State News

State lawmakers will try to override Easley veto

Posted August 25, 2008

— State lawmakers will return to Raleigh Wednesday to try to override the governor's veto on a bill that would relax boat-towing restrictions for North Carolina motorists.

Earlier this month, Gov. Mike Easley vetoed House Bill 2167, which would have allowed drivers to pull boats up to 10 feet wide on any day of the week without first obtaining a special permit. Motorists also would have been allowed to tow watercraft up to 9.5 feet wide at night.

State law allows boats up to 8.5 feet wide to be towed only during daylight hours on weekdays.

In pushing for the legislation this summer, lawmakers had said the current law jeopardized the state's ability to host competitive fishing tournaments and severely limited North Carolina boaters' ability to take weekend trips.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol, however, says the changes proposed in the legislation would jeopardize safety on the state's roads and highways, especially at night, when visibility is limited.

"If this bill becomes law, allowing these overwidth boats to travel on our highways and roads at night, someone's husband, someone's wife, someone's child will be killed, and the governor and I don't want to be a part of that," Bryan Beatty, secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, said last week.

"Gov. Easley's formeost priority is safety on our highways," his spokesman, Seth Effron, said in a statement Monday afternoon.

Approximately 26,000 miles of the state's roads are two-lanes on which each lane is 9.5 feet or less wide. Another 29,000 miles have lanes 10.5 feet or less.

To revive the measure, three-fifths of the House and Senate members present in each chamber would need to vote for the measure.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously. The House approved it 108-5.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Arthur Williams, D-Beaufort, has challenged Easley's claims that the measure is unsafe, saying that the wider boats would be resting on the same-size trailers and that an extra 5 or 6 inches on each side would not jeopardize motorists' safety.

Under state law, whenever a bill is vetoed while the General Assembly is out of session, the governor must call a special session to give lawmakers the option of overriding the move. Legislators can choose not to return to special session if there is no support for an override.

Bill Holmes, a spokesman for House Speaker Joe Hackney, said most House lawmakers have said they want to override Easley's veto.

House Bill 2167 is the ninth bill Easley has vetoed during his eight years in office. None of the previous eight was overridden.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Bob3425 Aug 26, 2008


    I could not agree with you more, election are nearing.

  • Jeff_W Aug 25, 2008

    As I said when this story aired the first time... It is nice to know that with all the problems plaguing our society (i.e. violence, gangs, cost of living, surging oil and food prices, failing edukashun systems) the most important thing that our legislatures feels the need to tackle immediately is BOAT TOWING!

    It would be nice if our legislators would come back to the real world and address the issues that matter. Maybe if they spent less time worrying about getting their boat to the coast, I could afford to get my CAR to WORK!!!!!! Or maybe you could get to work without getting carjacked on the way to work!!!!

    WTG NC Legislature!! Keep up the good work.

  • hotspot Aug 25, 2008


    These boats have been on the roads in NC for many many years and have operated in a safe manner.

    The large majority of boats that are effected by the recent enforcement of the SHP are actually legal with the exception of "guide posts" that are added to the trailer. The guide posts are used to aid with loading of the boat at the ramp. Guide posts are a great safety feature.

    I took my guide posts off my trailer this past weekend so I would not get harassed.

    I will put them back on Wednesday, around 1:00PM, for sure.

    Thanks to ALL representatives for coming back to override this non-sense.

  • DrJ Aug 25, 2008

    The governor is out in left field on this one. Did he perhaps solicit boat manufacturers for a payoff, and they refused?

    First of all, the boats covered by this law are already allowed on NC roads. They're just not allowed at night, weekends, or holidays, and pulling them requires a permit.

    You ask, "What do you mean, they're allowed during rush hour through the week, but not allowed on a Saturday morning at 4am? Yep, that's exactly what I'm saying!

    So obviously, this nonsense about safety is something the gov has manufactured to support a stance he can't by facts.

  • romex Aug 25, 2008

    great over ride I had much ruther be on the road with wider boats than drunk illegals that easley gave drivers license to glad he will be gone soon.

  • Just the facts mam Aug 25, 2008

    The legislatures are coming back for this??? How idiotic!

  • lizard Aug 25, 2008

    Hello everyone! Let me give you naysayers a tip. If any portion of a boat or anything crosses over the centerline that driver buys everything. So if there are going to be all these boats on these phantam narrow roads that you all speak of, they better learn how to move a little off the shoulder. Whatever they do it's up to them to watch out on less than half the roads in NC. Widen the rest by adding 6" of pavement next time and it's a non-issue.

  • lizard Aug 25, 2008

    pbjbeach - i for one am thankful you have been set free. Your message is about as sensible as the roads you helped build. Maybe the conservatives you speak of didn't have a lot of quality help.

  • dbbritt67 Aug 25, 2008

    Mike, will you please quit now so you can't do any more harm to this state. I can't remember the last time that I saw in the news where a boat being towed has killed anybody. I think that the SHP and other public safety officers have killed more people on the roads in car accidents than boats.

  • pbjbeach Aug 25, 2008

    Believe you me there are some realy smart an arrogrant people that work at the ncdot now a days if you don't belive me as to what i have written here just take a minute an ask some of these smart people if they arent smart an they will certainly tell you just how manny degrees that they have. but to my way of thinking a degree is just about as useful as toliet paper maybe not as much so if they don't have the work experience to go along with that degree just look at what has happen within the ncdot over the last past 15 - 20 years every since the republicans an a handful of right wing democrats have taken over an are running the ncdot into the ground an the good road state is no longer the good road state, an i like a fool used to care about things like this but not any more because ncdot has set me free thank you