Expect Little On Vetoes When Lawmakers Return To Raleigh

Aug 2, 2017

The North Carolina General Assembly is returning Thursday from a five-week hiatus, but don't expect them to consider overriding Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's vetoes, their mandated reason for coming back to Raleigh for at least one day.

With numerous lawmakers expected to be absent from the Legislative Building — some apparently will be on vacation or busy with unrelated business — Republicans are likely to delay decisions on the vetoed bills for at least a month and instead focus on tying up loose ends from the last session.

Before going home, some lawmakers also will talk more about redrawing legislative districts. The issue has more urgency now that federal judges this week ordered new maps by September.

Here's what's happened since this year's work session ended June 30, what could happen Thursday and what's ahead on redistricting:

SIZING UP THE BILLS

Cooper had 110 bills he needed to consider before a deadline last weekend. He signed nearly all of them, including a measure that both pleased and disappointed renewable energy proponents. While the measure retooled solar power rules to benefit the industry, it also placed a moratorium on state permits for wind farms until early 2019.

The governor let four bills become law without his signature and vetoed four others, bringing the veto total in his first seven months in office to nine. His previous five vetoes were overridden by the GOP-dominated legislature.

WHAT WAS VETOED?

One vetoed measure directed state environmental regulators to allow landfills to spray liquid collected under landfills into the air with a fine mist. Cooper said lawmakers should be leaving those decisions to scientists.

The governor also was worried a bill designed to make nonprofits' "casino nights" officially legitimate could provide a foothold for the video poker industry to be revived in the state.

Cooper said another vetoed bill sought to punish the media. It allowed Guilford County governments and attorneys to stop posting paid legal notices in newspapers and put them on government websites instead.

The fourth vetoed measure addresses credit insurance that borrowers can buy on small, high-interest loans.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN THURSDAY?

When it comes to vetoed legislation, apparently little. Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County, chairman of the House Rules Committee, said Wednesday he expects the four vetoed bills — all originating in the House — to be sent to committee but nothing further.

Lewis explained there will be "a significant number" of members from both parties that won't be there. He anticipates they will be considered during the next session, which is scheduled for Sept. 6.

Instead, Lewis said, legislators on Thursday could vote on one or two bills that House and Senate negotiators failed to finalize before the work session ended. One would address an array of regulatory changes. Another one addresses the rules for Cleveland County local school board races.

Senate Republicans will meet privately to determine what topics they want to consider Thursday, a spokeswoman for Senate leader Phil Berger said.

WHAT ABOUT REDISTRICTING?

The House and Senate redistricting committees are supposed to meet Friday to discuss and take public comment on what criteria legislators will use when they redraw General Assembly districts. Federal judges have determined 28 districts had been illegally gerrymandered based on racial bias.

A three-judge panel earlier this week ordered that new maps must be approved by Sept. 1, more than two months earlier than what GOP legislators sought. But the deadline could be pushed back to Sept. 15, the panel wrote, if lawmakers show progress in the coming weeks.

If lawmakers decide to approve maps by Sept. 1, they would have to return in late August to vote on them, Lewis said.