Commentary

Editorial: NC Chamber’s criticism of Cooper veto is “HOGWASH”

Governor Cooper continues to fight the good fight. Last Friday he vetoed the General Assembly’s latest destructive proposal to advance the interests of polluters at the expense of the health (and even the property rights) of average citizens.

Not surprisingly, North Carolina’s Chamber of Commerce — a once-moderate group that has, tragically, become the mouthpiece for the ideological right — attacked the Guv’s stance as an “anti-jobs veto…[that] fails to remedy ambiguity plaguing our state’s legal system.” This morning, an excellent Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com skewered that claim.

“The North Carolina Chamber of Commerce’s reaction to Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto unfairly and inaccurately suggested the governor was anti-business, anti-jobs and anti-agriculture. For lack of a better phrase – that’s just HOGWASH.

Hog production, while certainly significant (number 2 in the nation) is just a small portion of the state’s farming economy – 3.7 percent of the value of agriculture and agribusiness in the state and 2 percent of the sector’s total employment.

Don’t be fooled. The bill Cooper vetoed last week that limits damages for North Carolina homeowners who live near hog farms – if they can prove damages in court – isn’t about being for or against agriculture.

Once again, it really is about the General Assembly, along with its wholly-owned subsidiary the N.C. Chamber of Commerce, over-reaching to control access to the courts and dictate how judges must rule.

It is all too reminiscent of when the state Chamber traded silence on legalizing discrimination in disastrous House Bill 2 in return for a provision to restrict citizens’ access to state courts to address discrimination in the workplace and to stop a minimum wage increase….

Overriding Cooper’s veto of House Bill 467 would mean that property owners will be less to protect homes from damages – water and air quality as well as property value — caused by powerful corporate interests such as massive hog producing operations and the “nuisance” from the odor, contaminated water and unhealthy airborne particles, when those operations are not properly managed.

The outcome of a veto override is at best uncertain.  But what isn’t, is the point that Cooper — a lawyer, former legislator and attorney general — was driving home.

It is time for the election-fixing, gerrymandering-obsessed legislature to stop trying to do the same with the courts.

Leave judges and juries alone and let them do their jobs.  A good start would be sustaining the governor’s veto of HB 467.”

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