Our View: General Assembly says wait a minute

September 7, 2013

Not so fast, Governor McContrary.

Pat McCrory got a quick lesson in give and take law-making this week.

Ten minutes.

That’s all it took for the N.C. Senate on Wednesday to override Gov. McCrory’s only two legislative vetoes, bringing the General Assembly’s 2013 special session to a close.

The action mirrored the N.C. House of Representatives’ decision Tuesday, which also attained the three-fifths majority necessary to override the governor’s veto on a welfare drug testing bill and an immigration bill.

The Senate voted 34-10 in favor of the welfare drug testing bill, which would require background checks and drug testing for some welfare applicants.

State Senator Jim Davis, R-Macon, said the bill was not designed to be an effective way to fight criminal drug abuse, but to make sure they were not supporting illegal drug use and moving illegal drug users toward self-sufficiency, according to The Daily Tar Heel.

In response to the rapid vetoes — particularly on the welfare drug testing bill — the governor said in a statement he would not implement the law until funds were available. The background checks and drug testing were not included in the 2013-15 state budget.

The Senate also voted 39-5 to override the immigration bill veto, which extends how long employees can work in the state without verifying citizenship.

Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, said he supported it because it eliminates extra paperwork that farmers have to do every year and, despite misconceptions, it doesn’t support illegal immigration.

“It is the right thing to do for our (agricultural) community,” Jackson told The Daily Tar Heel. “This bill in no way adds to the illegals, and if you’re hiring illegals, it’s still illegal to do so.”

For Senator Gene McLaurin the decision to take part in the General Assembly’s override of the governor’s vetoes on immigration and public assistance legislation was simple.

McLaurin says the bills are “good policy.”

We agree and back our freshman senator from Rockingham.

McLaurin, a supporter of both bills since their inception, said he was acting on principal.

“If you’re going to be in a Work First public assistance program, you need to be testing negative for any illegal drug presence,” said McLaurin, who serves as president of Swink-Quality Oil. “That’s what you are going to have to do when you enter the private sector for employment, and it’s what I have to do in the business I manage with 30 employees … I’m subject to random testing, just like everybody else here.”

McCrory has said he will refuse to implement measures in the bill until the proposed testing is properly funded, but McLaurin said he has been assured by the bill’s sponsor that “the funds are in the budget to pay for the testing.”

McLaurin said he was compelled by an outpouring of support from farming and agriculture advocacy organizations to vote for an override of McCrory’s veto of the Reclaim N.C. Act.

“I talked to a lot of farmers and agriculture organizations, and everyone I talked with was supportive of this legislation,” McLaurin said. “I believe we need to support our farmers and agricultural community.”