Cooper vetoes 5 bills, eclipses 100

The two-term governor added to his record total

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed five more bills, bringing his total to 102 over his two terms. (Matt Kelley / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — Following the end of the legislative short session, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed five more bills, bringing his two-term total to 102. His five predecessors who held veto power issued a combined 35.

On July 3, Cooper issued vetoes 98 and 99 on House Bill 155, Titles for Off-Road Veh./Low Speed Veh. Insp., and House Bill 556, Tenancy in Com./E-Notary/Small Claims Changes.

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House Bill 155 would make several changes to North Carolina motor vehicle laws, primarily focusing on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), utility vehicles and low-speed vehicles.

“This new law would allow certain off road vehicles to operate on four lane highways at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour,” Cooper said in his veto of House Bill 155. “These vehicles lack many of the safety features found in traditional vehicles which creates an increased risk of serious injury or death for people on our highways.”

While the bill does expand where modified utility vehicles can operate, including on some higher-speed roads, it does not allow them on four-lane highways at speeds up to 55 mph as his veto statement suggests. The bill maintains restrictions for four-lane roads.

In his veto message of House Bill 556, Cooper said, “This bill would make it harder for low-income families, the elderly and people with disabilities to find affordable rental housing by preventing local governments from protecting against rent discrimination based on lawful income.”

The governor also claimed the bill “creates legal ambiguity regarding when eviction orders become effective and the potential for increased legal expenses for renters in disputes with landlords.”

Some of the governor’s veto comments are supported by the bill text, such as a provision in Section 7 that would prevent local governments from enacting ordinances forcing property owners to accept federal housing assistance funds for rent.

Possible “increased legal expenses” may refer to Section 8 of the bill, which would allow landlords to recover “reasonable attorneys’ fees actually paid or owed.” However, the bill would also limit these fees to “not to exceed” 15% of the amount owed by the tenant or of the monthly rent “if the eviction is based on a default other than the nonpayment of rent.”

On July 5, Cooper broke the 100 veto threshold on House Bill 690, No Centrl Bank Digital Currency Pmts to State, and hit veto 101 with Senate Bill 166, 2024 Bldg. Code Regulatory Reform.

House Bill 690 proposes changes to North Carolina’s laws regarding the acceptance of certain types of currency by state agencies and the court system, specifically Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC), which is defined as a digital currency, medium of exchange or monetary unit issued directly by the U.S. Federal Reserve or a federal agency.

The bill would preemptively block the use of CBDC in the state’s government and court system in order to maintain the state’s financial autonomy and protect against potential future implementations of federal CBDC.

Cooper’s veto message on House Bill 690 deferred to “efforts being made at the federal level” to put protections in place and said, “This legislation is premature, vague and reactionary and proposes an end result on important monetary decisions that haven’t even been made yet.”

House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) said in a statement on X that the veto of 690 would be “swiftly overridden.”

“With his veto of House Bill 690 (which passed the NC House 109-4), Governor Cooper has chosen to side with Joe Biden’s heavy-handed regulatory agenda over private sector innovation,” Moore wrote. “Roy Cooper may claim to be sticking up for consumers when in reality he is cozying up to the Biden administration over the American consumer. This veto will be swiftly overridden.”

Senior Director of Industry Affairs for Blockchain Association Dan Spuller also reacted to Cooper’s veto of House Bill 690 in a statement on X, writing that he was “disappointed” Cooper vetoed “the widely supported, bipartisan HB 690,” and the governor “missed an opportunity to send a clear message to the @‌FederalReserve that North Carolina stands united against the creation of a #CBDC. This veto must be overridden.”

House Bill 690 passed with heavy bipartisan support, 39-5 in the Senate and 109-4 in the House.

Senate Bill 166 would make various organizational and technical changes to laws and regulations related to construction, building codes, electric vehicle charging and public utilities.

“By limiting options for energy efficiency and electric vehicles, this legislation prevents North Carolina’s building code from adopting innovations in construction and mobility that save consumers money,” Cooper said of Senate Bill 166.

The governor also said the bill, “removes subject matter experts from the building code council,” likely referring to the reorganization of the N.C. Building Code Council in the bill which takes the council’s membership from 17 to 13. Instead of the governor appointing all of the seats, six of the 13 appointments will go to the legislature. The seven seats allotted to the governor are subject to confirmation by the General Assembly.

On July 8, Cooper issued veto No. 102 on Senate Bill 445, Recording of Court-Filed Documents. In the veto message, he said the 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.”

Additionally, Senate Bill 607, Regulatory Reform Act of 2024, will become law without Cooper’s signature. The governor said the bill has parts that should become law, but he refused to sign it because he believes a section is “seeking to interfere with the charter and bylaws of the North Carolina Railroad, a private corporation.”

About A.P. Dillon 1342 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_