WJTV News Channel 12 - Senate, House override McCrory vetoes

Senate, House override McCrory vetoes

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June Atkinson and Pat McCrory on Sept. 4. June Atkinson and Pat McCrory on Sept. 4.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

One day after the North Carolina House of Representatives voted to override Gov. Pat McCrory's vetoes on two bills passed by the General Assembly, the Senate did the same Wednesday morning.

The two bills in question were H.B. 392 which would require drug-testing for welfare recipients and H.B. 786 which expands an exemption for employers to avoid using the E-Verify system to check the immigration status of new hires.

The Senate session did not feature any debate on either of the bills. The governor's veto of H.B. 392 was overridden by a 34-10 margin and his veto of H.B. 786 was overridden by a 39-5 vote.

Sen. Tom Apodaka (R-District 48) said there was no debate because the senators' minds "were made up."

"They were made up when we voted on the bills," Apodaka said. "They both passed with such significant majorities that there was no use in talking about them anymore."

McCrory said later Wednesday that he wants to postpone implementation until the legislature reconvenes in 2014 because there is no funding in 100 counties for testing and enforcement. He added that if there is funding later, it should go do education.

He also issued a sharply worded response to the vetoes.

"One part of our culture that did not change was passing some flawed legislation during the last hours of session with little debate, understanding or transparency," McCrory said. "Too much education policy was slipped into the budget bill causing serious concerns especially from our teachers and educators.  

"Executive branch concerns over long-term operational costs were ignored by passing bills with good intentions but unintended consequences, and overriding vetoes on drug testing and immigration."

Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger, however, fired back in a press release that McCrory is bound by the constitution and he expects the governor to uphold that law.

McCrory said H.B. 786 has "created a loophole that could cost legal North Carolinians jobs." And he criticized the drug-testing bill as "an unfunded mandate."

McCrory's comments continued some tense discussions between the General Assembly and the executive branch. While the Republicans are fully in charge, McCrory has disagreed with his Republican counterparts in some ways, as evidence in his vetoes.

Meanwhile, the N.C. chapter of the ACLU was quick to release a statement expressing disappointment in the override of H.B. 392.

Their statement said, in part, "It's very disappointing that the legislature put so much effort into passing this cruel and constitutionally suspect bill. H.B. 392 does nothing to help those who test positive for drug use get treatment, but it does allow the government to conduct costly, unnecessary, and unreasonably intrusive searches of North Carolinians who seek public assistance to care for their families."

The overrides are a blow to McCrory, who actively lobbied legislators to uphold his vetoes. He says the drug-testing bill would not be cost effective. He said the veto on the E-Verify program would allow immigrants in the country illegally to take jobs.

Both bills are now officially laws in the state.

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