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@NCCapitol

McCrory fires back after Senate completes veto overrides

Posted September 4, 2013

— Gov. Pat McCrory criticized lawmakers Wednesday for their decisions to override his only two vetoes of the session, saying he won't carry out one new law and will try to find ways to work around the other.

The state Senate completed the override of two vetoes in quick fashion Wednesday morning, handing McCrory political losses on a pair of high-profile bills that garnered all the more attention because of the governor's objections. The House overrode both vetoes Tuesday, so the measures are now law despite the governor's objections.

Senate debate on both bills was sparse, with nobody speaking against the overrides.

One vetoed measure requires 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.

"We don't want hard-working North Carolinians to be supporting illegal drug use," Sen. Jim Davis, R-Macon, said. 

The vote to override was 34-10. If all 50 senators had been present and voting, it would have only required 30 votes to override the governor's objections.

The second measure overridden by lawmakers aims to help farmers hire seasonal labor. It extends 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.

"This is the right thing to do for our (agriculture) community," Sen. Brent Jackson said.

The vote to override was 39-5.

McCrory used an appearance at the State Board of Education to announce that his Department of Health and Human Service wouldn't take steps to enforce drug testing, which he called an "unfunded mandate" because lawmakers didn't provide money to carry it out. 

Gov. Pat McCrory Defiant McCrory battles lawmakers for control

The budget does designate funding for the testing, but a spokeswoman for the governor said the funding is insufficient. 

On the E-Verify law, he said he would ask his aides "to explore all legal and executive authority to ensure the letter and spirit of our nation’s immigration law is followed in this state," noting that he doesn't want North Carolina residents to lose jobs to people in the country illegally.

McCrory also criticizing lawmakers for passing the two bills in the first place, as well as other legislation approved late in the session. Both he and the majority of the General Assembly are Republican, but they have tangled over a number of issues this year.

"One part of our (state government) culture that did not change was passing some flawed legislation during the last hours of session with little debate, understanding or transparency," the governor said in the statement. "Too much education policy was slipped into the budget bill, causing serious concerns, especially from our teachers and educators. Executive branch concerns over long-term operational costs were ignored by passing bills with good intentions but unintended consequences and overriding vetoes on drug testing and immigration."

Senate leaders quickly took McCrory to task for his decision to ignore the new drug testing law.

"It does concern me because it seems a little instrument called the state constitution is being ignored," said Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson.

Likewise, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said McCrory cannot simply sidestep the constitution.

"All governors, without regard to party, swear an oath to uphold the constitution. We expect Gov. McCrory to perform his constitutional duty to enforce the law," Berger said in a statement.

Costly 'disagreement'

Earlier, the two senators said they simply had a disagreement with the governor over these two bills.

"A lot of us didn't understand why those two bills were picked for vetoes," said Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson. He said constituents in his area were pressing for both bills, particularly the E-verify measure.

"I've never seen the farmers in my district so united on anything," he said. 

“Despite some divisive, partisan rhetoric from special interest groups, the truth is most bills pass the General Assembly with broad, bipartisan support,” said Berger, R-Rockingham. “These two bills are no different – they are a product of Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate working together to make a positive and lasting impact on our state.”

The two-day special session called to consider the veto overrides cost North Carolina taxpayers $110,000.

"It does seem like a waste of money. It does," Apodaca said.

"It's an awful lot of money to spend and come back and discuss bills which their fate and conclusion should have been known in advance," said Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham. "It was a bad political judgment call. Certainly, the Republicans in the General Assembly have given him his marching orders, and I think he now knows who's in control."

NC Senate Lawmakers question veto decisions

Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University, said McCrory is trying to assert some control himself.

"The General Assembly has really been the engine room, and he's sort of been a bystander for a lot of the time," Taylor said. "I don't think it hurts for him to say, 'I am a leader, not just a follower.'"

Apodaca said lawmakers worked closely with McCrory's staff on the drug-testing bill.

"They changed it considerably from what it started out being, and then it was vetoed," he said.

When asked what he would tell McCrory about paying for the testing requirement, he said, "Well, I guess you could cut a few salaries and find the money to put into this program," referring to recent stories about big pay raises granted to relatively young administration hires.

Outside the legislature, there was little political push against the E-Verify measure. While some sheriffs and conservative groups asked lawmakers to sustain McCrory's vetoes, farm groups were much more vocal. In addition to Republican lawmakers, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, also a Republican, pushed for an override.

The drug testing and background check bill had a bit more opposition, as progressive groups sided with the governor.

