RALEIGH – The N.C. General Assembly on Monday voted to override three of Gov. Bev Perdue’s vetoes.
Republican legislative leaders were able to find the votes to cancel the Democratic governor’s votoes of the 2012 budget adjustment bill, legislation to legalize fracking and an overhaul of the Racial Justice Act.
Perdue’s attempt to reject the legislature’s budget bill for state government was defeated for the second year in a row.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 31-10 to override Perdue’s veto of budget adjustments for the fiscal year that began Sunday. The House agreed earlier in the evening to override 74-45 with the help of several House Democrats.
The $20.2 billion budget bill now becomes law.
Perdue on Friday vetoed the spending plan for the new fiscal year, saying it didn’t do enough for public education.
Several Democrats pleaded with colleagues to back Perdue’s veto because public education needs more funding, but GOP lawmakers call it a good proposal given the state’s economy and that it will preserve Medicaid funds.
The Legislature overrode Perdue’s 2011 budget veto.
The gas-drilling process known as “fracking” will be authorized in North Carolina now that the General Assembly has overridden Perdue’s veto of a bill that sets rules and regulations for the form of shale gas production.
The House voted late Monday night 72-47 in favor of overriding her veto. The margin was just enough to meet the 60-percent majority required for overrides. Senators voted 29-13 earlier in the day.
Perdue issued the veto Sunday, saying she objected to the bill based on environmental and other concerns.
The measure directs a state panel and other agencies to develop rules and regulations for the process to drill and collect the natural gas by October 2014. The legislature would have to sign off at a later date before actual permits could be issued.
Lawmakers on Monday also cancelled Perdue’s veto of legislation that rolled back a state law giving death row prisoners a way to seek a reduced sentence because of racial bias.
The House and Senate voted separately to override Perdue’s veto of changes to the 2009 Racial Justice Act. The bill now becomes law because at least 60 percent of the legislators in each chamber voted to override.
The measure was approved despite arguments it would turn a blind eye to racism in the criminal justice system. Most local district attorneys and other death penalty supporters argue the scaled-back law will rely less on statistics they say were misleading and untie a log jam over the carrying out of executions in North Carolina. North Carolina’s last execution was in 2006.
“With today’s override of the governor’s veto, the end of the moratorium is in sight,” House Majority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, the bill’s chief proponent in the chamber, said in a statement. “The basic principle of justice is restored: individual responsibility.”
Lawmakers who supported the Racial Justice Act said the changes gutted the law and will make it impossible for defendants to prove discrimination in the sentencing of a convicted murderer or in the composition of jurors hearing a case. A judge who finds race was a significant factor could reduce a death sentence to life in prison without parole.
“We should not allow race to come into our courtrooms,” said Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, during Senate debate. “Race still impacts the minds and the hearts and the consciences of many people who serve on our juries.”
Defense attorney Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, said the 2009 law was a back-door way by death penalty opponents to end capital punishment.
“I don’t trust are statisticians or people who come in after the fact to find some way to get cold-blooded killers off of death row,” he said before the 31-11 override vote. The House override vote was 72-48 — exactly a 60 percent majority.