ... you are dodging the question. Do you support the use of illegal drugs and illegal immigration? If you do, you probably should reconsider using legality in your arguments.

  • junkmail5 Sep 4, 11:46 a.m.

    I have never agreed with the admonition "others states are doing it..." or "other states have done it..." - rdcress

    How about "Every single states that has done it has had it struck down in federal court and the LITERAL EXACT THING will happen if NC does it"?

    Or do you not agree with basic facts and logic?

    If that's the case you'd make a great GOP member of the NCGA!

    You seem very concerned about what is legal and illegal out of one side of your mouth, meanwhile, you don't seem to have any problem with not enforcing laws like immigration and drug possession. Please, do explain:
    HockeyPlayerX

    That's easy! the second half of your claim is a strawman argument you just made up and has nothing to do with any argument I myself have ever made.

    And by the way, yes, you can tell it's illegal without waiting for the courts.

    How? It has been FEDERAL courts that have overturned the law in other states.

    Since federal law is the same in all states, the court will overturn here.

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