In his first term, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed more legislation than all prior Governors combined. A grand total of 53 in his first term looms large over the 29 total vetoes of all former North Carolina Governors.
In addition to the 53 vetoes from his first term, Governor Cooper has already blocked one bill early in the 2021-2022 session and will likely veto many more over the next four years.
Former Governor Bev Purdue accumulated the second highest number of vetoes, closing her tally off at 19 during her time in office.
History of Veto Power in North Carolina:
North Carolina voters did not grant veto power to our governor until November 1996, making us the last state to do so. The change met with the approval of voters the previous November when they overwhelming approved a constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot.
North Carolina historically opted for a weaker role for its governors, partially as a reaction to the harsh treatment that state suffered under British royal governors during the colonial era. The governor wasn’t even popularly elected until 1835. Prior to that time, governors were elected by the state legislature.
Though a contentious issue at the time, governors have only opted to exercise the power 53 times. The first use of the veto didn’t come until 2002, when Governor Mike Easley sent a bill appointing people to various boards and commissions back to the legislature.
Local bills, amendments to the state and federal constitutions and several other types of legislation cannot be vetoed by the governor. A three-fifths majority of the legislature can override any veto action.
The North Carolina General Assembly Library keeps precise records of legislative proceedings. There are many resources on their website that may be interesting to readers. To read a list of all the vetoes ever made by N.C. Governors, follow this link to their online database.