by Jane Porter
The N.C. House voted to override Gov. McCrory's vetoes of two bills Tuesday afternoon, following a very short discussion.
The House sustained House Bill 392, a bill requiring people applying for public assistance to undergo drug testing, in a 77-39 vote.
The House also sustained House Bill 786, a bill expanding the seasonal worker E-Verify system exemption from 90 days to nearly 9 months, in 84-32 vote.
The vote to override the gubernatorial veto of HB 392 came after bipartisan pleas to keep the veto in place.
Under the bill, people applying to receive welfare benefits (TANF) will be drug tested. In a "reasonable suspicion" clause that is particularly unfair, anyone with a criminal record from the last years three years will be subjected to a drug test before receiving benefits as well.
"This bill meets the definition of kicking a man while he's down," said Rep. Jim Fulghum, R-Wake, a Raleigh neurosurgeon.
Fulghum called the bill "unclear" and said that it unfairly punishes the poor.
Several House Democrats—including Rep. Valerie Foushee, D-Durham/Orange, Rep. Duane Hall, D-Wake, Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake and Rep. Deb McManus, D-Chatham—voted for the bill in session.
Republican representatives from rural counties had strong and contrasting feelings on the seasonal worker bill.
Gov. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, called the bill "a jobs bill for illegal aliens" and said that if the bill becomes law, North Carolina will become a "magnet" for illegal workers as it has been in the past. Cleveland urged his colleagues in the House to vote against overriding the governor's veto.
Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Franklin/Nash, said that the bill would "provide parity for North Carolina agriculture businesses, with outside businesses." Collins said that states use the longer E-verify exemption period and that North Carolina should do the same to remain competitive. He encouraged his colleagues to vote to override McCrory's veto.
House Speaker Thom Tillis said he will notify the Senate of the House decisions to override both vetoes, the only vetoes Gov. McCrory made this session.
The N.C. Senate session will commence Wednesday at 9 a.m.