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McC709It was just a few years ago that opponents of then-Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama were howling at the notion that he had voted “present” on multiple occasions while a state legislator in Illinois (something that’s permitted for lawmakers in the Land of Lincoln but not  in most states — North Carolina included).

The gist of the not-unfounded criticism at the time was that a “present” vote was and is a pretty gutless way out of taking a stance on sticky issues. If one goes to all the trouble of running for office and serving as an elected representative of the people, went/goes the reasoning, the least a lawmaker can do is to have the courage to make a decision when presented with a choice of whether something will be made law or not.

Such logic would seem to apply with even more force to a governor when it comes to approving or not approving a bill sent to him or her by a legislature. After all, it’s not like he or she is just one of a couple of hundred legislators whose vote may or may not even really matter. The constitution specifies that the decision to sign or veto a bill is his or hers alone. (It should probably also be noted that when a U.S. president fails to sign a bill while Congress is out of session, the effect is to veto the bill — the process is known as a “pocket veto.”)

This brings us, of course, to yesterday’s decision by Governor Pat McCrory to let the controversial — many would say “thoroughly inadequate” — coal ash “clean up” bill become law by simply not acting on it. Read More

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ACLU-NC statement on override of drug testing bill veto
Civil liberties group says H.B. 392 does nothing to address substance abuse and will deter many families in need from seeking assistance 

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Senate today voted to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of H.B. 392, a bill that requires some applicants to the state’s Work First program for needy families to pay up front for and submit to drug tests as a precondition of aid. The state House voted to override the veto yesterday, meaning H.B. 392 will now become law.

In announcing his veto, Gov. McCrory called H.B. 392 “a recipe for government overreach and unnecessary government intrusion … that is not a smart way to combat drug abuse.”

Sarah Preston, Policy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC), which strongly opposed the bill and urged the legislature to sustain the governor’s veto, released the following statement:

“It’s very disappointing that the legislature put so much effort into passing this cruel and constitutionally suspect bill. Read More

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Pat McCrory 5A new talking point has emerged in recent days as right-wing pundits and commentators have struggled to describe and respond to the decision of a conservative Republican General Assembly to utterly disregard two vetoes issued by a conservative Republican governor. According to the spin, the dispute is a “family disagreement.”

In this narrative, legislators and the Governor are just pals quibbling over details and Gov. McCrory has “gotten almost everything he asked for” since taking office in January.

Hmmm. Read More

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Governor Pat McCrory could see his first two vetoes overridden this afternoon with the legislature’s returns to Raleigh. In August, the governor vetoed House Bill 786, an Verify immigration bill, as well as House Bill 392, drug testing for welfare recipients.

Republicans, who support both bills, say they have the votes to override Gov. McCrory’s wishes. An override would require a vote of at least three-fifths of those present.

One bill that environmentalists had hoped would have earned the governor’s veto is not on the agenda. Governor McCrory signed the Regulatory Reform Act  late last month calling it ‘common sense legislation that promotes job creation.’

Grady McCallie of the NC Conservation Network appeared on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon over the weekend to explain why House Bill 74 was actually ‘the worst environmental bill of the legislative session.’

To learn why the 59-page, special interest bill earned that title, click below or visit the Radio Interview section of the Policy Watch website where you can download a podcast of the full interview with McCallie:
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Drug testingThe General Assembly returns to Raleigh on Tuesday to decide whether to override or sustain Governor McCrory’s veto of House Bill 392, the controversial and costly proposal to drug test public assistance recipients and applicants.

In announcing his veto of HB 392 on August 15th, the Governor said: “Similar efforts in other states have proved to be expensive and ineffective at catching drug abusers. It makes no sense to repeat those mistakes in North Carolina.” Advocates for poor people agree. As argued last night in an email alert distributed by my colleague Jeff Shaw at the NC Justice Center:

  • HB 392 shifts the focus from treatment to testing. Research shows that differences in the proportion of public assistance and non-public assistance recipients using illegal drugs are statistically insignificant. However, for those Read More