The Senate Might Not Override McCrory's Coal Ash Veto After All | News

The Senate Might Not Override McCrory's Coal Ash Veto After All


  • Rep. Chuck McGrady (courtesy of NCGA)
Earlier this week, Governor Pat McCrory vetoed the Duke Energy coal ash bill that saw wide bipartisan support from the House and the Senate, as well as Duke Energy itself, and would have reformed the Coal Ash Management Commission, the Oil & Gas Commission, and the Mining Commission. According to an N&O report on Monday, McCrory "told reporters that he knows the legislature will override his veto."

That's not so sure anymore. 

Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Hendersonville), who supports the bill and helped create the Coal Ash Commission back in 2014, tweeted today that the vote that was supposed to take place was postponed.

When asked if McGrady's tweet meant the override vote wouldn't happen at all, McGrady's office told INDY Week  that he wasn't sure what would happen to the bill. 

A lawmaker who spoke to INDY Week confirms that the Senate isn't taking it up "right now," although the lawmaker doesn't know if that "means never, or if that's temporary." 

Multiple sources say that rumors as to why the override vote has stalled includes concerns about the legality of the bill and whether or not it would face a challenge, embarrassing the governor in an election year, or using it as a bargaining chip with the House in budget negotiations.

Although the bill was approved with supermajorities in both houses and just one opposition vote in the Senate, the theory goes that the legislature may try to avoid another costly legal battle; in January, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the legislature's creation of the commissions was unconstitutional. In March, McCrory shut down the Coal Ash Management Commission.

The legislator called the idea that the Senate was scared off "ridiculous," however, "because we knew [there might be a challenge] going in."

SB 71 attempted to avoid a legal challenge by reducing the number of appointments to the commission from nine to seven and giving McCrory control of five appointments, while the General Assembly just gets two. In the bill that the Supreme Court struck down, the split was six to three in favor of the General Assembly.

This wasn't enough for McCrory, apparently, as he vetoed it anyway. Now, the fate of the bill, and the commission, is once again up in the air.

We'll update with more information as we receive it.

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