Sep 5, 2013
North Carolina General Assembly Overrides Two Vetoes
The North Carolina General Assembly convened this week for a special session to reconsider two pieces of legislation that were vetoed by Governor Pat McCrory last month. When the General Assembly adjourned for the 2013 legislative session on July 26th, there were still several dozen bills pending signature by the Governor. After vetoing the two pieces of legislation, he had 40 days to call the legislature back into session, to reconsider the vetoes.
House Bill 392, Warrant Status/Drug Screen Public Assist, was the first veto issued by the administration since taking office in January. HB 392 requires county social service offices to verify whether an applicant is a fleeing felon, and to share that information with law enforcement, as well as mandates welfare applicants to pass a drug test.
Governor McCrory said that he vetoed HB 392 because the General Assembly provided inadequate funding for implementation of the law, and also for the reason that he felt it was not an effective tool to combat drug problems in the state. Notwithstanding his veto, the Governor did agree with the portions of the bill that required sharing about felons across state agencies and with law enforcement, so he issued an executive order that requires state agencies to develop a plan on sharing this information about fugitive felons.
Advocates of the bill in the legislature said that it provides safeguards for the state’s public assistance system. HB 392 originally passed the House with bipartisan support, 92-21, as well as the Senate, 42-4. The House and Senate voted to override the Governor’s rejection of the bill this week with votes of 77-39 and 34-10, respectively. HB 392, Warrant Status/Drug Screen Public Assist, became session law on Wednesday.
Shortly after vetoing HB 392, McCrory rejected HB 786, RECLAIM NC Act, an immigration-related bill that directs the Department of Public Safety to study the potential impact on the state of several proposed immigration law reforms in NC, including the idea of issuing restricted driver’s licenses to people who are in the country illegally.
The Governor specifically objected to loosening the requirement for employers to use the E-Verify system to check the immigration status of their employees. Before HB 786 was approved, state law said that seasonal workers did not have to be checked on the E-Verify system if they were in the country for 90 days or less. HB 786 has now expanded that exemption for anyone hired up to nine months.
Proponents of the measure, including the NC Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, said they needed the bill. The backers explained that immigrant workers commonly work three or four crops, therefore 90 days simply was not enough time. Those who supported the Governor’s veto of HB 786 argued that this bill will allow a loophole for more than just the agricultural industry to hire workers in the country illegally, and will keep citizens from getting jobs that will now go to illegal immigrants instead.
HB 786 also garnered up bipartisan support in both chambers, originally passing the House 85-28, and overriding the veto 84-32. The Senate initially passed the legislation on a 43-1 vote, and approved it again 39-5 on Wednesday.
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