Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed four bills so far, and has only been in office for five months. At the rate the Democrat is dipping into the red ink, an appropriation may need to be added to the budget for a fresh supply, and perhaps a new veto stamp.
Another Democratic governor, Beverly Perdue, holds the distinction of most gubernatorial vetoes since 1997, the first legislative year the state’s governor could wield that power. During the four years that she occupied the governor’s mansion, Perdue issued 20 vetoes of legislation passed by the General Assembly.
Pat McCrory, a Republican, stamped “VETO” on six pieces of legislation during his four years as governor.
Cooper first vetoed HB 100, “Restore Partisan Elections/Superior and District Courts.” The bill provided that elections of Superior Court and District Court judges be partisan. Cooper vetoed it on March 16. The General Assembly overrode his veto on March 23, and the bill became law on that date.
The next use of the veto stamp by Cooper came on April 21, on HB 239, “Reduce Court of Appeals to 12 Judges.” The title of the bill explains what the bill does, bringing the overall number of judges on the NC Court of Appeals down from 15 to 12. The General Assembly overrode Cooper’s veto on April 26, and the bill became law on that date.
On April 24, Cooper vetoed SB 68, “Bipartisan Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.” The bill establishes a combined State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. A similar bill had been struck down by a federal three-judge panel. This bill gave the authority to appoint members to the board to the governor, a point House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said should make the bill comply with the judges’ previous concerns.
Moore and Berger said in a statement, “We have complied with the court’s order and restored the governor’s ability to make all appointments to that board, yet he is still fighting measures to increase bipartisan cooperation.” The General Assembly overrode Cooper’s veto on April 25, and the bill became law on that date.
Cooper filed a lawsuit against the bill, and on June 1 a three-judge panel unanimously voted to dismiss the suit.
Cooper’s fourth veto came on May 5, and was aimed at HB 467, “Agriculture and Forestry Nuisance Remedies.” The bill presented by its sponsor, Rep. Jimmy Dixon (R-Duplin) as necessary to protect farmers from damaging lawsuits by limiting the amount of damages a plaintiff could receive when suing a farm as a nuisance. Cooper said that weakening nuisance laws related to farming could lead to a weakening of those laws related to other industries and could have an adverse effect on homeowners.
The General Assembly overrode Cooper’s veto on May 10, and the bill became law on that date.
Of the 20 bills that Perdue vetoed, 11 were overridden by the General Assembly and became law. Of McCrory’s six vetoes, four were overridden and became law.
So far, Cooper is 0-4 in his efforts to stop legislation from becoming law by using his veto power. Whether he will top Perdue’s 20 is anyone’s guess, but he has set a brisk veto pace at the beginning of his term, although she had already vetoed six bills by mid-June 2011.