by Barry Smith
The action taken by Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday, vetoing two bills, means that he might have to call the General Assembly back to Raleigh.
The N.C. Constitution says that if the governor vetoes a bill after the General Assembly has adjourned, he’ll have to call them back to the capital to give them an opportunity to override the veto, should they so desire.
However, there’s one way out. If he receives a written request from a majority of both chambers saying that an override session is unnecessary, he won’t have to call them back.
Both bills passed by veto-proof majorities, with room to spare. The drug testing for Work First applicants bill passed 92-21 in the House and 42-4 in the Senate. The e-verify bill passed 85-28 in the House and 43-1 in the Senate.
The N.C. Constitution requires a three-fifths majority of the members present and voting in each chamber. That’s 72 votes in the House and 30 votes in the Senate, if all members are present and voting.
House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said he would consult with House and Senate members before deciding how to proceed on the drug testing bill:
“I am disappointed with the Governor’s decision to veto this bill, although his Executive Order does seek to implement portions of the measure. This straightforward bill would deny government assistance to a felon fleeing from justice or to those who have violated parole. It would require a drug test of welfare applicants only if there is a reasonable suspicion of active drug use, enabling our state to locate and assist individuals battling drug addiction while cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse of a system that is depended on by our most vulnerable citizens. This bill would establish safeguards for our state’s public assistance system, ensuring compliance with federal laws and guaranteeing that recipients are law-abiding individuals. While Gov. McCrory’s Executive Order shows agreement on important aspects of the bill, I will consult with members of the House and Senate on the questions that remain as we move forward.”
On the e-verify bill, Tillis said:
“We regret the Governor’s decision to veto this bill, and we are consulting with our caucus regarding future legislative action. The primary objective of the bill is to address immigration procedures and policies that Washington has neglected for years, causing serious problems for employers and job creators in North Carolina. The regulatory burden and complexity caused by federal inaction requires us to consider stop-gap measures while we wait for politicians in D.C. to take action. This bill received strong bipartisan support and sought to provide clarity to employers and agencies regarding the impact of illegal immigration in North Carolina.”
Meanwhile, the ACLU of North Carolina has applauded the veto of the drug testing bill. Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU of NC, said:
“We applaud the governor’s veto of a measure that would have opened the door to costly and unnecessary government intrusions into the physical privacy of North Carolinians who need public assistance to care for their families. Our state and federal constitutions protect the privacy and dignity of all North Carolinians against unreasonable searches, and all available evidence has shown that welfare applicants are no more likely to use drugs than the general public. In fact, the evidence suggests that their rate of drug use is lower than that of the general public. Forcing people in need to pay up front for an invasive test without reasonable suspicion of drug use would have been cruel, costly, and constitutionally suspect. We are very pleased the governor has rejected this measure.”