(The Center Square) – Two bills, each with nearly 20% of House Democrats in favor, have been vetoed by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
The environmental and energy proposals, respectively, are likely to line up with three other pieces of legislation to which the rejection stamp has been applied by the Democrat from Nash County. Lawmakers have attempted to override gubernatorial vetoes 16 times this session, each time successfully mustering at least 30 senators and 72 representatives to do so.
The regulatory reform proposal was “an act to provide further regulatory relief.” It impacts agriculture, energy, the environment, and natural resources; and has provisions for state and local governments.
“House Bill 600 is a good-faith effort to help reduce the regulatory burden on North Carolinians and their businesses,” Rep. Jeff Zenger, R-Forsyth, said in a statement.
Cooper’s statement said, “This bill is a hodgepodge of bad provisions that will result in dirtier water, discriminatory permitting and threats to North Carolina’s environment. It also undoes a significant policy to promote fairness in state contracting for historically underutilized businesses as it blocks efforts to encourage diverse suppliers for state purchases, rules that would save taxpayer dollars and help businesses grow.”
No Republicans opposed the bill in either chamber, and no Senate Democrats were in favor. There were aye votes from Rep. Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford; Rep. Carla Cunningham, D-Mecklenburg; Rep. Ray Jeffers, D-Person; Rep. Nasif Majeed, D-Mecklenburg; Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland; Rep. James Roberson, D-Wake; Rep. Shelly Willingham, D-Edgecombe; and Rep. Michael Wray, D-Northampton.
A clean energy proposal, which had other changes attached, sought to define just what “clean energy” is and dealt with nuclear facilities, among other things. It also had a public records provision tucked in late, which would have allowed lawmakers to keep some of their public records secret.
Cooper’s statement said, “North Carolina is on a bipartisan path to removing carbon from our electric power sector in the most cost-effective way. This bill attempts to diverge from that path by trying to put construction of traditional power plants, and higher profits for the utility companies, over lower-cost solutions like energy efficiency. North Carolina should consider all pathways to decarbonize, rather than putting a thumb on the scale in favor of building new conventional generation.”
Critics believe a thumb is already on the scale for green energy plans, not only in Raleigh but also inside the Beltway via the Biden administration.
“Gov. Cooper’s hardline opposition to nuclear power is a slap in the face to North Carolina’s energy industry,” read a statement from Sen. Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus. “He would rather glorify the Green New Deal than strengthen energy production in our state. I look forward to overriding his veto and ensuring that North Carolina can have a reliable electrical grid.”
Voting here mirrored the regulatory reform act, with nine Democrats in the House casting ayes. Among those nine, however, Roberson did not and Rep. Diamond Staton-Williams, D-Cabarrus, did.
Cooper took office in January 2017 and has issued 94 vetoes, the middle 47 having stuck when Republicans did not have supermajorities. With a Republican supermajority, lawmakers were 23-for-23 in 2017-18 and so far this year have been 14-for-14, with five yet to be challenged. There were 13 unsuccessful tries.
Nineteen of 20 Democratic senators and 32 of the 48 Democratic representatives have at least once switched their vote when it came to the override, led respectively by the five of Sen. Sydney Batch, D-Wake, and six of Pierce.