News: Quick Takes

Cooper issues two more vetoes

Gov. Roy Cooper has issued two more vetoes this morning, targeting bills that would change the makeup of the state elections board and reduce the number of judges on the N.C. Court of Appeals.

In vetoing Senate Bill 68, which would merge the State Board of Elections and state Ethics Commission into a new eight-member board with equal membership from both major political parties, Cooper said, “Similar legislation to this was held unconstitutional by a three-judge panel in a unanimous decision, and I believe the repackaged bill is also unconstitutional. This legislation will result in deadlocked votes on the Board of Elections, and will undermine North Carolina’s ability to conduct fair, legal elections that maximize voter participation.”

In vetoing House Bill 239, which would reduce the number of Appeals Court judges from 15 to 12 as the next three judicial vacancies occur through resignation or retirement, Cooper said, “Fewer judges will increase the court’s workload and delay the people’s access to timely appeals and decisions. The bill is an attempt by a political party to stack the Court of Appeals. Additionally, I believe this legislation is unconstitutional.”

The General Assembly presented both bills to Cooper on April 11. This was the last day for Cooper to decide whether to sign the bills, veto them, or let them become law without his signature.

Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, immediately issued the following statement:

“North Carolinians deserve a bipartisan ethics and elections board with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans to govern without partisan motivations, but Roy Cooper wants to rig the system for his own benefit, just like when he packed the Court of Appeals with Democrats while serving in the legislature. We have complied with the court’s order and restored the governor’s ability to make all appointments to that board, yet he is still fighting measures to increase bipartisan cooperation and undo his court packing scheme for no other reason than to preserve his own partisan advantage.”

Cooper has vetoed three bills. The General Assembly overrode the first, which added partisan labels to more judicial races statewide.

For each bill, both the state House and Senate would need to secure three-fifths, or 60 percent, majorities among voting members to override Cooper’s veto.

The final version of S.B. 68 cleared the N.C. House with a 71-43 (62 percent) vote, while the Senate approved it, 29-13 (69 percent). H.B. 239 cleared the House with a 69-43 (62 percent) vote, and the Senate approved it, 30-13 (70 percent).

The House would need 72 “yes” votes and the Senate would need 30 “yes” votes if all members are present and voting.