Gov. Roy Cooper signed two bills into law Monday and vetoed three, with one in particular raising disapproval from two Council of State members who call for lawmakers to override it.

He signed S.B. 729, CBBC Working Group Changes, which deals with school systems, and S.B. 58, Protect Critical Infrastructure, which involves punishment for property crimes against utilities. The bill resulted from an attack on two power substations in Moore County on Dec.3, leaving more than 40,000 residences and businesses without power.

“We must protect critical infrastructure that keeps electric power and clean water available in our communities, and this bill sends a message to criminals that these irresponsible acts will not be tolerated,” said Cooper, a Democrat.

Vetoed bills include S.B. 331, Consumer Finance Act Amendments. “At a time when the cost of living is rising, North Carolina consumers cannot afford to be hit with higher fees and interest rates on loans.”

HIs statement on vetoing S.B. 329, Retail Installment Sales Tax Amendments, was nearly identical saying, “At a time when the cost of living is rising, North Carolina consumers cannot afford to be hit with higher fees and interest rates on loans and purchases.”

The final bill he vetoed was S.B. 299, Reimburse Late Audit Costs with Sales Tax Rev.  It involves increasing compliance by counties and municipalities that fail to timely submit an annual audit report.

“It is important that local governments follow the law on auditing their finances in order to foster accountability and fiscal responsibility,” Cooper commented. “While well-intentioned, this legislation as written is likely to punish residents of some of our state’s smallest communities. Rather than having state government seize sales taxes that are needed for local government, the North Carolina General Assembly should reconsider this legislation and provide more help for these communities to make sure they do it right rather than impose financial punishment that could make matters worse.”

local government commission calls to override veto

Cooper’s veto of S.B. 299 did not sit well with Democrat State Auditor Beth Wood and Republican State Treasurer Dale Folwell who chair the Local Government Commission. They issued a joint statement on the governor’s veto, saying they were disappointed with it. 

State Auditor Beth Wood at a Local Government Commission meeting.

“The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support – 43-0 in the Senate and 84-30 in the House,” the pair said. “As members of the Local Government Commission (LGC), we see the leadership of many counties and municipalities perennially failing to submit audits on time to the LGC. When the leadership of governmental units fails to submit timely audits, the state has no insight as to whether they are in financial difficulty. The taxpayers hurt by this lack of transparency are often those on lower and fixed incomes.”

NC Treasurer Dale Folwell, Feb. 15, 2023. Photo by Theresa Opeka, Carolina Journal.

Wood and Folwell said they encourage the General Assembly to quickly override Cooper’s veto in order to protect those that are most vulnerable.