Well, as the Associated Press is reporting on state wire (see: http://www.heraldsun.com/state/6-287420.html), the first “veto session” of the North Carolina General Assembly may turn out to be a lot less historic than it could have been.
Last week, hours after the midterm elections were over, Gov. Mike Easley issued the first-ever veto in North Carolina. The bill in question was a relatively obscure (to most North Carolinians) but politically important (to insiders) piece of legislation to make appointments to a variety of state panels and commissions.
The governor said he was vetoing it because several of the appointments violated state law, and because it expanded the size of state boards at a time when state government needs to shrink rather than grow. He’s right, of course, though the stakes did not appear to be large.
All sorts of conspiracy theories have circulated around the state capital this week. Would Democratic leaders in the state legislature take the opportunity of the veto session to get a quorum in their other, still-going special session and thus be able to pass redistricting or lottery legislation? Did Gov. Easley issue the veto primarily to begin a strategic anti-legislature campaign to boost his chances in 2004? Would Republicans vote to sustain the veto, thus agreeing with Easley’s fiscally conservative case against the legislation, if it meant that Democrats would then convene a special session to pass another appointments bill and, possibly, other things?
Now it appears that few of the more interesting scenarios will work. Most lawmakers are not coming to Raleigh for the veto session. It will be perfunctory. And the veto will stand.
Believe me, though, there is still a little doubt here. In this uncertain political climate, with Republicans poised to take over the N.C. House and Easley nervously eyeing the demise of fellow Southern Democratic governors in South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama last week, there will be more than a few folks at the General Assembly sneaking looks up in the air – just in case the black helicopters fly over.