It seems like a safe bet that every Governor given the option probably uses it, but there’s something enormously frustrating about Governor Perdue’s penchant for simply taking no action at all on bills sent to her by the General Assembly. This was the approach she took once again this past weekend on a controversial bill opposed by the entire Asheville City Council.
As constitutional scholars out there will no doubt recall, the Governor of North Carolina has three choices when it comes to most of the bills passed by the legislature: 1) sign them, 2) veto them or 3) do nothing — in which case the bill becomes law as if she had signed it. (Some bills become law immediately without ever being presented to the Governor).
The reasons for the decision to provide option #3 probably appear in the record of the debate surrounding the amendment that gave the Governor the veto back in the 1990’s and I’m willing to be persuaded that they make some kind of sense. But from the perspective of a simple, common sense test, it’s hard tosee what they possibly are.
Legislators have to vote “yes or “no.” Why does the Governor get to vote “present?”
Also, as a practical matter, what in the heck is preventing Perdue from making a “yea” or “nay” decision? After all, she has only four months left to serve.
The implication of this Asheville Citizen-Times story is that she didn’t like the bill, but figured lawmakers might override her. Well, so what? How about standing up and making your case?
Some have also hypothesized that the Guv didn’t want to take a chance on vetoing the bill because lawmakers might come back to Raleigh to override it and then get into some other additional mischief.
Hmmm. maybe. But they can do that any time they feel like it. Indeed, it seems just as likely, given all the negative publicity they’ve had lately, that legislative leaders might just have been the ones to let the matter go until 2013.
Bottom line: Lawmakers sent the Governor a flawed bill. She knew it and still did nothing about it. All in all, it’s another frustrating, low energy moment from an administration that’s had a lot of them.