NCmatters

The countdown on the Health Care Freedom Act (HB 2) went down to the wire, but just before 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed the controversial legislation, which would have pitted the state against the federal health-care law.

"A state can't pass a law that is out of obeyance with federal laws, and this House Bill 2 clearly is," Perdue said in her press statement. She also cited two other reasons for the veto, her second of the session. Since 27 other states are already challenging the national law, she noted, such action is "extraneous to North Carolina." And echoing Attorney General Roy Cooper's arguments, Perdue said the legislation would have unintended negative financial consequences and would "dramatically affect our Medicaid program.”

Two weeks before, Perdue had vetoed the Balanced Budget Act of 2011 (SB 13) because she felt it would hinder the state's efforts to attract businesses and create jobs. In response, a new bill was filed that would have the governor reduce expenditures by $537,740,799 in the remainder of the current fiscal year (which ends June 30) to reduce the projected shortfall for the 2011-12 fiscal year. The bill has passed its third reading in the Senate. (Republican Sen. Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine co-sponsored both bills.)

Perdue is only the second N.C. governor to have veto power. North Carolina was the last state in the country to grant its governor that authority, via a 1996 constitutional amendment. Perdue's predecessor, Mike Easley, executed nine vetos in his two terms, and only one was overturned by the Legislature (a 2008 law exempting wider boats and trailers on state roads from a special permit).

Meanwhile, Democrats are lobbying Perdue to veto another bill as well — No Cap on Number of Charter Schools, which passed the Senate and is likely to pass the (co-sponsors included Republican Sens. Hise and Tom Apodaca, whose district includes part of Buncombe County).

Several House members from Western North Carolina, including Reps. Susan Fisher, Patsy Keever and Ray Rapp, have objected to provisions in SB 8 and are introducing an alternative bill (see March 4 Xpress blog post, “Charter School Legislation May Not Pass the Test").

Several new bills joined a "repeal annexation" movement in the Legislature that now includes efforts to void annexations in municipalities such as Kinston, Lexington, Rocky Mount, Lewisville, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Fayetteville and Asheville's Biltmore Lake area. An early bill calling for a moratorium on involuntary annexation was co-sponsored by Republican Reps. David Guice of Brevard and Tim Moffitt — who doesn’t live in Asheville but whose district includes part of the city. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee Jan. 27, where it remains. A similar bill co-sponsored by Apodaca was introduced in the Senate a week earlier and passed its second reading.

— Follow our Statehouse news at www.mountainx.com/special/ncmatters. Contributing Editor Nelda Holder can be reached at nholder@gmail.com.

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