Cooper vetoes Court of Appeals, Board of Elections bills

The governor acted just before both pieces of legislation would have become law without signature

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Governor Roy Cooper gives the State of the State address at the North Carolina House of Representatives on Monday

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed House Bill 239 and Senate Bill 68 on the last day before the two pieces of legislation would have become law without his signature.Interestingly, Cooper appears to have accidentally signed one of the bills into law before correcting the mistake with a single strike-through. The mistake was noticed and pointed out by Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly) on social media.Was he for it before he was against it? Looks like the Governor actually signed Senate Bill 68 into law before he vetoed it. #ncga #ncpol— Justin P. Burr (@RepJustinBurr) April 21, 2017House Bill 239 would have reduced the N.C. Court of Appeals to 12 members from 15 over a period of years. Three judges are expected to retire in the coming 12-36 months, weaning the court down through natural attrition. The controversy stems from the governor’s role in appointing replacements to vacant seats on the court. The Cooper administration felt House Bill 239 in effect limited his appointment powers.Senate Bill 68 was a second attempt by the Republican General Assembly to reform the State Board of Elections after a judicial panel ruled a previous bill violated the constitutionally mandated separation of powers in a suit brought by Cooper in January. Lawmakers adjusted the legislation to address judges concerns.Cooper’s campaign released the statements on the veto.”This one was simple — we should be making it easier for people to register and vote, not harder.” said Cooper. “That’s why I just vetoed the new Republican Board of Elections bill. Last time they passed this, it was struck down as unconstitutional in court. If they ignore the constitution and override my veto, I will fight them in court again.”Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) and Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) issued the following joint-statement in reaction to the vetoes.”North Carolinians deserve a bipartisan ethics and elections board with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans to govern without partisan motivations, but Roy Cooper wants to rig the system for his own benefit, just like when he packed the Court of Appeals with Democrats while serving in the legislature. We have complied with the court’s order and restored the governor’s ability to make all appointments to that board, yet he is still fighting measures to increase bipartisan cooperation and undo his court packing scheme for no other reason than to preserve his own partisan advantage.”