AG says governor can't ignore ferry law

Posted April 13, 2012

— Attorney General Roy Cooper says Gov. Bev Perdue can't ignore legislative budget writers by refusing to increase ferry tolls at the coast.

“It is our opinion that the state law as passed by the legislature must be followed. It was the legislature’s decision to collect tolls and the legislature has the authority to remove them," Cooper said Friday.

He has issued a letter saying that Perdue's executive order "raises substantial concerns under our Constitution," and suggests that Perdue should implement the new tolls.

Perdue stayed the new tolls in February saying that the poor economy and ongoing recovery from bad storms in 2011 made this the wrong time to impose new fees on eastern residents. 

Her office has yet to issue a response, but has said in the past that the General Assembly could clear away the executive order by putting a relatively minor change in the law.

Grier Beaty, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation said her agency would "stay the course" and continue to follow the executive order until directed to do otherwise. The attorney general's letter doesn't change that, she said.

Lawmakers say they were happy the attorney general sided with them.

"The governor exceeded her constitutional authority when she ordered her administration to violate the law," said Amy Auth, a spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger. "We are please the attorney general reaffirmed the separation of powers and upheld the constitution." 

 Update (2:37 p.m.): Chris Mackey, a spokeswoman for Gov. Bev Perdue, had this to say:

“The Governor believes her executive order is both legal and right. The Governor issued her order because she doesn’t think it is right to collect ferry taxes from working families in eastern North Carolina.

“If the Republican leaders of the General Assembly are determined to collect the ferry tax, they can do it when they return to Raleigh in ten days. The Governor’s executive order clearly states that the General Assembly can vote to end the moratorium at any time.”

Update (3:56 p.m.): After hearing from Perdue and the DOT, Auth then had this to say:

"Based on the attorney general's opinion, the ball is in the governor's court. The General Assembly already voted on this matter when we passed our budget last year and an executive order cannot erase a law. If Gov. Perdue continues to direct the Department of Transportation to follow her order, then it is clear she has absolutely no regard for North Carolina's laws and constitution."


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  • laviemarie67 Apr 16, 2012

    As for inlanders not having to pay for ferry rides, I am totally aggravated that that mentality goes to waterfront insurance too. I really, really don't want to pay more than my property is worth so anyone, rich or poor, can't afford their insurance or taxes on resort structures. Let them have a fund raiser and folks decide whether to donate or not. To raise my insurance for insurance or my taxes for ferry rides is forced charity (robbing). Oh, so sad, that is the same thing obama wants the country to do... pay for folks who want to live above their personal ability. Is that a gene found in democrats? or just a way to buy votes you wouldn't be able to get based on your abilities and personality?

  • laviemarie67 Apr 16, 2012

    Funny how poor ferry riders don't need increase, but all NC folks were hit with increase in gas tax at Bev's request. Wonder who itch she is scratching in the ferry decision. She seems to always react to either scratching someone's back or whacking someon in the back if she doesn't think they blindly support her. But those traits got to to the governor's house, so I guess she has used those traits well.

  • karmagrant Apr 13, 2012

    I don't care how she "feels". She's not there to tell us how she feels. She's there to lead and follow laws like everyone else.

  • driverkid3 Apr 13, 2012

    Perdue doesn't take into account that her tax raisings will hurt people in this poor economy, or either the tolls that she got going. What's her problem with the ferry money? Does she have "special friends" down on the coast that would whine or something?

  • InTheNo Apr 13, 2012

    PoorOlCountryBoy - are you on drugs or do you just hate everyone that's not a left-wing democrat liberal?

    I don't hate you. I DO feel sorry for you.

  • boneymaroney13 Apr 13, 2012

    PoorOlCountryBoy - are you on drugs or do you just hate everyone that's not a left-wing democrat liberal?

  • boneymaroney13 Apr 13, 2012

    "Perdue stayed the new tolls in February saying that the poor economy and ongoing recovery from bad storms in 2011 made this the wrong time to impose new fees. . . . " and it's a good time to raise taxes and ignor the gas tax increase?!!!! You don't have a clue!

  • s.wake.co Apr 13, 2012

    "Why is it that the BHI ferry is private yet the state operates almost every other ferry in NC? Here is a suggestion, let's turn the entire ferry system over to the private sector." - Honesty first

    Why should the tax payers all across the state subsidize the transportation cost for PRIVATE citizens to go back and forth from/to their homes because they live on a PRIVATELY owned island? Do you really think governement can provide that service cheaper than BHIT? If you do, I have some beachfront property in Montana I'll sell you for a song. If $26 is too much, why don't the PRIVATE citizens living on and owning property on the island spring for having a bridge built and maintained in perpetuity between Southport and BHI?

  • InTheNo Apr 13, 2012

    If YOU use the ferry, YOU pay for it. Do not expect those of us living inland who rarely if ever use the ferries pay half your fare. C'mon Bev, stop trying to be Obama! Z Man Right. There are also lots of bridges and roads across the state that I seldom or NEVER have been on. I resent my gas taxes going to those folks in the mountains having TAX SUPPORTED bridges that they use to cross water that they have no other way of crossing. I think every bridge and ferry in the state should charge tolls just to be equitable. If you want to use it, pay for it yourself.

    do you have children in the public school system?

  • InTheNo Apr 13, 2012

    i don't think you can have a more clear, easy to interpret case to show who in our government is for the working people of north carolina and who could care less about them and is out to make a point that they are in charge now.

    the republican legislature wants to take money out of our pockets to get over to the outer banks and the governor is saying no. if you have a problem seeing that then you've been listening to too much rush limbaugh. if you're not a multi-millionaire then you should be in support of the governor on this. if you are a multimillionaire then you probably don't mind paying a fair share of tax to see that the schools and ferries in your state are funded.

    so that leaves us with only a few hypocrite, rebuplican politicians who are out to get votes by posing as a bunch of conservative, religious, flag waving, gun carrying, red-blooded americans who are the ones that want to take your hard earned pay check and make you spend it to get across the water.

    just to show