RALEIGH, N.C. — House Speaker Joe Hackney said Friday lawmakers will not return next week to try to override Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto of a bill that would have made confidential various documents that lawmakers use in drafting legislation.
Perdue issued the veto Thursday, the first of her term.“These are the people's documents,” Perdue said during a news conference outside the Capitol.
"After consultation with (Senate President Pro Tem Marc) Basnight and with various members of the House of Representatives, we have agreed that the expense and time required for a veto session are not justified in this case," Hackney said in a prepared statement. "The issues addressed in House Bill 104 are not urgent and we can discuss the concerns of Gov. Perdue during the short session."
The "short" session of the legislature begins in May.
“They're going to consider the governor's concerns about this bill and decide how to respond,” said Bill Holmes, a spokesman for Hackney, an Orange County Democrat.
Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat and chief sponsor of the bill, disagreed with the Perdue administration's reading of it, saying it was not written to add any new confidentiality. He said, though, that he was content to work out differences next year.
The N.C. Coalition for Lobbying & Government Reform praised the veto.
The bill “would have made it difficult for citizens to follow legislation,” said coalition Director Jane Pinsky, “and to find out where the idea came from, who's pushing it and who's benefitting from it.”
Perdue's rebuff was the 10th veto since the legislature gave governors the power to reject bills in 1997. Gov. Jim Hunt never used the veto, but former Gov. Mike Easley vetoed nine bills. One veto was overridden by the legislature.
The bill vetoed Thursday would have made confidential any new document an agency creates in response to a legislator's request for information to help draft a bill.
Glazier said those documents already are confidential, but Perdue's legal staff disagreed.
The bill also made confidential a constituent's request for a lawmaker to propose a bill. Glazier said that measure was intended to protect constituents who sometimes disclose personal information in their requests to legislators. He also said it was already practice, though not law, at the legislature to keep those requests confidential.
“They're messing around in the executive branch now,” Perdue said. “And I'll tell you what. I don't believe anybody over there has the right to tell the 91/2 million people who call North Carolina home that these documents are not public documents if they're in the executive branch of government."
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