“It’s very disappointing that the legislature put so much effort into passing this cruel and constitutionally suspect bill. H.B. 392 does nothing to help those who test positive for drug use get treatment, but it does allow the government to conduct costly, unnecessary and unreasonably intrusive searches of North Carolinians who seek public assistance to care for their families," said Sarah Preston, policy director for the ACLU of North Carolina.

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers questioned McCrory's motives in vetoing both, and they said they were surprised by his lack of communication.

"We certainly want to hear the governor's positions, but we want to do that prior to a showdown vote," said Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph.

316 Comments

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  • Sally1023 Sep 6, 12:17 p.m.

    As my grandfather use to say, "If you sleep with dogs, you get up with fleas." Welcome to the NEW normal in politics in NC. Thank you Art Pope!

  • gnostradame Sep 6, 11:25 a.m.

    "Showing ID to vote or get Medicaid is the best thing to do. We have so many illegals in this state it makes me sick."

    Translation: barbstillkickin doesn't like brown people because her mama and diddy told her not to...

  • goldenosprey Sep 6, 11:21 a.m.

    "We have so many illegals in this state it makes me sick. I sit here and watch AMERICAN CITIZENS not have a job because the illegals will work cheap. " barbstill

    So you agree our radical rightwing GA is way outta line, right?

    "I have to undergo drug to keep my job, why shouldn't they to keep their welfare?" Bob3425

    Congratulations, you are the millionth poster to post this non-seq.

    I DON'T have to pass a drug test to keep my job, therefore the (mostly) working poor and children receiving benefits should NOT have to pass a drug test. Hey, it's your logic.

  • barbstillkickin Sep 6, 10:13 a.m.

    Showing ID to vote or get Medicaid is the best thing to do. We have so many illegals in this state it makes me sick. I sit here and watch AMERICAN CITIZENS not have a job because the illegals will work cheap. The Government needs to get more involved and if people want to picket for illegals rights then they just look as crazy as can be. Instead of carrying a sign GET A JOB. Oh that is right you can not get a job because the illegals you try to protect are taking your jobs. People get tested for work and other things and everyone should have a background check. You need a picture ID which you can get at DMV. Man wise up.

  • teleman60 Sep 6, 9:19 a.m.

    Remember : THIS IS REPUBLICAN LAW IN NC.

    NC WILL NOW BE THE PRIME DESTINATION FOR ILLEGALS FOREVER!

    9 months NO BACKGROUND CHECKS

    WHILE REPUBLICANS ARE THE PRIME VOICES CRYING AGAINST ILLEGALS ALL ACROSS AMERICA!

    Welcome to NC - Remember to turn back your clocks 50 years.

  • xylem01 Sep 6, 9:09 a.m.

    Will officers of corporations filing for new tax breaks be drug tested prior to receiving these taxpayer funded credits? Will they undergo background checks too? - jackjones2nc

    jackjones2nc YOU are SOOO very right in asking these burning questions. The PUBLIC demands corporate accountability!!

  • lopo Sep 6, 9:09 a.m.

    Working in EMS I have seen a lot of people on govt. assistance using illegal substance and selling the illegal substance to bring in extra income. Why should we let people use our hard earned tax dollars to be used for illegal dealings?

  • junkmail5 Sep 6, 8:54 a.m.

    I have to undergo drug to keep my job, why shouldn't they to keep their welfare?
    Bob3425

    Because one is done by a private business and one is done BY THE GOVERNMENT?

    Do you not understand the constitution constrains the GOVERNMENT?

    It's the same reason you can be groped and have all your luggage searched without any probable cause when you choose to fly on a commercial aircraft, but the police can not randomly do that to you walking down the street.

    Plus the whole IT COSTS MORE THAN IT SAVES part, which is aside from the legal problems with the drug testing.

    Governor McCrory's decision not to uphold the laws is troubling. He joins a growing list of politicians who seem to think they are above the law- waltindurham

    On the CONTRARY, it's an example of a politician actually upholding his oath and not enforcing an unconstitutional law.

    What's disturbing is the trend of the NCGA passing laws they KNOW aren't legal and will be tossed out as soon as they get in front of a court.

  • wildpig777 Sep 6, 8:35 a.m.

    does nc have a recall ballot-- seems to me the gov nor thinks he can cherry pick what laws he wishes to obey and which ones he chooses to ignore.

    tween the demos and the repubs north Carolina cant get a break.

  • Bob3425 Sep 6, 7:22 a.m.

    " unnecessary and unreasonably intrusive searches of North Carolinians who seek public assistance to care for their families", I have to undergo drug to keep my job, why shouldn't they to keep their welfare?

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