Roy Cooper signs a dozen bills, vetoes eviction measure

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper started the week signing a dozen bills passed in a flurry of legislation before the General Assembly recessed for the July 4th holiday. He vetoed another and left one to become law without his signature. 

Included in the bills he signed were a pair of bills adjusting the two year spending plan passed by the Legislature last year. They include incremental pay raises for public school teachers. Though he approved Senate Bill 332, which restates the raises within the 2023 budget, Cooper said the pay increases were insufficient to make North Carolina competitive in teacher pay and per-student spending.

“This bill simply restates the small pay raises legislators already gave public school teachers last year,” Cooper said. “The legislature should pay our teachers significantly more as North Carolina has already dropped to 38th in the country in teacher pay and invests nearly $5,000 less per student than the national average. Our state has the resources to make meaningful investments to help our public school students and now is the time to do it.”

The second budget adjustment, Senate Bill 357, includes stopgap funding for child care facilities to backfill federal COVID-era funding that expired at the beginning of the month. In signing the law, Cooper acknowledged the measure built a funding bridge to carry child care centers through the next few months, but said more is needed to solidify support.

“This legislation provides critical but limited grants to help keep childcare centers open for the next few months. However legislators need to do much more for parents, businesses and children by extending these grants through 2025, investing in our nationally recognized NC Pre-K and investing more in quality early childhood education. Our children’s future and our economy depend on it.”

Also signed into law were measures that give terminally ill patients access to genetically tailored experimental treatments, a law to modernize the definition of and punishments for certain sex crimes, and implementation of the Commercial Property Assessed Capital Expenditure (C-PACE) Program, which creates opportunities for commercial property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy investments.” 

In signing the C-PACE law, Cooper lamented that the General Assembly paired it with a provision directing the Department of Environmental Quality to request that the Environmental Protection Agency allow the discharge of household wastewater into wetlands. 

“My administration will express opposition to this provision to the EPA,” he said.

Cooper vetoed Senate Bill 445, which deals with formatting of certain court filings and would rewrite rules for enacting and enforcing evictions notices.

“This bill creates legal ambiguity regarding when eviction orders become effective and may harm low-income individuals by making it harder for them to appeal as indigent in small claims court,” Cooper said in his veto message.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly so far has overridden every one of Cooper’s vetoes in 2024 and is likely to do the same with Senate Bill 445. The House and Senate both convene on Wednesday, though there are not yet any veto override votes scheduled. 

Cooper declined to sign Senate Bill 607, a broad rewrite of various state environmental, development and other regulations. The bill contains worthy provisions, Cooper said, but added that it also seeks to alter the bylaws governing a private corporation. 

“This regulatory reform legislation contains some important changes that should become law, however I am not signing this bill because there is a provision where the General Assembly is seeking to interfere with the charter and bylaws of the North Carolina Railroad, a private corporation,” Cooper said. “This isn’t about improving transportation for the people of North Carolina, it’s just another unconstitutional power grab by Republicans. Article VIII of the North Carolina Constitution protects private businesses from this type of legislative interference in their internal governance.”

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