Last day for bill signing is today

Today (September 10, 2009) is the last day for Governor Perdue to act on bills passed by the 2009 Regular Session of the North Carolina General Assembly.  Article II, Section 22(7) of the Constitution allows 30 days after session adjournment (August 12) for the Governor to act.  

 Here are the five bills still remaining on her desk as of this morning.

Bill Short Title     Action
H104 = S136 Clarify Legislative Confidentiality.     Pres. To Gov. 8/11/2009
H836 = S713 Modify Appropriations Act.     Pres. To Gov. 8/11/2009
H945   The Studies Act of 2009.     Pres. To Gov. 8/11/2009
H1329   Consolidate Expunction Statutes.     Pres. To Gov. 8/11/2009
S133   Registers of Deeds’ Pension.     Pres. To Gov. 8/6/2009

 There are three different options for the Governor for each bill:

1) Sign the bill today.  In this case, my office will get the signed bills back either today or tomorrow, depending on what time they are signed.  They will be assigned a Session Law chapter number and published, the quickest way to find them will be on the chronologcal session law list. They will be at the bottom, beginning with S.L. 2009-574.  They appear on that list within five minutes of us processing them.  The bill status page linked to the bills in the list above may be as much as six hours behind.

2) Take no action on the bill.  There is no “pocket veto“, any bills not acted on  by midnight tonight become law September 11. The Constitution says in that case bills not acted upon “shall become a law unless, within 30 days after such adjournment, it is returned by the Governor with objections and veto message to that house in which it shall have originated.” Since the veto became effective in 1997, a total of 15 bills became law without the Governor’s signature, four from the Hunt administration, and 11 from the Easley administration. In this case, my office will get the unsigned bills back tomorrow.  They will be assigned a Session Law chapter number and published, the quickest way to find them will be on the chronologcal session law list. They will be at the bottom.  They appear on that list within five minutes of us processing them.  The bill status page linked to the bills in the list above may be as much as six hours behind. In anticipation of the possibility of a bill becoming law without the Govermor’s signature, we went back to the statute and found G.S. 120-29.1(b) which states:    

“(b)       If any bill becomes law because of the failure of the Governor to take any action, it shall be the duty of the Governor to return the measure to the enrolling clerk, who shall sign the following certificate on the measure and deposit it with the Secretary of State: “This bill having been presented to the Governor for his signature on the ________ day of ________, ________ and the Governor having failed to approve it within the time prescribed by law, the same is hereby declared to have become a law.”

 Unfortunately, the statute uses the word “his” so it looks like we will have to use that word on the bill if we get any returned unsigned, but we will put on our list for next year a provision for the technical corrections bill to delete the word “his” from the statute as it is really surplus.  I do not feel comfortable simply changing the wording on the bill to “her” if this occurs. G.S. 12-3(1) states in part ” …every word importing the masculine gender only shall extend and be applied to females as well as to males, unless the context clearly shows to the contrary.”

3) Veto the bill. To veto a bill, the Governor must return it to the Principal Clerk of the house that originated the bill. It must physically be delivered back by midnight tonight.  Article III, Section 5(11) of the Constitution requires that if the Governor vetoes a bill, she call a reconvened session to convene no later than the 40th day after session, unless a petition is submitted by a majority of members of both houses.  The 40th day after adjournment would be Sunday, September 20. In order to cancel the requirement of a special session, that petition would need to be submitted to her prior to her calling the session, but no signatures can be obtained before today, Thursday, September 10.  If the Governor vetoes a bill but does not call a reconvened session, any vetoed bills will become law on September 20. If a bill is vetoed, the Principal Clerk’s office will update the bill status page for the bill.

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