Last week, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the General Assembly’s latest regulatory reform bill, citing measures which weaken fire safety and clean water protections.
Cooper’s veto message for Senate Bill 553 reads, “Provisions in the legislation allowing trash receptacles in exit corridors could pose a fire safety risk for residents and emergency responders. Also, this legislation could allow septic system permits to be issued that circumvent state septic system rules which can hurt public health and threaten clean water. Both of these provisions threaten public health and safety. Therefore, I veto the bill.”
Legislators have passed a succession of regulatory reform bills since the 2011 session, most containing provisions which environmental and public health advocates have condemned as weakening important protections. However, this is the first such bill to pass since the 2018 elections increased the number of legislators from Cooper’s party to a level at which his vetoes are usually sustained. SB 553 earned modest bipartisan support after some of the most environmentally objectionable provisions regarding landfills and electronic waste recycling were removed. However, many legislators’ willingness to uphold Cooper’s vetoes even when they voted for the original bill appears to have strengthened following Speaker Tim Moore’s surprise budget veto override two weeks ago, meaning this veto could stick.