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McCrory afraid to veto?

News & Record, Greensboro, North Carolina, on lawsuit filed by Gov. Pat McCrory:

It’s hard to keep up with all the lawsuits filed to block legislation passed by the N.C. General Assembly in the last four years.

Various groups have challenged abortion restrictions, redistricting, voting laws, school vouchers and changes to teacher tenure, among others.

Only one plaintiff had the power to veto the bills he opposes — Gov. Pat McCrory.

McCrory last week filed suit against House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger, claiming that the coal ash commission and other agencies created by the legislature violate the state constitution by treading on executive authority.

The defendants’ reaction was one of incredulity: “Today the governor sued to stop independent boards created in two bills — one he chose to sign and the other he allowed to become law. He vetoed neither,” Tillis and Berger said in a statement.

They’re right. When the coal ash bill, directing the cleanup of Duke Energy storage ponds and forming a commission to supervise the effort, reached his desk, McCrory let it sit there without his signature until it automatically passed into law. The commission is up and running. Yet the governor is now asking the courts to do what he would not.

At the time, McCrory claimed the coal ash commission was unconstitutional and said he would seek an advisory opinion from the N.C. Supreme Court confirming his view. Barring that, he threatened to take legal action.

The court was never likely to advise the governor. But he would have been well-advised to use his veto stamp. The legislature might have offered a new bill without the commission.

Governors and legislators have had turf battles before. This one is significant, but McCrory could have ended it with a veto.

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