Senate overrides vetoes of farm, early voting bills and sends to House
The Senate voted swiftly to override two of Gov. Roy Cooper’s most recent vetoes Tuesday, June 26, sending them to the House, which is expected to take its own override votes Wednesday.
With scant debate, senators voted 34-12 along party lines to override Senate Bill 325, the Uniform and Expanded Early Voting Act. They voted 37-9 with three Democratic crossover votes to overturn Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 711, the N.C. Farm Act.
S.B. 325 stirred heated debate during initial passage. Democrats said it was a Republican tool to suppress Democrats’ votes. Republicans said it would expand opportunities for voters to cast ballots during the early voting period. It also would make voting easier by directing counties to adopt a uniform schedule for all early voting sites.
“Despite partisan arguments attempting to mislead the public, the fact is the goal of this bill is to expand early voting hours and availability for every person in this state,”Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Elections, said in a written release after the vote.
“The claims to the contrary made by Governor Cooper and the Democrats are simply not the truth. I am glad that we were able to override yet another politically motivated veto from Governor Cooper and take steps to give our citizens more options to cast their ballots,” Hise said.
During floor debate on the override vote, Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, D-Wake, unsuccessfully urged members to shun “blind loyalty to sort of lemming-like conduct,” and sustain the veto.
Cooper has a statewide view of politics because he ran on a statewide platform, Blue said. That allowed him to recognize that eliminating the final day of early voting, the most popular, did not expand opportunities, but decreased them.
The N.C. Farm Act also was argued over fiercely before passage. But Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, was the only senator to speak during the override vote.
“We have seen and heard a lot of debate on this bill, and to say that I’m extremely disappointed at our governor would be a certainly true and factual understatement,” Jackson said.
The omnibus bill added a section “to save what I consider to be Eastern North Carolina, and to save every farmer in this state from frivolous lawsuits,” Jackson said.
“The farmers do everything that the law, and the governments, and the EPAs, and the DEQs, and anybody else requires them to do,” Jackson said. “They do it, they do it right, and they still end up in court.”
Jackson said S.B. 325 tries to prevent those lawsuits. It modifies a state law dismantled by a recent court ruling which left farmers vulnerable to litigation.
“This legislation comes in response to the hundreds of politically motivated and frivolous lawsuits that have threatened to bankrupt many farmers,” a news release issued after the vote said.