North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday he would not use his veto stamp on a piece of legislation increasing penalties for rioters after he blocked a similar bill in 2021.
The GOP-controlled legislature sent the bill to the governor’s desk last Thursday after it passed with a bipartisan vote in the House and Senate. The Democratic governor had until Monday to sign or veto the bill, which was proposed following the nationwide riots in 2020 following the death of George Floyd.
Though Cooper said he would not veto the bill, he announced he would allow the legislation to become law without his signature, according to The Associated Press. The decision means Cooper will potentially delay an override from state lawmakers as the legislature has become more Republican since his 2021 veto.
Cooper’s choice not to veto the bill irritated social justice advocates who claim the measure restricts the right to protest and free speech, despite only increasing penalties for violent rioters and not peaceful protesters.
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In a news release, Cooper said changes “were made to modify this legislation’s effect” following the veto two years ago, but the governor said he still had concerns surrounding the language.
“Property damage and violence are already illegal and my continuing concerns about the erosion of the First Amendment and the disparate impacts on communities of color will prevent me from signing this legislation,” he said.
In 2021, the Tar Heel state had enough Democrats in the House and Senate to uphold the first riot bill’s veto, but now the Republican-controlled Senate holds the power to override a veto. The House only requires one Democrat’s vote to have the same advantage.
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Six House Democrats, including a chief sponsor of the bill, voted in support of the measure in February. In the Senate last Thursday, lawmakers passed the bill with a 27-16 vote — first-term Sen. Mary Wills Bode was the lone Democrat to vote in favor.
House Speaker Tim Moore strongly advocated…
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