House overrides McCrory vetoes
by Anna Oakes
The N.C. House of Representatives reconvened on Tuesday, spending less than an hour to override Gov. Pat McCrory's vetoes of two bills passed in the 2013 session.
McCrory -- a Republican governor serving alongside a Republican-dominated General Assembly for the first time in a century -- vetoed two out of the 439 bills passed by the legislature this year. The two houses of the legislature adjourned in late July but returned to Raleigh Tuesday to consider the veto overrides.
"Though we disagreed with the governor on these two issues, we appreciate his leadership and continue to have great confidence in his administration," Speaker of the House Thom Tillis said in a statement Tuesday.
In North Carolina, a vetoed bill returns first to the house of origin, where a three-fifths majority is required to override the governor's veto. If the override is successful, the bill proceeds to the other house for an override vote before the bill can become law. The N.C. Senate will consider overrides of the bills on Wednesday.
An override of the governor's veto of House Bill 392 passed the House 77-39 Tuesday.
The governor on Aug. 15 announced his veto of House Bill 392, which would require drug testing of Work First (welfare) applicants and recipients. According to the bill, departments of social services would be required to test for drugs applicants "whom the department reasonably suspects is engaged in the illegal use of controlled substances."
Under the bill, those who test positive for drugs are ineligible for welfare assistance for one year.
"Drug testing Work First applicants as directed in this bill could lead to inconsistent application across the state's 100 counties. That's a recipe for government overreach and unnecessary government intrusion," McCrory said in an Aug. 15 statement.
But McCrory issued an executive order to implement other provisions of House Bill 392, including strengthened criminal background checks for welfare applicants.
Both houses originally passed House Bill 392 with greater than three-fifths support. Republican state Sen. Dan Soucek of Boone was a co-sponsor of a similar bill in the Senate.
The House also voted 84-32 to override McCrory's veto of House Bill 786, the "RECLAIM NC Act." The bill exempts workers with employment terms less than nine months of a calendar year from federal E-Verify screening. Currently, state law exempts seasonal workers employed for 90 days or less.
The bill also directed the Department of Public Safety to study the potential impacts of several measures, including increased penalties for false IDs, methods to deter the pre-trial release of undocumented immigrants who have been accused of serious crimes, establishing reasonable suspicion standards for conducting immigration status checks and implementing a process for undocumented immigrants to obtain a temporary driving privilege.
McCrory said the bill would make it easier to hire illegal immigrants in North Carolina. But supporters, including Rep. Jonathan Jordan (R-Jefferson), a primary sponsor, said the state's agricultural sector seeks greater flexibility and better coordination with federal definitions.
"It just gives them flexibility on the E-Verify portion of the process," said Jordan, who noted he would vote to override McCrory's veto. "It's federal law they can't hire illegal aliens. I don't understand that argument."
The N.C. Senate was originally scheduled to meet at noon Tuesday but recessed until 9 a.m. Wednesday.
McCrory's press office issued a slew of statements and links to editorials supporting his vetoes in the days leading up to the reconvened session.