Local News

Hunt Signs Bill

Posted February 27, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Gov. Jim Hunt used 10 pens Thursday to sign the first bill that required the governor's signature to become law in more than 200 years.

``This is not a one-pen signing,'' Hunt said as he worked his way through the line of $25 silver-and-gold Cross pens. He used three of them to sign his name and the others to fill in the date and time. The 10th pen made the last downward slash on the 7 in 1997.

Hunt, and no other governor for the last 200 years, has had any practice signing legislation.

The last bill that required a governor's signature to become law was signed on March 24, 1774. That bill, signed by colonial Gov. Josiah Martin, outlawed hunting at night by firelight.

Martin disbanded the Legislature, but lawmakers formed a provisional congress that passed laws during the American Revolution and ignored the governor.

The first state constitution, and its several rewrites since, did not give the governor veto power.

Voters changed that last November when they approved veto power. North Carolina was the last state to extend that power to its governor.

``People gave a resounding yes to this,'' Hunt said as he prepared to sign the bill setting out the process for vetoing legislation. ``I think what they said was they wanted to us working together.

``This is no panacea, but I can already see it's having an effect,'' he said.

``Well, sir, did you ever think you'd see this day?'' Hunt said to former Gov. Terry Sanford, who joined him for the signing.

Hunt gave a pen to Sanford; state Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, who sponsored the bill Hunt signed; Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker; Rep. Toby Fitch, D-Wilson; and Franklin Freeman, Hunt's chief of staff.

He said he also would send a pen to former Republican Gov. Jim Martin, who campaigned for veto power during his two terms and led a campaign by former governors for the measure last fall.

Asked what he would do with the other pens, Hunt responded, ``One will go to the archives. I might try to have one for myself. The others, we'll see about.''

By DENNIS PATTERSON,Associated Press Writer Copyright ©1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.