Earlier this month, the North Carolina General Assembly reconvened for the purpose of overriding the two vetoes that Governor Pat McCrory made concerning House Bill 392 and House Bill 786.
House Bill 392, which was originally passed by the General Assembly on July 10, will require applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to be drug tested if a social services worker suspects that they are abusing drugs.
TANF, or Work First as it is called in North Carolina, is a federally funded grant program that allows states to create and administer their own assistance programs. It is a program where parents can get short-term job training and other services to help them become employed and selfsufficient. Most recipients have two years to complete the program. Macon County is one of seven counties in the state that utilizes the program.
HB 392 also requires social workers to make sure that applicants do not have any outstanding felony warrants and are not violating any terms of probation or parole.
McCrory vetoed the bill on Aug. 15, citing similar laws used in other states that have been widely considered ineffective.
“This is not a smart way to combat drug abuse,” said McCrory. “Similar efforts in other states have proved to be expensive for taxpayers and did little to actually help fight drug addiction. It makes no sense to repeat those mistakes in North Carolina.”
Using an Executive Order titled “Strengthening Fugitive Apprehension and Protecting Public Benefits,” McCrory upheld the portion of the bill that would require verification of an applicant's criminal history.
“While I support the efforts to ensure that fugitive felons are not on public assistance rolls, and to share information about them with law enforcement, other parts of this bill are unfair, fiscally irresponsible and have potential operational problems,” he said.
Despite the veto, lawmakers in Raleigh voted, 77-39, to override it and force the bill into law. In order to override a governor's veto, three-fifths majority is required.
Senator Jim Davis (R) who represents Macon County was one of the 77 who said 'Yay' for the override.
"I don't know why he chose to override the bills that he did," said Davis. "But there was overwhelming support for this bill. I wrote a similar bill for the Senate that was easily approved, but I took it to some of my colleagues in the House who are lawyers and they wrote a House version that stands up to legal scrutiny."
Despite what would appear as a lost cause for the governor, he has chosen to continue his fight against the drug testing mandate.
“Based upon the lawmakers' vote on drug testing, the executive branch will not take any action on the new law's implementation until sufficient funds with this unfunded mandate are provided, not only for the Department of Health and Human Services, but also the funding for consistent application across all 100 counties,” said McCrory.
HB 786 suffered a similar fate as 392. Despite also being vetoed by the governor, the House and the Senate voted to make it law anyway.
This is a law that will expand the period of time that seasonal workers have to do an immigration status check with the EVerify system. E-Verify is an Internetbased system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. Employers who hire temporary seasonal workers for fewer than 90 days within a consecutive 12-month period and private employers with 24 or fewer employees are not required to use E-Verify.
McCrory vetoed the bill pointing to the belief that it would allow more undocumented immigrants to be hired in N.C.
“This legislation has a loophole that would allow businesses to exempt a higher percentage of their employees from proving they are legal U.S. Citizens or residents,” said McCrory. “Every job an illegal immigrant takes is one less job available for a legal North Carolina citizen. We must do everything we can to help protect jobs for North Carolinians first and foremost.”
Under the current wording of the “90- day” law, seasonal workers are allowed 90 days, but McCrory believes that increasing the time period will expand the “seasonal” exemption to industries beyond agriculture.
“This bill would make it easier to hire illegal immigrants,” he said. “My job is to enforce state and federal law and to uphold the U.S. Constitution and I will use every tool necessary to do that and protect North Carolina jobs."
When it came time to vote, Davis again disagreed with the Governor and voted to override the veto.
"I don't want illegals taking jobs, but it's not about that, it's about a suffering agricultural industry. These jobs will not be filled because there are too many people collecting unemployment that not do these jobs. They know they can just stay home and keep collecting and while they are doing that farmers are taking the hit," said Davis. "We can't leave them in need for employees. It's bad policy.”