North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper reached a significant milestone on Friday as he vetoed a pair of bills, marking the 100th and 101st veto of his governorship, more than any other governor in the state’s history.

Cooper vetoed SB 166, 2024 Bldg. Code Regulatory Reform, and HB 690, No Centrl Bank Digital Currency Pmts to State.

SB 166 includes restructuring the state’s Building Code Council by removing seats currently held by fire experts, architects, etc., and new rules that homebuilders requested to curb rising home costs.

“By limiting options for energy efficiency and electric vehicles, this legislation prevents North Carolina’s building code from adopting innovations in construction and mobility that save consumers money,” he said in a press release. “This bill also removes subject matter experts from the building code council, including architects, active fire service, a coastal expert, local government officials, and public at large membership, and limits the knowledge and practical experience of the body tasked with ensuring all buildings are safely designed.”

HB 690 prohibits North Carolina from participating in the Federal Reserve branch’s testing of any future Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). In 2022, the Federal Reserve published a report on the US dollar in an age of digital transformation, which the government agency said was the first step in a public discussion between the Federal Reserve and stakeholders about central bank digital currencies.

A common concern among critics of a CBDC is privacy and government surveillance of individuals’ finances. Donald Bryson, CEO of the John Locke Foundation, wrote in an op-ed that the legislation is a positive step towards protecting individuals’ privacy by limiting the power of central banks and promoting free markets.

“The advent of digital currencies brings with it a new set of risks,” Bryson wrote. “Central bank digital currencies could allow for tighter control over monetary transactions, potentially leading to surveillance and invasion of privacy.”

The House concurred with the Senate on June 26 in a 109-4 vote following the Senate’s 39-5 vote on June 18; but now, Cooper has vetoed it.

“Efforts are being made at the federal level to ensure standards and safeguards are in place to protect consumers, investors, and businesses that may want to make monetary transactions in digital assets, and North Carolina should wait to see how they work before taking action,” Cooper said of his veto of HB 690. “This legislation is premature, vague and reactionary and proposes an end result on important monetary decisions that haven’t even been made yet. Instead of this bill, the legislature should have passed a budget to provide more funding for cybersecurity threats that actually exist now.”

The gubernatorial objections have not, for most of Cooper’s tenure, had any real stopping power. Republicans in the General Assembly have easily overridden Cooper’s vetoes with their supermajority.

However, that power is now somewhat in question after the resignation of Sen. Jim Perry, R-Lenoir, last week. With the resignation, Senate Republicans’ majority now stands one vote below the veto-proof supermajority, though the local GOP will be able to nominate an individual to fill his seat until the election is held in November.

State lawmakers only have skeletal sessions on schedule for the remainder of the year.

Putting Cooper’s veto record in perspective, we find that he has the most prolific use of the veto pen as governor by a wide margin:

  • former Democratic Gov. Bev. Purdue (2009-2013), 20 vetoes
  • former Democratic Gov. Mike Easley (2001-2009), 9 vetoes
  • former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory (2013-2017), 6 vetoes; and,
  • former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt (1977-1985) (1993-2001), with 0 vetoes.