Weekly Wrap: Vetoes, alcohol regulations, school funding

Posted September 10, 2021 8:51 p.m. EDT

— More than 10 weeks into the 2021-22 fiscal year, North Carolina still lacks a state budget, which is causing problems with staffing prisons and in other sectors of state government.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger says it will be a while before Senate and House negotiators reach a compromise plan, and that will then have to be negotiated with Gov. Roy Cooper's administration. Berger, R-Rockingham, brought up the idea of more "mini-budgets" to address areas where there's little disagreement but said he's reluctant to go down that road for the third straight year.

Cooper didn't endear himself to legislative leaders by vetoing two of their pet bills on Friday. One crafted by Berger would have blocked public school teachers from promoting critical race theory in class, while the other, sponsored by House Speaker Tim Moore, would have increased penalties for causing injury or extensive property damage in a violent protest.

The governor did sign a slew of other bills, including one that makes dozens of changes to North Carolina's regulations on the sale and consumption of alcohol. People will soon be able to order liquor from state ABC stores online, get more than one drink at a time at a college athletic event and be able to walk around with drink in hand in designated "social districts" in cities and towns.

A Superior Court judge also raised the ire of legislative leaders this week by giving them a deadline to fund public schools. The ruling, which lawmakers said isn't enforceable, is part of the long-running Leandro court case to improve schools in impoverished districts.

Finally, public hearings kicked off this week as part of the upcoming redistricting process. The meetings, held in each of the 13 congressional districts by the end of the month, provide people with a chance to tell lawmakers what they would like to see as legislative and congressional voting maps are redrawn.

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