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NC House, Senate override two vetoes

Published 8:59am Thursday, September 5, 2013

RALEIGH – Apparently, the political honeymoon in Raleigh is over.

On Wednesday, the Republican-led NC Senate followed suit of their GOP majority counterparts in the House of Representatives and overrode two vetoes by Republican Governor Pat McCrory.

Meanwhile, McCrory, in a press release sent yesterday (Wednesday), has vowed not to enforce a recently passed law requiring welfare recipients reasonably suspected of drug use be tested for drugs. The Governor also pointed out a loophole in another newly created law on immigrant labor, saying it could cost jobs for legal North Carolina citizens.

McCrory vetoed both laws, but that effort was erased by a majority vote of both legislative chambers of the NC General Assembly, who were summoned back to Raleigh by the Governor for a special session.

“Despite some divisive, partisan rhetoric from special interest groups, the truth is most bills pass the General Assembly with broad, bipartisan support,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) in a press release sent to this newspaper and other media outlets statewide.

“These two bills are no different – they are a product of Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate working together to make a positive and lasting impact on our state,” he added.

House Bill 392 increases accountability in the distribution of public benefits by allowing drug tests only if there is a reasonable suspicion of drug abuse by an applicant of a public services program. Senate Republicans said this bill ensures that benefits reach the state’s most vulnerable citizens and helps provide state-funded treatment for those who need it – while protecting taxpayers from inadvertently funding drug use.

House Bill 786 protects North Carolina’s agriculture industry – which contributes more than $75 billion annually to the state’s economy and employs close to 20 percent of its workers – by removing a duplicative background check requirement on legal immigrant labor.

However, McCrory saw things differently. He noted the passage of what he called “flawed legislation during the last hours of session with little debate, understanding or transparency.”

“House bill 786 triples the E-Verify seasonal worker exemption from 90 days to nearly nine months and has created a loophole that could cost legal North Carolinians jobs,” McCrory said. “This measure changes the law’s focus from exempting ‘temporary seasonal employees’ to help the state’s farming industry to exempting a category of employees for any industry, regardless of the season or the needs. Thus, I will direct the executive branch to explore all legal and executive authority to ensure the letter and spirit of our nation’s immigration law is followed in this state.”

As for House Bill 392, McCrory said, “Based upon the lawmakers’ vote on drug testing, the executive branch will not take any action on the new law’s implementation until sufficient funds with this unfunded mandate are provided, not only for the Department of Health and Human Services, but also the funding for consistent application across all 100 counties.”

That statement sparked a response from Berger.

“Article III, Section 5, Part 4 of the North Carolina Constitution requires the Governor to faithfully execute the laws passed by the General Assembly. All governors, without regard to party, swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. We expect Gov. McCrory to perform his constitutional duty to enforce the law,” Berger said.

State Senate Democratic leader Martin Nesbitt also weighed in on McCrory’s stated intention to not enforce a controversial drug-testing law passed by legislative Republicans over the governor’s veto.

“The governor vetoed the measure despite not commenting on the legislation during the legislative session,” Nesbitt said. “The governor’s office contended that he was negotiating with Senate Republicans until the last possible moment, but the governor was not present for the vote to override.

“Throughout session, Governor McCrory chose not to lead or engage while legislative Republicans hurt students, seniors, and working families across North Carolina,” Nesbitt added. “Now he’s trying to pass the blame for the budget he signed and put himself above the law. Leadership is about hard work and principle – and the people of this state deserve better.”

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