Cooper Vetoes Pro-Polluter, Anti-Voter Bills

Last week, Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed three pro-polluter and anti-voter bills the General Assembly’s anti-environmental majority passed late in the interminable, ongoing legislative session.

One of the vetoed bills was House Bill 220, which would stop local governments from enacting or enforcing any ordinance regulating energy sources used by residential or commercial developments. The new law was modeled after a provision national pro-polluter groups are pushing to protect natural gas and bar efforts to transition to clean renewable sources in states across the country. 

In vetoing H220, Cooper said, “This legislation undermines North Carolina’s transition to a clean energy economy that is already bringing in thousands of good paying jobs. It also wrongly strips local authority and hampers public access to information about critical infrastructure that impacts the health and well-being of North Carolinians.”

Cooper also vetoed Senate Bill 725, which would bar local Boards of Elections from accepting private grant funding to help pay for the costs of administering elections. About this bill, Cooper said, “Elections are fundamental to our democracy and in 2020, grants from nonpartisan nonprofits were needed for necessities such as masks, single-use pens and other protective equipment so voters stayed safe during the pandemic. The legislature should start properly funding elections boards to ensure accessible, safe, and secure elections every time, which would end the need for grants.

Cooper had previously vetoed another bill intended to restrict voting rights, Senate Bill 326, which would prohibit county Boards of Elections from counting mail-in ballots which were not received by 5 p.m. on Election Day. Had that restriction been in effect in 2020, about 11,000 legally cast ballots would have been thrown out, due to mail delays not under voters’ control.

In his veto message for this bill, Cooper said, “The legislature ironically named this bill ‘The Election Day Integrity Act’ when it actually does the opposite. Election integrity means counting every legal vote, but this bill virtually guarantees that some will go uncounted.”

We commend Gov. Cooper for standing in support of clean energy and voting rights for all North Carolinians. 

Last Friday, legislators recessed session until December 30, when pro-polluter legislative leaders may or may not take up consequential, controversial legislation like judicial impeachments. Stay tuned.

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