NCGOP overrides 5 more of Gov. Cooper’s vetoes; Lawsuits filed over voting, appointment powers bills

NCGOP overrides 5 more of Gov. Cooper’s vetoes; Lawsuits filed over voting, appointment powers bills

North Carolina Republicans earlier this week overrode five more of Gov. Roy Cooper’s legislative vetoes, marking the 19th time they have blocked the governor’s vetoes during this session.

The veto overrides will implement various controversial changes, including stripping powers from the governor, advancing a controversial pipeline project, and changing how and when people can vote.

Below is a list and short summary of each bill that Republicans overrode and what they do:

  • SB 747: Removes the three-day grace period for absentee ballots, bans the use of private money for election administration and gives partisan poll observers the right to watch people vote.
  • SB 749: Removes state and local elections board appointments from the governor and gives them to legislative leaders. The new law requires all boards to have an even number of Republicans and Democrats, which will likely result in deadlocked votes – which then go to the Republican-controlled legislature for the final decision.
  • SB 512: Targets boards such as the Department of Transportation and the Utilities Commission for more changes to appointment power, taking that power from the governor and giving it to the legislature and Council of State members.
  • SB 678: Changes the definition of “renewable energy” to “clean energy” and reclassifies nuclear energy as “clean.” The change will allow Duke Energy to meet its goals for carbon-free energy by using nuclear power. Sen. Paul Newton (R) is the bill’s sponsor and was the former state president of Duke Energy.
  • HB 600: Loosens water quality requirements for the MVP Southgate pipeline and also limits the scope of what the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality can consider when permitting hog farms. This bill will lead to dirtier water for North Carolinians and it will also have negative impacts on the state’s environment.

Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of recourse now that the vetoes were overridden and the bills have become state law. One thing that can be done – and was – is to file a lawsuit. Cooper filed a lawsuit against state lawmakers over SB 512 on Tuesday evening – just hours after they overrode his veto.

The governor called the law a “blatantly unconstitutional legislative power grab.”

“Over the years, the North Carolina Supreme Court has repeatedly held in bipartisan decisions that the legislature cannot seize executive power like this no matter what political parties control which offices,” Cooper said. “The efforts of Republican legislators to destroy the checks and balances in our constitution are bad for people and bad for our democracy.”

In addition, the Democratic National Committee and the North Carolina Democratic Party filed a lawsuit challenging Senate Bill 747, which the suit states is “designed to undermine the right to vote in North Carolina.”

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Patrick Zarcone

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