As veto session nears, area lawmakers sticking to their guns
By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — When lawmakers head back to Raleigh this week for a special veto session, the N.C. General Assembly won’t see any surprises from local legislators.
N.C. Reps. Carl Ford (R-China Grove) and Harry Warren (R-Salisbury) as well as Sens. Andrew Brock (R-Mocksville) and Gene McLaurin (D-Rockingham) said they are expecting to vote the same on two bills Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed earlier this month — and most of those votes will be to override.
Lawmakers are being called back to Raleigh on Tuesday for the special session and will vote to either sustain McCrory’s vetoes or override the denials.
Warren’s RECLAIM NC legislation is one of the two bills up for discussion Tuesday. The other deals with drug testing recipients of welfare assistance.
Warren’s bill, HB 786, is largely a study bill, but McCrory vetoed the remaining portion, saying the measure would make it easier for employers to hire illegal immigrants.
Warren, McLaurin and Brock voted for the bill when it passed the General Assembly. Ford, who has twice voted for it and twice against, ended with a “No.”
Ford said he’ll support the governor’s veto.
“To be honest, I’ve heard this — that (lawmakers) were confused, they thought the entire bill had been turned into a study bill,” Ford said. “So I don’t know what’s going to happen with that one.”
Ford called the bill “convoluted” and said it weakens the e-Verify program.
If approved, the bill would open the program’s exemption for seasonal workers from 90 days to nine months.
“I just think you open the door for more and more illegals,” Ford said.
Warren has maintained that the bill would not provide loopholes for illegal immigrants, citing state and federal law, and said he expects enough votes for the measure to pass.
“I don’t anticipate really that anybody is going to change their vote. I actually had a couple people that voted ‘no’ on my bill that are going to vote ‘yes’ on the override,” Warren said. “This isn’t an issue of a power play between the House and the Governor. This is a difference of opinion of policy.”
McCrory also vetoed a bill that would require residents applying for the state’s food stamps programs to be drug tested if a social worker suspected they might be a substance abuser.
It would also require county social services employees to check for outstanding felony or probation warrants and would open the door for applicants to be fingerprinted.
McCrory said the legislation isn’t an effective way to fight drug abuse.
Still, the measure has unanimous support from the Rowan County delegation.
“I think the Governor is wrong. I think we should have drug testing,” Brock said. I think we should make it tougher for these people to have benefits.”
In years past, Brock said, the state has been the “Cadillac” of state-sponsored financial assistance.
“Yes, we offered more when times were good but when times are bad, we can’t afford to drive the Cadillac,” Brock said. “I think we should put drug testing and criminal background checks on anyone receiving any benefits from the federal government.”
McLaurin, president and general manager at Swink-Quality Oil Company, addressed the bill from a business perspective.
“Frankly, I work in the private sector. I manage a business with 30 employees. All of the employees, including myself, we take random drug tests. I think this is good policy for the state to approve,” McLaurin said.
“As far as the drug testing requirement, I’m a big believer in personal responsibility, and if people are expecting to receive assistance from state government then I think they need to be personally responsible for themselves and the way this bill is written, if there’s reasonable suspicion, they can be tested,” McLaurin said. “To me, that’s fair and it’s about fairness and accountability.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.