Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed legislation that would have led to Guilford County newspapers losing government advertising revenue.
The bill, put forward by state Sen. Trudy Wade (R-Guilford), did not pass with enough support to overturn a veto. It’s a political loss for Wade, who has had fierce struggles with the News & Record – the largest paper in Guilford County – for years. The paper has published a number of editorials very critical of Wade from her time on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and Greensboro City Council to her current role in the Senate. She also objected to news reports from papers and TV stations that covered some of the more controversial moves of her political career.
Full disclosure: I worked for the News & Record for more than a decade, covering everything from cops and courts to county, city and state government.
That experience gave me a front-row seat to Wade’s struggles with media and makes this report from Travis Fain at WRAL sound very familiar.
Wade and other bill supporters, including Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, a Rockingham County Republican whose district includes parts of Guilford County, said the bill was about modernizing legal notices and saving local governments money. It would have allowed governments to publish notices on a website instead of paying to advertise in a local newspaper.
This would have been a local option, not required.
Cooper dismissed the bill as an attempt by legislators to use “the levers of big government to attack important institutions in our state who may disagree with them from time to time.”
“Unfortunately, this legislation is another example of that misguided philosophy meant to specifically threaten and harm the media,” he said in a veto statement.
Wade said in her own statement that Cooper’s “veto of bipartisan legislation eliminating special carve-outs for the newspaper industry makes it clear his number one priority is brown-nosing those who cover him.”
The bill had some statewide impact, including from language that dealt with part-time newspaper carriers and would have made it easier for them to file worker’s compensation claims.
Wade said Cooper’s “brown nosing” was “to the detriment of the newspaper employees being denied workers compensation coverage” as well as “the taxpayers currently being forced to subsidize newspapers.”
There was also language doing away with a requirement that newspapers have a physical address in the county in which they sell public notice space. That would have opened the door for the North State Journal, a statewide publication launched by former members of Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration, to run government notices.
This isn’t Wade’s first swing at something like this and it likely won’t be her last. Like President Donald Trump, for whom Wade stumped in Guilford County, Wade’s antagonism to media is deep and abiding.