Updated: Oct 16
On Monday Governor Cooper vetoed two environmental bills. HB 600, the annual regulatory reform bill, would allow farmers to compost dead chickens, stop efforts to support minority-owned businesses, and allow a new gas pipeline to move forward without scrutiny. SB 678 would change language in state laws from “renewable energy” to “clean energy,” incentivizing nuclear power over renewables. Republicans in the NCGA are expected to override Cooper’s vetoes of the bills this week, along with his recent vetoes of other bills.
On Thursday Republican leaders in the NCGA announced that they plan to approve new election district maps by the end of October. Republican lawmakers are drawing maps behind closed doors, and there are no options for public input after maps are drawn. Challenges to new districts are expected to be filed in federal court, given that the NC Supreme Court has made clear they will not strike down gerrymandered maps.
On Monday the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans filed suit in federal court challenging North Carolina’s 30-day residency requirement for voter eligibility. The group says that the requirement violates the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, which allow for voter registration deadlines but do not allow for residency requirements beyond those deadlines. As of Tuesday morning, the State Board of Elections and Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell, named in the suit as defendants, had not been notified or served.
On Wednesday the State Board of Education affirmed that it has no enforcement rights in parental hearings it is required to hold under the state’s new “Parents’ Bill of Rights.” The law, which requires teachers to report children’s name or gender changes to their parents, limits teaching about gender identity and sexuality, and allows parents to review curricula, allows parents to bring issues to the state board if their concerns are not addressed within 30 days by the local school district. The State Board of Education is expected to approve processes for these hearings next month.
The new state budget became law without Governor Cooper’s signature this week. In addition to many other provisions, the budget includes $3 billion in economic development, including $2 billion for water and sewer upgrades, $500 million for the private-public partnership NCInnovation, $350 million for an airfield and industrial site in Kinston, and $130 million for megasites to attract new factories.
On Monday Governor Cooper signed HB 142 into law, increasing penalties for teachers who commit sex offenses against students and for school administrators who don’t report offenses. The law raises the felony level for both engaging in sexual activity with students and taking indecent liberties with students, and makes failure to report such an offense a Class I felony. Offending educators also risk losing their retirement benefits.