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Gov. Perdue vetoes 15 bills this year
Friday, 01 July 2011 09:09

(RALEIGH) -- Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed two bills on Thursday, ahead of a midnight deadline, that would direct state officials to pursue offshore energy sources and revise the rule-making process for agencies. The decision was applauded by environmental advocates while Republican lawmakers said the Democratic governor dealt a blow to job-creating industries by catering to fringe groups within her political base.

Perdue justified her veto on legislation directing her to work with neighboring states to secure an offshore drilling agreement with federal officials.  She said the measure was at-odds with the state constitution. Perdue also announced the formation of two study panels that will look at ways to harness offshore wind, oil and natural gas resources.
“I believe Senate Bill 709 is unconstitutional as it infringes on the powers assigned to the Governor of North Carolina,”Perdue said in a statement. “I am completely committed to North Carolina's energy policy of developing jobs that foster America's energy independence. I have been working on this for two years. Because of my experience in this area, I know it is critical that we plan and prepare for any eventual federal approval to move forward. We cannot wait until we have authorization to get ready, we must do that now.”
Margaret Hartzell, policy advocate for Environment North Carolina, said Perdue took an important step by creating the offshore wind task force. “It will put North Carolina at the forefront when it comes to developing wind along the Atlantic Coast and will really set the standard for where North Carolina should be heading,” Hartzell added.
Republican leaders accused Perdue of playing politics. They argued that the bill would take an important toward tapping the 64 million acres of natural gas reserves off the state’s coast.
“At a time when North Carolina families and businesses are struggling with outrageous energy costs, Gov. Perdue rejected a golden opportunity to develop affordable and clean energy alternatives that would create thousands of new, good-paying jobs,” Senate president Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement.
Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said the veto puts North Carolina at a disadvantage with other states that are more aggressively pursuing offshore energy. “It would be a shame for them to get ahead of us, take advantage of that resource and have us lag behind,” he said.
Perdue also defended her veto of regulatory reform legislation, which would make dozens of changes to environmental policies and prevent agencies from having the final say on cases challenging the enforcement of those rules.  In addition, the measure would prohibit new state rules that are more stringent than federal law. Perdue said the bill infringed on the authority of the executive branch.
“While I wholeheartedly support the General Assembly’s desire to pass laws aimed at reforming our bureaucracy, those laws have to be balanced and meet constitutional standards,” Perdue said in a statement. “Senate Bill 781 fails this test.”
Opponents argued the measure would create a cumbersome rule-making process where state agencies are unable to protect natural resources.
"The veto sends a clear signal to legislators that rolling back regulations that protect the state's environment is not a viable business plan for economic recovery or the well being of North Carolina's families,” Environmental Defense Fund director Jane Preyer said in a statement. “Instead of cutting red tape, this bill creates mountains of new red tape that handcuff the state's environmental watchdogs. The veto sends the strong message that North Carolina puts out the welcome mat to industries that both create good jobs and respect our natural resources.”
But Republicans said outdated and confusing regulations made it too difficult for businesses to obtain necessary permits. Likewise, Rep. Mitch Gillespie, R-McDowell, said the legislation would make sure agencies consider the costs associated with any change in policy.
“It might make a difference on the way they adopt a rule and             how forceful they adopt it if they see how expensive it’s going to be,”said Gillespie. “They can think, ‘Well we can solve the same thing without putting the burden on business.’ In my opinion, the [bill] is just a good business model of adopting rules and regulations.”
Supporters rejected claims that the regulatory reform legislation would jeopardize the environment. Gillespie said advocacy groups were “grasping at straws” by trying to make Republicans look bad on environmental issues. “The facts and the reality is it is not true,” he insisted.
Perdue also vetoed two other bills, including a proposed change of the requirements for providers enrolled in state-run health programs and legislation that would finalize a move of the Employment Security Commission to the Department of Commerce.
Seven other items will now become law – four without Perdue’s signature. Bills that would overhaul state annexation rules, authorize a tax credit for children with special needs and make technical changes to the state budget are among those to be enacted.

GOP leaders must now decide whether they’ll attempt to override the vetoes during the July session. Perdue has blocked 15 bills so far this year.

Last Updated on Friday, 01 July 2011 09:11


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