• 59°

Cooper vetoes bills seeking to reopen businesses

By BRYAN ANDERSON

Associated Press/Report for America

RALEIGH (AP) — Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a string of bills on Thursday passed in the Republican-controlled legislature to reopen businesses and help reignite parts of the economy most hurt by the coronavirus.

With GOP lawmakers unlikely to have the votes needed to override the Democratic governor’s decision, amusement parks, entertainment venues, bars, gyms, skating rinks and bowling alleys will almost assuredly remain closed for at least two more weeks.

In a series of veto messages, Cooper criticized state lawmakers for trying to reopen places he believes are most vulnerable to the virus. He argued the bills would reduce the likelihood of reopening schools, limit the ability for him and local officials to quickly react to COVID-19 developments and amount to “tying the hands of public health officials.”

“Given the rapidly evolving nature of this pandemic, executive officials are best positioned to make emergency determinations about public health,” Cooper wrote.
Cooper extended the state’s Phase 2 reopening guidelines last month through July 17. He also decided on Wednesday to postpone a planned announcement on how K-12 schools should reopen to get kids back into classrooms.

Republican leaders worry Cooper is unnecessarily hurting small businesses that could soon go out of business if the state doesn’t reopen.

“Families and individuals are desperate for a balanced approach to recovery that protects the public’s health without permanently devastating small businesses across our state,” said a statement from Tim Moore, speaker of the state House of Representatives. “Actions always speak louder than words and it is clear Governor Cooper is unwilling to prioritize struggling North Carolinians over his own power.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is running against Cooper in the November gubernatorial election, sued the governor earlier this week for unilaterally closing businesses and mandating face masks.

Forest believes Cooper has signed some executive orders without the necessary approval from the Council of State. The 10-member council includes Cooper, Forest and eight other statewide elected officials. Six council members are Republican.
On Thursday, Cooper vetoed a bill that would have required him to gain majority support from the council for emergency declarations of more than 30 days and when businesses are ordered to shut down.

“The Emergency Management Act clearly provides the Governor with statutory authority to direct the state’s response to a public health emergency that could affect the entire state’s population,” Cooper wrote in a veto message. “A devastating pandemic, like COVID-19, threatens the state’s people and warrants providing the state’s chief executive have the authority to manage the state’s response by placing prohibitions and restrictions on activities that threaten public health and safety.”

State Sen. Warren Daniel, a Republican in Western North Carolina, criticized Cooper’s decision to reject a bill that would have prevented cancellations of July 4 fireworks and parades. He also noted Cooper declined to wear a face mask last month when walking through a crowd protesting racial injustice. Cooper’s walk among demonstrators came before he issued his statewide mask order.

“@NC_Governor who walks maskless with protesters just VETOED your right to celebrate our country’s Independence Day with town parades or fireworks displays,” Daniel tweeted.

Cooper’s decision to reject reopening bills comes as North Carolina reported more than 1,600 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 900 hospitalizations on Thursday, both figures near the state’s one-day highs. The state’s percentage of cases that come back positive remains flat between 8% and 10%, which the state would like to see drop to 5%.

Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, warned residents in a news conference on Thursday not to let their guard down over the weekend holiday.

“This isn’t where I hoped we’d be for July Fourth Weekend, and unfortunately, we don’t get a holiday from COVID-19,” Cohen said. “We can celebrate, but we have to do so responsibly.”

___
Follow Anderson at https://twitter.com/BryanRAnderson
___
Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
___
Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

Comments

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department clarifies county’s COVID-19 death total is 301

Landis

Landis approves new land development ordinance, zoning map

Landis

Landis approves body camera, stun gun purchase for public safety officers

Crime

One charged, another dead on sheriff’s most wanted list

Crime

No injuries after car shot eight times on Old Concord Road

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament

News

Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina

News

House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges

Local

Rep. Amber Baker discusses legislative session during Rowan Democrats breakfast meeting

Local

Thousands of locals, out-of-towners gather for a groovy time at annual Hippie Fest

News

N.C. Zoo ready for expansion if lawmakers OK funding

Education

RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

Local

Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction

Business

Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured