On Thursday Governor Cooper vetoed a bill that would diminish the governor’s appointment powers and replace the entire Board of Transportation. SB 512 would shift appointment powers for eight governing boards, including transferring appointment power from the governor to the state legislature for several governing boards. Among the boards affected are campus-level boards of trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State. Governor Cooper cited two recent NC Supreme Court decisions that said administrative board appointment power should remain with the executive branch.
On August 16 the NCGA passed a large Republican-sponsored elections bill that would limit the grace period for accepting absentee ballots postmarked by election day and allow partisan observers within polling places. SB 747 would also require 10 counties to test signature verification on mail-in ballots. Voting rights organizations condemned the bill, and Governor Cooper vetoed the bill on Thursday.
The NC Attorney General’s Office has asked the US Supreme Court to hear an appeal of North Carolina’s ag-gag law after it was struck down twice by lower courts as an unconstitutional restriction of free speech. The law penalizes employees who document alleged wrongdoing in their place of work and pass along that documentation to someone other than their employer or law enforcement. Similar laws that have been struck down in other states would also be affected if the Supreme Court takes up this case.
On Thursday Governor Cooper signed into law a bipartisan bill that would crack down on deceptive real estate deals. HB 422 was written in response to a real estate firm that had homeowners sign contracts that the firm would be their real estate agent if they sold it within 40 years. The law prohibits real estate agreements that extend past one year or extend to future owners of a residential property.
On August 16 the NCGA overrode Governor Cooper’s veto of a bill that freezes some residential building code updates. HB 488 exempts newly -built homes in much of the state from sheathing inspections showing that parts of the frame can withstand category 4 hurricane winds and puts a hold on the addition of energy efficiency upgrades to the building code.
On August 16 the NC House Regulatory Committee held a hearing on a bipartisan bill that would allow cities to punish bad landlords. HB 595 would require landlords to fix problems within 21 days, allow repeat inspections for properties with recent code violations, and require repeat offenders to register with the city and pay a fine up to 30% of their rental income. Industry groups that represent landlords, the NC Realtors Association and the Apartment Association of North Carolina, don’t support the current bill.
On August 16 the NCGA overrode Governor Cooper’s vetoes of a set of anti-trans bills, passing those bills into law. HB 808 bans gender-affirming medical care for minors, even if it is recommended by a doctor and parents consent to the treatment. HB 574 prohibits transgender girls and women from competing on girls’ or women’s teams in middle school, high school, and college sports. Two Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the bills.
This week the NCGA passed a bill that would require more juveniles to be tried as adults and allow the release of photos and information about certain juvenile suspects. HB 186 would allow 13- to 15-year-olds accused of first degree murder and 16- and 17-year-olds accused of violent crimes to be tried as adults, rolling back protections afforded to juvenile suspects in 2017’s “Raise the Age” law.