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N.C. Opinions: Greensboro

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McCrory should pull out veto stamp for these bills

From an editorial in Sunday’s (Greensboro) News & Record:

Gov. Pat McCrory is studying the final three dozen bills passed during the recent legislative session that are waiting for a decision. He can sign them, let them take effect without his signature or cast a veto.

A veto would be the Republican governor’s first. But he should cast aside party solidarity and use his veto stamp more than once. Here are some prime candidates for rejection:

• H74, Regulatory Reform Act of 2013. It makes it easier to create and operate landfills and harder for neighbors to oppose them, and requires that trucks transporting waste carry it only in “leak-resistant” rather than “leak-proof” containers.

It makes hearing officers of the Industrial Commission political appointees instead of regular state employees. The change means they can be fired for deciding cases against politically influential employers.

It also eases restrictions on disposal of toxic coal ash from power plants.

It allows billboard companies to replace existing signs with digital billboards and prohibits local governments from blocking the change.

It orders regulatory agencies to approve existing environmental protection rules all over again by a set deadline or the rules will expire. This will keep agencies so busy repeating old work that they may not have the ability to address new challenges.

• H392, Drug Screening for Public Assistance. Applicants for the Work First Program would have to submit to a drug test at their own expense if administrators “reasonably suspect” they’re using illegal drugs. Yes, feeding drug habits with public dollars is not acceptable. But this seems like a legal and administrative nightmare.

• H522, Foreign Laws/Protect Constitutional Rights. This bill will have no real effect since it has no legitimate purpose. It purports to protect North Carolinians’ constitutional rights against the imposition of foreign laws (a veiled reference to Islamic law). It simply would be embarrassing to enact such a silly statement of state policy.

McCrory hasn’t demonstrated much independence from the legislature so far. Now he has a chance to reject some unnecessary or even potentially harmful bills. He won’t match Democratic former Gov. Bev Perdue’s vigorous use of the veto stamp, but he doesn’t have to be a rubber stamp, either.

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