What are we to make of Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto pen, used most recently, and most ineffectively, to curb the NC Senate’s overreach into the workplace?

The first swipe of this mighty writing instrument struck down SB 2 after it passed the House on May 28, a bill that would protect city and county magistrates to “opt out” of performing same-sex wedding ceremonies under the pretense of religious freedom.

The Senate overturned this veto on Monday night, with the benefit of “aye” votes from Sen. Trudy Wade of Guilford County and Sen. Joyce Kraweic of Forsyth. Now it moves to the House for more of the same.

The first time around, Reps. Debra Conrad and Julia Howard of Forsyth County voted for this bill, as did Reps. John Blust and John Faircloth of Guilford.

But even those guys must understand that a bill like this cannot be allowed to pass into law. Think of what the lawyers — like, incidentally, Blust — could do with a precedent-setting law like that. Magistrates could “opt out” of performing interracial marriages. It’s arguable that cops could “opt out” of interfering with same-sex domestic disputes — or, for that matter, enforcing any law they don’t happen to agree with, like busting people with weed.

Still, the House looks poised to neuter McCrory’s effort.

Let’s not forget that the country-club governor has an election coming up; he’s not going to win it without some of the moderate urban vote; and he’s not going to get it if he’s in lockstep with the Republicans in the General Assembly. The veto allows him to save a little face while the GOP-controlled machine marches on.

McCrory’s second veto came just a day later, nullifying HB 405 which had passed the Senate on May 18 with votes from Wade and Kraweic.

The bill, titled, “An act to protect property owners from damages resulting from individuals acting in excess of the scope of permissible access and conduct granted to them,” sounds like a joke. It literally enshrines attacking the messenger into state law, giving giant corporations a pathway to sue employees who expose their illegal actions. It sounds like it could have been written by Dick Cheney. But it was, in fact, inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council’s ag-gag model, designed to protect corporations from what it deems as a form of terrorism from environmental activists and media groups.

The council, or ALEC, is the think tank that brought us “stand your ground” laws, voter ID bills and the kind of thinking that made sea-rise illegal in our state. And because it seems as if the ALEC playbook is being enacted, note for note, throughout the state, it’s curious that McCrory, a solid corporate citizen through and through, would make this stand.

Is this a man showing some spine against his party and corporate overlords? Or is it fodder for a political hack, desperate for survival, who will employ any trick in the book to make sure he still has a seat when the music stops?


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