RALEIGH — On Friday, Sept. 10, Gov. Roy Cooper signed nine bills but vetoed two, House Bill 324 and House Bill 805.
The two latest vetoes bring Cooper’s total number of vetoes to 63. He now holds almost 68% of the vetoes issued by North Carolina governors. The past four governors with veto power had a combined total of 35 vetoes.
House Bill 324, titled Ensuring Dignity/Nondiscrimination in Schools, overall prohibits public schools in the state from promoting certain concepts that are contrary to the equality and rights of all persons.
The bill would have blocked public schools from compelling students “to affirm or profess belief in” several discriminatory concepts, such as one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex or that an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive.
The bill does not list any specific concept, but House Democrats seized on the bill tying it to a ban on Critical Race Theory and that it would impact teaching history in K-12 classrooms.
In his veto message of the bill, Cooper said the bill pushes “calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into education.”
“This lazy response is the same one that the Governor has used for weeks to avoid addressing a serious issue that is plaguing public education in North Carolina,” said Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson in a statement responding to the veto.
Parents have protested the use of Critical Race Theory at school-board meetings across the state, and a task force started by Robinson collected hundreds of submissions from the public documenting political and ideological indoctrination in North Carolina K-12 schools.
“The Report on Indoctrination in North Carolina Public Education created by my office; irrefutably established that there is a clear problem in our state. For the Governor to say that this bill is pushing ‘conspiracy-laden politics,’ does a disservice to the teachers, students, and parents across our state who have voiced their concerns,” said Robinson.
Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) called the veto perplexing, in a press release shortly after Cooper’s message.
“It’s perplexing that Gov. Cooper would veto a bill that affirms the public school system’s role to teach students the full truth about our state’s sometimes ugly past. His invented excuse is so plainly refuted by the text of the bill that I question whether he even read it. Democrats’ choice to oppose a bill saying schools can’t force kids to believe one race is superior to another really shows how far off the rails the mainstream Democratic Party has gone,” Berger said.
Cooper also vetoed House Bill 805, titled Prevent Rioting and Disorder.
“People who commit crimes during riots and all other times should be prosecuted and our laws provide for that, but this legislation is unnecessary and is intended to intimidate and deter people from exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully protest,” wrote Cooper in his veto message.
The bill increased penalties for certain offenses, including assaults on first responders and law enforcement. The bill also would have authorized civil actions for persons injured or property damaged due to rioting and civil unrest.
“Last year, I watched rioters cause enormous damage to downtown Raleigh while the Governor did nothing,” House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) said in a statement. “Today’s veto is another slap in the face to the small business owners and residents of cities and towns across this state that were damaged by lawless riots.”
Moore called it a “common sense bill that would have protected small businesses and individuals in the event that a protest became violent and focused solely on the perpetrators of violence rather than peaceful protestors.”
He also said “Every suggested change to improve the bill from the other side of the aisle was incorporated. Unfortunately, for this governor pandering to the far left is more important than the rule of law.”