Politics & Government

McCrory lets two bills become law without his support

Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday cleared his desk of the bills that have been awaiting action since the legislature adjourned one month ago, signing nine of them and letting two become law without his signature.

The pair of bills that he has concerns about will legalize industrial hemp production in North Carolina, limit the terms of the UNC Board of Governors and change the process of hiring a president for the university system.

Friday was the deadline for him to act on the bills.

McCrory issued a lengthy explanation of his decision to let the hemp legislation, Senate Bill 313, become law without his support. He said more time was needed to develop regulations.

New federal rules allowing for hemp crop production are only a year old. The new law creates a state commission to regulate the crop, and McCrory said it will have many issues to address, including testing, the availability of certified seeds, working with federal agencies and seeing what other states do.

We want to get this right.

Gov. Pat McCrory on hemp crop regulation

“We want to ensure that farmers and researchers participating in this program are provided clear guidance to safeguard their investment of time, land, and money to produce this crop,” McCrory said in a written statement. “We want to get this right.”

Although the hemp plant is related to marijuana and looks similar, it lacks much of the active ingredient that makes marijuana a recreational drug.

The governor urged the legislature to take a closer look at regulatory requirements.

McCrory lashed out at the General Assembly over SB670, the UNC Board of Governors bill over how it was handled.

“I have concerns with legislation claiming to provide transparency being passed in the dead of night and waning days of session,” McCrory said.

Besides limiting board members to three terms, the new law requires the board to consider at least three finalists when it hires a president of the UNC system. That provision became law too late to affect the current hiring of Margaret Spellings to replace Tom Ross. McCrory’s statement called for further discussion about how best to make the hiring process transparent.

“We have many years until the next search and therefore ample opportunity to debate the effect of this legislation,” he said.

McCrory signed nine bills on Friday, including three at a ceremony at the Charlotte Fire Department Headquarters that will benefit the families of first responders, veterans and the National Guard.

Senate Bill 37 extends a waiver of tuition for the UNC and community college systems to children whose legal guardians or custodians who died or were fully disabled while serving as police, firefighters, volunteer firefighters or rescue squad workers.

House Bill 709 expands eligibility for the state National Guard tuition assistance program to include those enrolled in a graduate certificate program.

House Bill 558 Expands the N.C. Military Affairs Commission by two members, who represent the National Guard or the military reserves.

Other bills signed into law Friday:

Senate Bill 698 — Allows hospitals to avoid going through a certification process again if they have closed within the past six months, were already licensed and primarily provide physician services to in-patients.

The hospital in Belhaven, about 140 miles east of Raleigh, is in that position after a company took it over in 2011 and then closed it in July. Community leaders have lined up financing from a federal loan and are trying to re-open it as soon as possible.

Senate Bill 524 — Authorizes a pilot sports program for students with disabilities, and emphasizes instruction in the founding principles of the country.

House Bill 126 — Authorizes a registration system for those who process or underwite residential mortgage loans.

House Bill 8 — Adds political party labels on ballots for N.C. Court of Appeals candidates.

House Bill 215 — Establishes a procedure for defendants in criminal cases who want to waive their right to a jury trial and let a judge decide the case. Voters approved the change last year.

House Bill 327 — Conforms state law to new national standards for emergency medical personnel.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO