Last year, voters in North Carolina elected Roy Cooper, a Democrat, as governor. They also returned a Republican super-majority in the General Assembly. Predictably, this combination has resulted in sustained conflict throughout the legislative session.
One major sign of this conflict is the fact that Governor Cooper vetoed 13 bills during his first year in office. Legislators overrode ten of those vetoes. Here is a list of some of the bills that legislators enacted over the governor’s objection:
Senate Bill 656, Eliminate primary elections for judges and justices: Passed 70 to 44 in the House and 30 to 16 in the Senate.
To end primary elections for judges and state Supreme Court justices, instead listing all candidates with their political affiliations on the general election ballots. The bill would also make it easier for other political parties to gain state recognition and for unaffiliated candidates to get listed on ballots. It would lower the threshold to win a primary election plurality to 30% of the vote.
House Bill 56, Fund Cape Fear River cleanup and end bag ban: Passed 61 to 44 in the House and 29 to 10 in the Senate.
To make several changes to state environmental laws. Among other things, the bill would appropriate additional state funds to support cleanup and monitoring efforts of the Cape Fear River in the wake of the "GenX" chemical discharge. It would also repeal a prohibition against retailers in Outer Banks counties from using plastic bags and paper bags composed of less than 40 percent recycled paper.
House Bill 100, Show political party labels of judge candidates on ballot: Passed 65 to 51 in the House and 32 to 15 in the Senate.
To print superior and district court judge candidates' party affiliations on voter ballots. Elections for these judgeships used to be partisan until 1996 for superior court and 2001 for district court. This bill would repeal state law making them nonpartisan. Similar legislation passed in December 2016 to make North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals elections partisan.
House Bill 239, Cut the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12: Passed 71 to 42 in the House and 30 to 13 in the Senate.
To reduce the size of the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12. The bill would do that by abolishing the next three incumbent judges' seats that become vacant.
House Bill 467, Limit damage awards for hog farm odors and other disturbances: Passed 68 to 47 in the House and 30 to 19 in the Senate.
To limit damage awards for when bad smells, noises, etc. from hog farms, livestock, poultry farms, tree harvesting operations, etc. interfere with people's private enjoyment of their own property. The bill would set compensation for a "nuisance disturbance" to the reduction in the property's fair market value caused by the disturbance, and cap it at fair market value.
Senate Bill 257, Set the state budget for 2018-19: Passed 39 to 11 in the Senate and 77 to 38 in the House.
To enact the state budget for the 2018-19 biennium. Highlights include a 5.9% increase in spending over two years; reductions in personal and corporate income tax rates; a 9.6% increase in teacher pay over two years; reduced funding for the governor's office and the Justice Department; and funding for the state's rainy-day fund and a new reserve for capital investments, repairs, renovations, and debt service.
Do you think that Governor Cooper is right to veto bills dealing with the state budget, the judiciary, and other issues? Or is the governor trying to stop needed reform in North Carolina government?