RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday called for a veto override session of the legislature for Sept. 3, to consider two bills dealing with the drug testing of welfare recipients and immigration.
It was not immediately clear whether House Speaker Thom Tillis would ask the House to attempt to override the governors veto. But one of his lieutenants, Rep. Mike Hager said there were enough votes in the House to override the veto if Tillis wanted to move in that direction. Both bills passed with more than the three-fifths needed to override a veto.
If it were up to me, I would go ahead and override both of them, said Hager, a Republican from Rutherfordton.
We got pretty good last year at overriding vetoes, he added. I think we got it down pat by now.
Last year, the Republican legislature voted to override three vetoes by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.
Because both are House bills, the decision on whether to attempt an override must be made in that chamber.
McCrory is obligated to call the legislature back into session when he vetoes a bill. But he said the best option is for lawmakers not to convene, thereby saving tax dollars and sustaining the vetoes. He said any corrections in the bills can be done during the short legislative session that meets next May.
The veto should be used for two reasons, McCrory said in a statement. The first is to stop legislation about which I have strong reservations of being in the best interest of North Carolina. The second is to ensure the public is made aware of legislation that is not fully scrutinized. These bills meet both criteria.
McCrory vetoed a bill that would require people applying for the states Work First and food stamps programs to be tested if a social worker suspected they might be abusing drugs. It would also require county social services to make sure an applicant didnt have an outstanding felony warrant and wasnt violating probation. Applicants could also be fingerprinted under the measure.
The governor said the bill looks good on paper, but it is not an effective way to fight drug abuse. He said a better use of tax dollars is to make sure applicants with addiction issues get the treatment they need.
The immigration bill which is largely a study bill includes largely uncontroversial requirements on the state, cities and counties using E-Verify to determine contractors immigration status. It also has a provision expanding the exemption from E-Verify for seasonal workers, from the current 90 days to almost nine months.
McCrory said that provision would make it easier for employers to hire illegal workers.
We need to grow the economy, but not at the expense of North Carolina workers, McCrory said. We need to verify that people working in North Carolina are doing so legally. We also need to ensure industries that are following the law are not now put at a competitive disadvantage because of this new loophole.
He urged lawmakers to pass a law next year that would help North Carolina farmers without circumventing federal immigration laws.
McCrory has been lobbying lawmakers to not override the bills.