With the Long Session coming to a close just before the new fiscal year began July 1, the overarching tone of the session has been a struggle between the Republican leadership, going into its seventh year controlling the legislature, and newly minted Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper.
Apart from the partisan rhetorical barbs that were traded between the State Legislative Building and the Governor’s Mansion throughout the six-month session, there were vetoes and veto overrides, power plays and more between the opposing parties.
Over the course of the session, Cooper vetoed six bills, five of which were overridden by the legislature. The sixth veto came on Friday when both chambers were already leaving for the year; however, they could return to take up Cooper’s veto.
The bill, HB576, would have allowed for wastewater treatment facilities to aerosolize leachate fluids, or wastewater that has been treated by running it through a solid to strip solids from the liquid.
Cooper said that scientists, not legislators, should decide what technologies are safe for the environment when it comes to disposal of waste.
The bill was sent to his desk June 20 and he vetoed it June 30. A bill that is on the governor’s desk for more than 10 days will become law without the governor’s signature.
When a governor vetoes legislation outside of the session, then the legislature must be called back into session to take up a possible vet override, unless the legislature sends a letter, signed by a majority of members, saying that no veto override vote is necessary.
If the governor does not call the legislature back by the 40th day following the veto, then the veto is negated and the bill becomes law.
So far Cooper has signed 38 bills sent to his desk from the legislature, while one has become law without his signature.
There are 111 bills left on Cooper’s desk that he can sign, veto, or leave to become law without his signature.
The major piece of legislation for the session, the budget, was a large point of contention between the legislature and Cooper, who railed against provision in the budget, and then finally vetoed the budget bill, HB257, at which point the legislature overrode his veto.
What will happen to the remaining bills on the governor’s desk remains to be seen.
Senate Leader Sen. Phil Berger (Rockingham) said of the session in a release announcing the adjournment on Friday after midnight: “I am proud of the hard work and discipline of my Republican colleagues, who fulfilled their promises to further reduce taxes on middle-class families and job-creators, provide a fourth consecutive teacher pay raise, appropriate nearly $700 million more for public education, and rebuild communities devastated by Hurricane Matthew – all while saving for a rainy day. Republicans’ ongoing commitment to spending discipline and tax relief [has] resulted in consecutive years of balanced budgets and large revenue surpluses, while other states that subscribe to liberal tax-and-spend philosophies, like Illinois, are going bankrupt.”
House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) also released a statement on the session, saying, “We’re here to help North Carolina’s economy grow by being good stewards of public dollars, offering students an excellent education system and providing middle class tax relief wherever we can. The House agenda is focused on the prosperity of our people – North Carolina natives and new arrivals alike – and making the tough choices and key reforms necessary to improve state government and secure a successful future for our citizens.
“Thanks to the hard work of the Republican-led General Assembly, North Carolina families can have confidence that they live in one of the best states to build a high quality of life – one with sound financial footing, low taxes and record savings that prepare us for emergencies. Republicans’ pro-growth tax relief, education investments and economic reforms allow small businesses to invest with the assurance that North Carolina offers a well-trained workforce and top-tier opportunities for job creation.
“I appreciate the hard work of every House member this session, all the legislative staff and each citizen of North Carolina who we are so proud to serve statewide.”
Sen. Andrew Brock (R-Rowan) resigned his Senate seat after 14 years in the legislature. Brock sent his resignation to Cooper, effective Friday.