Citing the need for “accountability and transparency from all public officials,” Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law a bill that will make it a felony to misuse local office for financial gain. The new statute will also give the state’s Local Government Commission more power to enforce the law requiring that towns and cities conduct annual audits.
On Wednesday, the NC Supreme Court ordered that the 2022 primary elections, originally set for March 8, be rescheduled to May 17 and suspended the candidate filing period for all offices. The high court granted the injunction in response to lawsuits brought by both the League of Conservation Voters and the National Redistricting Foundation challenging the constitutionality of the state’s new GOP-drawn congressional and legislative district maps. The order requires that the lawsuits be decided in trial court by January 11 to allow for expedited appeals if needed. Dates for a new filing period haven't been set.
Governor Cooper vetoed a bill that would have prohibited county election boards and officials from accepting private donations to help offset the cost of running elections. In his veto statement, 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.” Republican legislators passed SB 725 without any support from Democrats, and it is unlikely they will have the votes to override the Governor’s veto.
Governor Cooper vetoed HB 220, a bill that would have prevented local governments from banning energy sources such as natural gas in new construction. Cooper opposed the legislation, saying, "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."