Perdue: Vetoes keep NC from moving backward

Posted July 27, 2011 12:51 p.m. EDT
Updated July 27, 2011 4:40 p.m. EDT

— As the Republican-led General Assembly continues taking aim at some of the record 15 vetoes that Gov. Beverly Perdue handed down this year, Perdue said Wednesday that the lawmakers' decisions will affect state residents for generations.

Two-thirds of both the House and Senate have voted in recent weeks to override vetoes on legislation to cap certain jury awards in medical malpractice suits, change the appeals process in the state Medicaid program, give businesses more latitude to deny jobless benefits to unemployed workers and make it tougher to implement environmental restrictions. With the overrides, all four bills are now law.

The House also voted Tuesday to override Perdue's veto of restrictions on abortions. Under the legislation, which still must be approved by the Senate, any woman seeking an abortion must first receive counseling and then wait 24 hours before undergoing the procedure.

"North Carolina's in a fight. We're in a battle for the heart and soul of this state," Perdue said during a speech to the Women's Baptist Convention in downtown Raleigh.

"He who loves God loves his brother. Well, I have to be pretty honest. I haven't been loving my brothers or all of my sisters all the time lately," she said, noting that as many as 10 of her fellow Democrats have joined Republicans in the House override votes.

First-term Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, said the string of overrides show Perdue is out of touch with the state.

"It shows that she's supremely weak," Goolsby said. "Things have changed. They have changed to a point that, I think, it's shocking to the old Democrats to realize they have so much of their party breaking ranks."

Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, said having some of his colleagues vote with the Republican majority only shows that Democrats are more free to think for themselves.

"It shows a strength on the part of the governor that she's running a party that thinks and acts for itself rather than walking in lockstep with everybody," Michaux said.

Rep. Dewey Hill, D-Columbus, who voted for some of the overrides, said Perdue "should have reconsidered her decision on some of those bills" that were vetoed.

The governor said she has a simple litmus test when issuing a veto.

"Every veto is about moving North Carolina forward," she said. "Whether it's sustained or overridden has never been an issue. I wish they were sustained, obviously, because I believe the people of North Carolina don't have a clue about the effects of some of these pieces of legislation."

Other override votes are possible this week, including legislation that would allow more oil and natural gas exploration in North Carolina and off the state's coast and that would prohibit the North Carolina Association of Educators from collecting dues from teachers through payroll deductions.

The only veto lawmakers have sustained so far this summer is on legislation that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls before casting their ballots. House Republicans said they might bring that measure up for another vote.

"For whatever reason, I was fortunate enough (Tuesday) to be able to keep that veto in place," Perdue said.

Last month, lawmakers overrode her veto on the $19.7 billion state budget.