Source: Editorial Board
North Carolina Republicans have now overridden five more of Gov. Roy Cooper’s legislative vetoes, marking the 19th time they have blocked the governor’s vetoes during this session – but Democrats, advocates and pro-democracy groups are fighting back.
The veto overrides will implement various controversial changes, including stripping powers from the governor, advancing a controversial pipeline project, and changing how and when people can vote.
Here are the five bills Republicans overrode vetoes on and what each one does:
- SB 747: Removes the three-day grace period for absentee ballots, bans the use of private money for election administration and gives partisan poll observers the right to watch people vote. It also makes changes to same-day registration.
- SB 749: Removes state and local elections board appointments from the governor and gives them to legislative leaders. The new law requires all boards to have an even number of Republicans and Democrats, which will likely result in deadlocked votes – which then go to the Republican-controlled legislature for the final decision.
- SB 512: Targets boards such as the Department of Transportation and the Utilities Commission for more changes to appointment power, taking that power from the governor and giving it to the legislature and Council of State members.
- SB 678: Changes the definition of “renewable energy” to “clean energy” and reclassifies nuclear energy as “clean.” The change will allow Duke Energy to meet its goals for carbon-free energy by using nuclear power. Sen. Paul Newton (R) is the bill’s sponsor and was the former state president of Duke Energy.
- HB 600: Loosens water quality requirements for the MVP Southgate pipeline and also limits the scope of what the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality can consider when permitting hog farms. This bill will lead to dirtier water for North Carolinians and it will also have negative impacts on the state’s environment.
Cooper filed a lawsuit against state lawmakers over SB 512 just hours after they overrode his veto.
The governor called the law a “blatantly unconstitutional legislative power grab.”
“Over the years, the North Carolina Supreme Court has repeatedly held in bipartisan decisions that the legislature cannot seize executive power like this no matter what political parties control which offices,” Cooper said. “The efforts of Republican legislators to destroy the checks and balances in our constitution are bad for people and bad for our democracy.”
In addition, the Democratic National Committee and the North Carolina Democratic Party filed a lawsuit challenging Senate Bill 747, which the suit states is “designed to undermine the right to vote in North Carolina.” Voto Latino and Down Home North Carolina also filed a suit over SB 747.
The most recent lawsuit over SB 747 was filed early last week by the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, Democracy North Carolina and North Carolina Black Alliance. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice is representing the pro-democracy groups in the suit.
Explaining their reasoning for the lawsuit, the groups said the bill is “an unconstitutional burden on the fundamental right to vote of young North Carolinians.”
“SB 747 is a direct assault on the voters who use same-day registration the most, and the League is committed to dismantling any such barriers to the ballot,” said Jennifer Rubin, president of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina.