Cooper ve­toes bills af­fect­ing elec­tions

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Local - BY WILL DO­RAN AND PAUL A. SPECHT wdo­[email protected]­sob­server.com [email protected]­sob­server.com

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Demo­crat, has ve­toed the two bills the Leg­is­la­ture passed last week that would af­fect Novem­ber’s midterm elec­tions.

“Leg­isla­tive Repub­li­cans want to roll back checks and bal­ances in or­der to pick their own judges and put spe­cial in­ter­ests in charge of ed­u­ca­tion, vot­ing, clean wa­ter and more,” Cooper said in a press re­lease Friday an­nounc­ing the ve­toes. “Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors are shame­fully at­tempt­ing to mis­lead vot­ers in or­der to un­der­mine our state’s con­sti­tu­tion and weaken the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers be­tween the branches of gov­ern­ment.”

One of the bills re­voked the au­thor­ity of a state com­mis­sion to write short cap­tions for the six pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments that will be on the bal­lot this fall.

The other bill would keep a Repub­li­can can­di­date, Chris Anglin, from hav­ing his party af­fil­i­a­tion on the bal­lot even though the other two can­di­dates — Demo­crat Anita Earls and Repub­li­can Bar­bara Jack­son — would have their party af­fil­i­a­tions be­side their names. The N.C. GOP has la­beled Anglin “the en­emy” and sug­gested he is se­cretly a Demo­crat try­ing to split the Repub­li­can vote.

THE LEG­IS­LA­TURE PASSED 2 BILLS LAST WEEK THAT WOULD AF­FECT NOVEM­BER’S MIDTERMS.

GOP RE­AC­TION

Repub­li­cans had de­fended the two new pieces of leg­is­la­tion ear­lier this week when they came back to Raleigh for a sur­prise ses­sion to pass the bills. Law­mak­ers gave the pub­lic less than 24 hours ad­vance no­tice about the ses­sion and passed both bills within a mat­ter of hours on Tues­day, after chang­ing rules so they could fast-track the process. Democrats ob­jected to the rule changes to no avail.

And on Friday, N.C. GOP Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Dal­las Wood­house crit­i­cized Cooper for ve­to­ing the bills. “To me, it’s fur­ther proof that he’s al­ways only in­ter­ested in pol­i­tics and not in gov­ern­ing,” Wood­house said. “A fair ques­tion to ask the gov­er­nor is, ‘What’s wrong with how the bal­lot ques­tions are be­ing pre­sented to the vot­ers?’ There’s noth­ing de­ceiv­ing about it.”

The bill called for la­bel­ing each of the six pro­pos­als sim­ply as “con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment” with­out a num­ber or a ti­tle. In­stead each will in­clude a brief de­scrip­tion pre­vi­ously writ­ten by Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors that Democrats have said are mis­lead­ing.

Cooper’s ve­toes do not nec­es­sar­ily mean he will be able to stop the bills from be­com­ing law.

Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors hold veto-proof ma­jori­ties in both the N.C. House and Se­nate, and have suc­cess­fully over­rid­den nearly all of Cooper’s ve­toes in his first 18 months as gov­er­nor. And on Friday, House Speaker Tim Moore and Se­nate leader Phil Berger sent out a joint state­ment say­ing they in­tended to do just that. “The gov­er­nor’s out­landish claim that la­bel­ing pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments as ‘Con­sti­tu­tional Amend­ments,’ and con­form­ing the fil­ing re­quire­ments for ju­di­cial can­di­dates to ev­ery other pub­lic of­fice in the state, is some­how “rig­ging the sys­tem” is a poor at­tempt to pro­tect po­lit­i­cal games­man­ship by his party,” the leg­isla­tive lead­ers wrote. “We will over­ride these ve­toes to de­liver clear and con­sis­tent voter in­for­ma­tion on bal­lots this Novem­ber.”

The Leg­is­la­ture could vote to over­ride the ve­toes as soon as Mon­day.

There are time pres­sures for state of­fi­cials to print the bal­lots for this Novem­ber’s elec­tions. Elec­tions of­fi­cials want all bal­lot in­for­ma­tion fi­nal­ized by Aug. 8. They have to have the bal­lots ready by Sept. 7, which is when ab­sen­tee-by-mail vot­ing be­gins.

AMEND­MENTS

The six pro­posed amend­ments cover var­i­ous top­ics, some more con­tro­ver­sial than oth­ers.

One would cre­ate a new voter ID law — re­plac­ing the 2013 law that was struck down as un­con­sti­tu­tional in fed­eral court for tar­get­ing African Amer­i­can vot­ers with dis­crim­i­na­tory in­tent. An­other would lower the cap on how high the state’s in­come tax rate can be.

Two amend­ments would take away the gov­er­nor’s power and give those pow­ers to the Leg­is­la­ture — one con­cerns ju­di­cial va­can­cies and the other ap­point­ments to boards and com­mis­sions.

An­other amend­ment would give crime vic­tims ad­di­tional rights, and an­other would pro­tect the right to hunt and fish.

SUPREME COURT RACE

The bill that af­fects the race for a state Supreme Court seat didn’t tar­get Anglin by name; it in­stead tar­geted any ju­di­cial can­di­date who had switched par­ties within 90 days of en­ter­ing an elec­tion. Anglin was a Demo­crat un­til shortly be­fore switch­ing to the GOP and en­ter­ing the race, al­though he has re­peat­edly main­tained that he is a le­git­i­mate con­ser­va­tive can­di­date.

Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors have over­rid­den nearly all of Gov. Roy Cooper’s ve­toes in his first 18 months as gov­er­nor.

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